Applaud Introduction of Non-Eurocentric Maps in Public Schools

Target: Dr. Colin Rose, Assistant Superintendent of Opportunity and Achievement Gaps for the Boston Public Schools

Goal: Applaud the introduction of a new world map that presents a more realistic depiction of the size of continents in Boston Public Schools.

Boston Public Schools decided to introduce a new world map that does not over-represent the size of North America and Europe and depicts a more realistic scale of the continents instead. The decision is part of a long-term effort to decolonize the curriculum of public schools in the city and change some Eurocentric paradigms in education. In a time of increasing intolerance, this initiative is a simple yet effective step to promote cultural understanding among the young generation and foster marginalized students’ self-esteem.

Known as the Mercator map, this map makes Europe and North America seem bigger than South America and Africa and places Europe in the center of the projection. The Mercator projection has stood for nearly 500 years as the most famous world atlas. Flemish cartographer Gerardus Mercator created his projection as a guide for marine navigation along the first colonial trade routes and, consequently, areas far from the equator appear larger and areas closer to the equator are truer to size.

The Mercator map contributes to a pervasive, unconscious bias that has guided the comparison between north and south for centuries. As an alternative, the Gall-Peters projection was introduced a few decades ago. While it is the target of some controversies, this kind of map is specifically concerned with better illustrating the size and the relative scale of the continents. One can see in the Gall-Peters projection that South America is twice as larger as Europe and that Africa is actually 14 times larger than Greenland. The introduction of the Gall-Peters projection in schools is an improvement regarding rigor and knowledge production.

Continuous exposure of inaccurate images of the places where people’s heritage is rooted has an effect on students. From lower self-esteem to bold bigotry, the inaccurate portrayal of the world is a barrier to cultural exchange and healthy diverse communities. The Gall-Peters projection offers the possibility of profound debate among young students, questioning the dominance of the north over the south. It is a simple change that is likely to bring extraordinary outcomes. Sign the petition to congratulate those responsible for the initiative.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Mr. Rose,

I applaud the substitution of Mercator maps for Gall-Peters plans in Boston’s Public Schools. The Mercator projection represents an old, Eurocentric view of the world and has a deleterious effect on students – from lower self-esteem to bold bigotry. As the country struggles with increasing intolerance, the adoption of a more accurate world map is a simple yet effective way to promote cultural understanding among young people.

I hope the experience is successful in Boston and that your city is soon able to lead and expand this discussion to other towns and states.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Strebe

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4 Comments

  1. What??!!! You mean all this time we have been using DISTORTED and INACCURATE maps?? Maps that have been presented as accurate to everybody?? I am stunned.
    Kind of makes me wonder what else we’ve been taught that isn’t true. (Maybe quite a lot.)

    • Gen Lovyet Agustsson says:

      never mind the lies

      • Sweetie, do you realize just how big this lie is? They’ve been teaching people all over the world this lie for hundreds of years. The governments who have been teaching children – and adults – these lies should at least apologize to all of us. And this should be huge news, not just quietly slipped into the schools as if it was no big deal.

        • Also – I agree with this petition. The truth definitely should be taught in schools. I think though that there should be huge publicity about this and it should be introduced into all schools everywhere, along with humble apologies for the lies.

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