A Summary of Education of a Geographer Essay

A Summary of Education of a Geographer

            Geography has always been an active field, and there will always be an interest in geography in all cultures. It is a field in which both amateur and professional can attain equal achievements, for they both value, and add value, to geographic knowledge. (p. 287)

            A geographer is a product of both birth and environment. In childhood, geography is an unlikely interest to assert itself early, so the concern of discovering aptitude, and emergent interest is an important one. (p. 287)

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            A school is indeed valuable, but its value must no be overrated. It is inaccurate and undesirable that an individual should be thought of as a product on any particular school; better is the conception that he was nurtured at the right time.  (p. 288)

            In geography competence is not gained quickly, nor by specializing in one skill. The geographer does not strive to perfect himself by specializing, but instead strives to learn more of what is relevant. Therefore it is proper that there is no general formal discipline. Different temperaments, interests, and backgrounds are admitted and welcomed—it is natural for geographers to have a heterozygous population. (p. 288)

            One primitive and persistent trait of the budding geographer is the liking of maps and thinking by means of them; maps are a sort of addiction or obsession with geographers, and are sometimes claimed as the language of geography. A map invites attention synoptically and analytically; its symbols are translated into images and these are assembled in the mind’s eye into meaningful associations of land and life. (p. 289)

            The geographer and geographer-to-be are travelers. The geographic bent rests on seeing and thinking about what is in the landscape, or the content of the earth’s surface. But this interest is not limited to the merely conspicuous, but is more in-depth. It involves finding questions, confirmations, items, or elements that are new or unexplained. (p. 289)

            Geography and natural history are related by their manner of observation. Every good naturalist has the “morphologic eye,” a spontaneous and critical attention to form and pattern. Geographers work at the recognition and understanding of elements of form and their relation in function. Description is rarely adequate and even less often rewarding unless it is tied to explanation, thus geography is also concerned very much with causation. Geography is a “reading” of the face of the earth, a seeking of explanation.          If we shrink the limits of geography, the greater field will still exist; it will be only our awareness that is diminished. (p. 290-91)

            It is not necessary nor desirable that the totality of region be considered the common basis of geographic study. No one can do geography of a region, or comparative geography, when he knows less about anything he assembles than others do. (p. 292)

            Geographers welcome whatever work from whatever source, and claim no proprietary rights. In evolutionary history, highly specialized life forms have always been more likely to die out, whereas less specialized forms generally do not; this analogy probably is relevant to geographers, who thrive on diversity. (p. 293)

            Labels, when applied to beginners, serves to herd them into premature profession. Hence, even for a future geographer, a good undergraduate course involves a very limited number of geography courses.(p. 293)

            There seems no benefit in regional courses, as a really intimate association with other cultures is needed and is acquired only slowly. topical courses , on the other hand, can be brought to dominance, to the geographer’s advantage; they are analytic, and their elements may be scrutinized at any scale of inspection by adequate techniques. (p. 294)

            All geographers should have knowledge on the effects of weathering, transport, and deposition on the face of the earth. Form and process are linked, and studying this connection requires selective observation and critical judgment. A knowledge of bio-geography is also important to geographers, as the impact of human cultures on geography is part of this. (p. 295)

            Field work should be the primary training of any geographer. Excursions and field courses are the best way of exposing a student to geography. A geographer’s training should also involve the history of geographic thought—revolutionary ideas, the intellectual climates that have come and gone. It is a worthwhile experience to go where no one has gone before, and to learn and make sense of the previously unknown. (p. 296)

            A scholar does not limit himself to what is most convenient, least of all to such arbitrary reduction of knowledge. we can learn more from the study of dominant ideas and problems in geographic work, from objectives and changes of interest as shown in the lives of those who have contributed most. What geography is, is determined by what geographers have worked at everywhere and at all times. (p. 297)

            Good regional geography is akin to finely representational art; a geographer can also convey the feel of the horizon, the sky, the air, the land. These aesthetic goals lead to philosophic speculation, which can only be beneficial to any geographer. (p. 298)

            Anything that is lacking, or wrong, in the current academic clime of geography can be fixed by a strong new generation. It is not for the current generation to prescribe a “proper” methodology or definition—academic freedom must be won anew. (p. 299)


Sauer, C. 1956. The Education of a Geographer (On Original Bent and Early Predilection). ANNALS of the Association of American Geographers 46:288-99.



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