Schools in Boston ditch ‘distorted and outdated’ map of the world for more accurate plan
Schools in Boston have discarded the widely used but distorted map of the world in a bid to give children a more accurate depiction of the world.
Social studies teachers in the public schools in Massachusetts ditched the established Mercator Projection map (pictured above) last week.
Instead, they have moved on to the more accurate Gall-Peters Projection map, which gives a more precise view of the planet.
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The Mercator map has long been controversial as it makes South America seem as large as Europe when it is actually nearly twice as big.
It also makes Greenland look as large as Africa, when it is in fact 14 times smaller.
Schools in Boston are following the guidelines of the United Nations, which has stated that the Gall-Peters Projection is a fairer representation of the world.
It is thought Boston is the first public school district in the US to make the switch to the new map official.
Teachers in 2nd, 7th and 11th grades have already started using the new maps with their pupils.
‘Some of their reactions were quite funny, but it was also amazingly interesting to see them questioning what they thought they knew,’ Natacha Scott, director of history and social studies at Boston Public Schools, told the Guardian.
The Mercator Projection was created by Flemish geographer Gerardus Mercator in 1569 and has become the standard map all over the world.
However, it paints a very Eurocentric view of the globe and it distorted land masses because of its attempt to depict a round planet on a flat map.
The Gall-Peters Projection was presented by German historian Arno Peters in 1974, and it matches a work by 19th century Scottish map-maker James Gall.
Colin Rose, assistant superintendent of opportunity and achievement gaps for Boston public schools, told the Guardian: ‘Maybe we can be an example for other school districts.
‘It’s a paradigm shift. It’s important that students trust the material they are given in school but also question it.
‘The Mercator projection is a symbolic representation that put Europe at the centre of the world. And when you continue to show images of the places where people’s heritage is rooted that is not accurate, that has an effect on students.’