What value do maps have in the age of ubiquitous geographic information delivered digitally on mobile devices? Bruce directly addresses this question in eight conceptual chapters highlighting the importance of maps for developing thinking and learning in a variety of educational contexts. A computer scientist who taught in the UIUC Department of Information Science, Bruce demonstrates breadth of knowledge in teaching and learning through brief snapshots focused on educational applications of, e.g., maps, globes, global positioning system (GPS) technologies, and the freely available OpenStreetMap database. Although the examples presented include several familiar to most geographers, including Dr. John Snow’s London well (cholera spread) and geologist William Smith’s strata (biozones), Bruce also includes several unique illustrations of map use, e.g., Parisian street signs, humanitarian aid mapping in Nepal. He adopts a primarily theoretical perspective on maps as used for understanding the world, influenced by distinguished historical educators (Lucy Sprague Mitchell and John Dewey). Each chapter includes multiple illustrations of maps used as "thinking tools," reinforcing the general importance of spatial thinking alongside literacy and numeracy. Although brief, this text provides important insights for general readers and will also be welcomed by geographers, spatial humanities educators, and practitioners working in social studies, science, and early childhood education. Highly recommended. Lower- and upper-division undergraduates. Graduate students, faculty, and professionals. General readers.— Choice Reviews
Bruce’s fascinating and insightful book draws the reader into a wide-ranging exploration of the nature of maps, and their vital roles in the process of education and global understanding.— Michael H. Fisher, Danforth Professor of History, Oberlin College, US
The author connects “maps and map-making” to virtually every discipline and human endeavor by leveraging his unusual multidisciplinary experience.— Nama Budhathoki, Executive Chairman, Kathmandu Living Labs, Nepal
This book is a welcome addition to the field of education at all levels and disciplines. By emphasizing maps as visual language, equally important as languages of words and math symbols, it address a serious deficit in the way maps are currently taught, largely as an afterthought, relegated to “map questions” or simple identification of place names and locations. This book, by contrast, identifies maps and other graphics as essential elements in helping us make connections across time, space, and subject material.— Gary Benenson, Project Director of City Technology, City College of New York
What emerges from Bruce’s description of thinking with maps is the hugely important and often overlooked role of context—the rich network of influences and interactions that follow from broad-sense “location”. Language and mathematics both struggle to deal effectively with context—language primarily because of its inherent linearity, and mathematics because interactions and combinatorics overwhelm its methodology.
This book's novelty comes from providing the concept of visualized contextual thinking with both a strong philosophical foundation and important real-world applications. Profoundly important, in my view. We all do much of our thinking with maps. This book shows just how broadly this idea applies and how profound are its implications: for teaching, for learning, for improving society. An insightful and inspiring perspective.— Philip H. Crowley, Professor of Biology, University of Kentucky
Bruce’s point that maps are tools for thinking, in the way of language or mathematics, is significant at this time of accelerating global interconnectedness. Moreover, the global existential threats of the Corona virus pandemic and climate change make this reconsideration of maps from an interdisciplinary perspective timely. Anyone watching the evening news sees countless examples of the diverse ways that information about the progress of the pandemic is communicated in words, carefully plotted in graphs, expressed in numbers, and mapped in geographic regions. Bruce calls our attention to the perennial interest of the education community in maps and how they may be used to promote interdisciplinary education.
Bruce’s breadth of experience working with students from marginalized groups in a variety of settings, including US, Alaska (a distinct enough part of the US to merit separate notice), and Nepal, lends authority to his theoretical constructs. The breadth of his academic background and interests is refreshing in an age of specialists. Moreover, this broad background lends authority to his interest in promoting interdisciplinary studies.
The scope of this book makes real Bruce’s claim that maps serve far greater purposes than the simple absorption of geographical information. His intellectual disposition toward inquiry and his affinity to inquiry-based learning is embodied in his presentation of maps as tools of inquiry into diverse subject matter. Although this book should be of special interest to educators, I agree with his statement: “This book can be a resource for intelligent use of maps in any endeavor.”
Bruce explodes our traditional conception of maps as he considers maps as tools of inquiry in diverse fields. He continually reaches beyond maps to consideration of what maps afford us, even a view of ourselves.— Sam Brian, City University of New York
I recommend this book very highly—it’s a read that makes one feel in the company of an intelligent mind, who is taking one’s hand, and leading one down a path of fascinating, interconnected thoughts on the importance and meaning of maps, which are used to gain a better appreciation of a region’s physical and social history. Read this is as if one has become an explorer, invited down a timeline and across the earth, to learn from the revelations along the journey. From the old fold-up maps we all struggled with during car trips to the technological advances of current cartography, maps reveal culture, values, politics, claim territory or indeed even assert the existence of a people, such as the recent locating of thousands of indigenous communities in Peru. This is a valuable journey, spent with a well-informed traveler!— Mary Grizzard, Professor of National Security Affairs (retired), National Defense University, Washington, DC
This book is a fascinating collection of ideas about maps, their many forms, and the way people use them to both influence and be influenced by their environment. Maps and map reading are presented as personal experiences. Every map has a maker and every map has a user.— Abby Kerlin and Ellen McCrum, Bank Street College of Education
This is a fascinating book! If you would like to know what Paris street names have in common with the study of poverty in Nineteenth Century London, if you are curious about how fossilized footprints discovered in England shed light on the daily life of humans who lived 850,000 years ago, or wonder how maps can be used in the classroom to promote democratic education, this is the book for you.— Paul Horwitz, Concord Consortium