Why Some U.S. Classrooms Are Replacing Traditional World Maps
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Why Some U.S. Classrooms Are Replacing Traditional World Maps

U.S. Map Corrections
Daniel R. Strebe

Children in Boston’s public schools were introduced to a new world map last week, offering a comparison to the traditional Mercator projection map commonly used in classrooms.

Boston’s public schools have been rolling out the Gall-Peters projection maps in social studies classes, as it “more accurately reflects the size of the world,” Dan O'Brien, press secretary for Boston Public Schools, told Travel + Leisure.

The Mercator map, created by Gerardus Mercator back in 1569, has been noted for its size exaggerations of continents in the northern hemisphere, including a North America and Europe that are larger than South Africa and a South America that’s roughly the same size as Europe, as The Guardian points out.

The move is meant to help "decolonize" the current system by locating curriculum areas that may have implicit biases and finding ways to better create content that addresses its diverse range of students.

“The Peters projection has created a lot of controversy over the years because it distorts shapes, but it’s enormously visually important in terms of the scale and position of the terrain on the Earth, showing the correct size and proportion of the continents,” Bob Abramms, the founder of map publisher ODT, told The Guardian.

The schools will be placing the Peters projection maps alongside the Mercator projection maps for comparison in second, seventh, and eleventh grade classrooms.

"We've had several students say that they never knew the size of the countries where some of their ancestors come from were so big," O’Brien told T+L.

“Mapping is a complex and detailed process, but this way we can offer our students a look at the perspective they’re used to seeing versus a different perspective,” he said.

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