Tag Archives: theory of knowledge

“God created war so Americans would learn geography”

I heard this quote on the Tim Ferris show with Rolf Potts, author of Vagabonding. During the show, Potts mentions this quote (attributed to Mark Twain):

God created war so Americans would learn geography.

Being a human geography teacher, I know this to be true. Many of my students don’t remember 9/11, they were toddlers or smaller. They don’t remember our 2nd go-round in Iraq, much less the first in 1990-91.
So when Obama gives a speech about ISIL, they wonder several things:

  • What is he talking about?
  • Where in the world are the places he’s talking about?

Vox (in their 14 maps that explain ISIS) has done a great job of showing this critical geography to us.  Here’s one of the maps that shows ISIS control.

isis control vox mapIn our Theory of Knowledge class this past week, we assigned groups of students to represent each of the players involved:

  • Turkey
  • ISIS
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Syria
  • Kurds
  • Israel

What’s amazing is how fast my students could get up to speed on the complexity and dynamics of the region.  Secondly, when each group presented what their country wanted, you get a sense of the challenge involved.  Every country wants something different in this part of the world and there’s very little commonality.

Regardless of what you (or I) think should happen in this part of the world, or what American involvement should be, we should take Twain’s advice and learn the geography – if for no other reason than it’s a gift (divine or otherwise).