Developing a Spatial Perspective in Geography Video

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  • 0:01 Geography & the…
  • 1:15 Tools and Techniques
  • 2:43 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: David Wood

David has taught Honors Physics, AP Physics, IB Physics and general science courses. He has a Masters in Education, and a Bachelors in Physics.

After watching this video, you will be able to explain how and why a spatial perspective is important in geography and describe some of the tools and techniques used to develop such a spatial perspective. A short quiz will follow.

Geography and the Spatial Perspective

Geography is the study of the physical features of the Earth, including how humans affect the Earth and are affected by it. Geography deals with physical aspects of the Earth: the layers of the Earth, the atmosphere, the composition, the vegetation, mountains, rivers, and land-forms. Human geography also concerns itself with how humans have affected those physical features and how the arrangement of those features have affected humans. All of these things are covered by geography.

But whatever the topic you're studying in geography, it involves thinking about how a feature or phenomenon is positioned in space. This is geography's so-called spatial perspective. By concentrating on the 'where' of the topic, we're able to gain a better understanding than if we ignored it.

This isn't just useful in pure geographical exploration; there are also many practical uses. When a business is deciding where to place a new location, they use the spatial perspective. Real estate agents consider the spatial perspective when sending clients details of houses they might want to buy. Even choosing where to go on holiday or which school to send your kids to involves the spatial perspective. This is all part of geography.

Tools and Techniques

Geographers have many tools and techniques that help them develop a spatial perspective on a topic. Maps, compasses, and globes are important to geography for this reason. They allow you to get a sense of the space across the surface of the Earth.

There are many types of maps, but when it comes to developing a spatial perspective for a topic, choropleth maps are especially useful. A choropleth map is a map where a particular feature or statistic is displayed through shading. For example, darker shading might indicate a larger number. Such a map could be used to display a million different variables: land height, average rainfall, population density, per-capita income, political views - you name it. And all these things help us develop a spatial understanding of those variables. Once we know about the 'where', we can more easily ask 'why'. Why are these things distributed across the Earth the way they are?

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