An app to help you teach geography, empathy AND introspection

The Lottery of Birth: Teaching Geography & Introspection

teaching geographyWhat would our students’ lives have been like had they been born elsewhere? Would they be the same persons they are? Would they have been given the same choices? Of course we’ll never know just how different their lives would have been elsewhere, but If It Were My Home is a free, interactive tool that will help your students reflect on these questions.

The Lottery of Birth: Teaching Geography & Introspection

What is it?
If It Were My home
is a “country-comparison” tool that allows users to compare living conditions in one country to those in another. The site also gives you the ability to visualize the impact of natural disasters. Right now users can only view the BP Oil Spill or the Pakistan Flood, but we presume that this portion of the site is still a work in progress.   

How does it work?  teaching geography2
Select a country and watch it overlay onto your own region. This is useful for visualizing the relative size of another country in comparison to your own.

You’ll also gain a better sense of how life compares in that country to your own. For example, if you live in the United States and “relocated” to Taiwan, you’ll find that you would:

  • Consume 44.67% less oil
  • Spend 74.03% less money on health care
  • Have 36.56% more chance at being employed
  • Make 35.78% less money
  • Have 35.14% less babies
  • Use 20.05% less electricity
  • Have 14.33% less chance of dying in infancy
  • Die 0.089999999999989 years sooner

If you want to know specifically how much more oil the United States consumes than Taiwan (in gallons), click on the drop down menu and find out.

And if you’re looking for more substantive information about your selected country, simply scroll down to the bottom of the page and browse their recommended reading list.

There are endless possibilities for how you might incorporate this website into the classroom. Kelly Tenkely from iLearn Technology suggests using it as a creative writing tool. Have your students imagine that they are relocating to a new country. Based on the information they glean from the site, they could create a fictional account of what life would be like in that country. Tenkely has also used the site’s statistical data for some real world mathematical comparison between countries.  For example, if Rwanda has a 10.7 times higher chance of dying in infancy, how many infant deaths does it expect on average per year?  If Rwandans make 98.06% less than Americans, what would you expect an average salary to be?

If It Were My Home is only one of many interactive map applications out there. And as luck would have it, we’ve written about 5 other Interactive Map Generator apps we think are worth checking out!


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