Classrooms all over the world have both maps and globes. Educators use these to show students relationships between countries, distances between cities and where certain landmarks are, and to help illustrate where and how certain historical events happened. Although globes offer a more accurate representation of the Earth, many educators and classrooms prefer maps. Although they show stretched-out, two-dimensional representations that aren’t to scale, maps have many advantages over globes.
Because they are two-dimensional pieces of paper, maps expand and contract easily. You can use maps that are large enough for everyone in the room to see, or small ones that students can use individually. Globes are usually produced in one size that is too small for everyone to see clearly at once and too large for everyone to have his or her own. Two-dimensional maps are inexpensive and easy to copy and reproduce en masse or to blow up to large proportions while still rolling easily into a casing.
Maps allow teachers to enlarge areas of the world so that students can see the layout of cities and towns close up. Maps exist for the entire world, from countries, states and cities down to street blocks. Using these different kinds of maps together helps students connect the things on the maps to the world around them.
It is much easier to see the distances and relationships between areas of the Earth on a map than on a globe. Because maps are flat, the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. Students can easily see the beginning and end of the line and judge for themselves how close or far away two points are from each other. This is harder on a globe because it is three-dimensional. For instance, if a student wants to see how far Washington, D.C., is from Istanbul, he must turn the globe to find the cities. The movement makes it difficult to judge distance, and some of the visual comprehension is lost. On a flat map, however, a student can easily point to each city and measure the distance between her fingers with a glance.