BECOMING A GEOGRAPHICALLY INFORMED PERSON
From Geography for Life: National Geography Standards 1994,
National Council on Geographic Education
 
Physical and human phenomena are spatially distributed over Earth's surface.  A geographically informed person (1) sees meaning in the arrangement of things in space, (2) sees relations between people, places, and environments, (3) uses geographic skills, and (4) applies spatial and ecological perspectives to life situations.
I.  THE WORLD IN SPATIAL TERMS
Geography studies relationships between people, places, and environments by mapping information about them into a spatial context.  This is the geographic perspective.  The geographically informed person knows and understands:
1. How to use maps and other geographic representations, tools and technologies to acquire, process and report information from a spatial perspective.
2. How to use mental maps to organize information about people, places, and environments in a spatial context.
3. How to analyze the spatial organization of people, places, and environments on Earth's surface.
II.  PLACES AND REGIONS
The identities and lives of individuals and peoples are rooted in particular places in those human constructs called regions.  Places and regions are the basic units of geography, and those units are seen differently by different people.  The geographically informed person knows and understands:
4. The physical and human characteristics of places.
5. That people create regions to interpret earth's complexity.
6. Low culture and experience influence people's perceptions of places and regions
III.  PHYSICAL SYSTEMS
Physical processes shape Earth's surface and interact with plant and animal life to create, sustain, and modify ecosystems.  These processes are organized into functional units -- ecosystems.  The geographically informed person knows and understands:
7. The physical processes that shape the patterns of Earth's surface.
8. The characteristics and spatial distribution of ecosystems on Earth's surface.
IV.  HUMAN SYSTEMS
People are central to geography in that human activities help shape Earth's surface, human settlements and structures are part of Earth's surface, and humans compete for control of Earth's surface.  The geographically informed person knows and understands:
9. The characteristics, distribution, and migration of human population on Earth's surface.
10. The characteristics, distribution, and complexity of Earth's cultural mosaics.
11. The patterns and networks of economic interdependence on Earth's surface.
12. The processes, patterns, and functions of human settlement.
13. How the forces of cooperation and conflict among people influence human control of Earth's surface.
V.  ENVIRONMENT AND SOCIETY
The physical environment is modified by human activities, largely as a consequence of the ways in which human societies value and use Earth's natural resources, and human activities are also influenced by Earth's physical features and processes.  Emphasis is placed on the interaction between physical and human systems and on recognizing the central role of resources in environment-society links.   The geographically informed person knows and understands:
14. How human actions modify the physical environment.
15. How physical systems affect human systems.
16. The changes that occur in meaning, use, distribution and importance or resources.
VI.  THE USES OF GEOGRAPHY
Knowledge of geography enables people to develop an understanding of the relationships between people, places, and environments over time--that is, of Earth as it was, is, and might be.  Geography, taken as a whole, enables us to understand the past, interpret the present, and plan for the future.  The geographically informed person knows and understands:
17. How to apply geography to interpret the past.
18. How to apply geography to interpret the present and plan for the future.
 
The geographically informed person uses 5 sets of skills:
1. Asking geographic questions: Questions revolve around asking why things are  where they are, how they got there and what is the significance of their being there?

2. Acquiring geographic information: Geographic information is information about locations, the physical and human characteristics of those locations, and the geographic activities and conditions of the people who live in those places.

3. Organizing geographic information: Once collected, geographic information should be organized and displayed in ways that help analysis and interpretation; these range from the visual and graphical (e.g., maps, graphs, diagrams, tables) to the written (e.g., essays, paragraphs, pertinent quotes, tables).

4. Analyzing geographic information: involves seeking patterns, relationships and connections, noting such things as similarities, trends and differences over space and time

5. Answering geographic questions:  Successful geographic inquiry culminates in the development and communication of generalizations, inferences and conclusions based on the data gathered, organized and analyzed.