Thinking with Maps: Understanding the World through Spatialization

Spatial reasoning, which promises connection across wide areas, is itself ironically often not connected to other areas of knowledge. Thinking with Maps: Understanding the World through Spatialization addresses this problem, developing its argument through historical analysis and cross-disciplinary examples involving maps. The idea of maps here includes traditional cartographic representations of physical environments, but more broadly encompasses the wide variety of ways that visualizations are used across all disciplines to enable understanding, to generate new knowledge, and to effect change.

The idea of thinking with maps is also used broadly. Maps become, not simply one among many items to learn about, but indispensable tools for thinking across every field of inquiry, in a way similar to that of textual and mathematical language. Effective use of maps becomes a way to make knowledge, much as writing or mathematical exploration not only displays ideas, but also creates them. The book shows that maps for thinking are not just a means to improve geographic knowledge, as valuable as that may be. Instead, they provide mechanisms for rejuvenating our engagement with the world, helping us to become more capable of facing our global challenges.

This book has a broader aim: It is fundamentally about general principles of how we learn and know. It calls for a renewed focus on democratic education in which both the means and ends are democratic. Education, just as the political realm, should follow Dewey’s dictum that “democratic ends need democratic methods for their realization.” Maps and mapping are invaluable in that endeavor.

Available from Rowman & Littlefield (as well as Amazon, etc.), April 1, 2020

978-1-4758-5928-7 • Hardback

978-1-4758-5929-4 • Paperback

978-1-4758-5930-0 • eBook


  • School of Information Sciences, University of Illinois, May 27, 2021
  • Bruce’s fascinating and insightful book draws the reader into a wide-ranging exploration of the nature of maps, and their vital roles in the process of education and global understanding.– Michael H. Fisher, Danforth Professor of History, Oberlin College, US
  • The author connects “maps and map-making” to virtually every discipline and human endeavor by leveraging his unusual multidisciplinary experience.– Nama Budhathoki, Executive Chairman, Kathmandu Living Labs, Nepal
  • By emphasizing maps as visual language… it address a serious deficit in the way maps are currently taught… identifies maps and other graphics as essential elements in helping us make connections across time, space, and subject material.– Gary Benenson, Project Director of City Technology, City College of New York
  • This book’s novelty comes from providing the concept of visualized contextual thinking with both a strong philosophical foundation and important real-world applications… We all do much of our thinking with maps. This book shows just how broadly this idea applies and how profound are its implications: for teaching, for learning, for improving society. An insightful and inspiring perspective.– Philip H. Crowley, Professor of Biology, University of Kentucky
  • Bruce explodes our traditional conception of maps as he considers maps as tools of inquiry in diverse fields. He continually reaches beyond maps to consideration of what maps afford us, even a view of ourselves.– Sam Brian, City University of New York
  • I recommend this book very highly—it’s a read that makes one feel in the company of an intelligent mind, who is taking one’s hand, and leading one down a path of fascinating, interconnected thoughts on the importance and meaning of maps, which are used to gain a better appreciation of a region’s physical and social history. Read this is as if one has become an explorer, invited down a timeline and across the earth, to learn from the revelations along the journey. From the old fold-up maps we all struggled with during car trips to the technological advances of current cartography, maps reveal culture, values, politics, claim territory or indeed even assert the existence of a people, such as the recent locating of thousands of indigenous communities in Peru. This is a valuable journey, spent with a well-informed traveler!– Mary Grizzard, Professor of National Security Affairs (retired), National Defense University, Washington, DC
  • This book is a fascinating collection of ideas about maps, their many forms, and the way people use them to both influence and be influenced by their environment. Maps and map reading are presented as personal experiences. Every map has a maker and every map has a user.– Abby Kerlin and Ellen McCrum, Bank Street College of Education
  • This is a fascinating book! If you would like to know what Paris street names have in common with the study of poverty in Nineteenth Century London, if you are curious about how fossilized footprints discovered in England shed light on the daily life of humans who lived 850,000 years ago, or wonder how maps can be used in the classroom to promote democratic education, this is the book for you.– Paul Horwitz, Concord Consortium

Education’s Ecosystems: Learning through Life

EE coverThis book offers a new perspective on learning that is integrated and connected to lived experience. It presents a model for salient characteristics of both biological and pedagogical ecosystems, involving diversity, interaction, emergence, construction, and interpretation.

Examples from around the world show how learning can be made more whole and relevant. The book should be valuable to educators, parents, policy makers, and anyone interested in democratic education.

Foreword by John Pecore, University of West Florida

Available from Rowman & Littlefield (as well as Amazon, etc.), April 1, 2020

ISBN-13: 978-1475851199

ISBN-10: 1475851197
  • John L. Pecore and Franklin S. Allaire, Schools: Studies in Education, Spring 2021 “brings to life the idea of learning ecosystems to serve as a metaphor for viewing teach- ing and learning. Much like biological ecosystems describe the interactions between the different biotic and abiotic elements of an environment, learn- ing ecosystems broadly conceive of learning through interactions of all expe- riences of democratic life.”
  • Choice: “offers an accessible analysis of the possibilities for effective teaching and learning in the modern era. The text argues for the necessity of rethinking contemporary teaching and learning strategies by identifying evidence-driven inequities in current educational outcomes, referring to the resulting impoverishments and marginalizations as disasters…. Especially provocative is Bruce’s use of the evolutionary concept of ecological niche to reconceptualize learning. The chapter devoted to redefining terms such as teaching and learning alone establishes the value of the book. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower- and upper-division undergraduates. Graduate students. Faculty. General readers.

Démocratie et éthique sociale

Jane Addams’s Democracy and Social Ethics is a fascinating book. Although it was written in 1902, it has a surprising relevance for today.

A major contribution to philosophy, the book develops a theory of social ethics, which extends classical theories oriented toward individual virtues and actions. For social policy it offers ways to think about issues such as racism, immigration, economic injustice, democracy, and social improvement. The abstract ideas are linked to Addams’s own concrete work with Hull-House in Chicago.

Unfortunately, her work is not nearly as well known within the US as it should be. Speakers of languages other than English rarely encounter her work.

Bernard Jung and Céline Jung have gone a long way to remedy that situation, with a translation of Democracy and Social Ethics into French. It has just been issued by Editions Raison et Passions (Dijon, France) as Démocratie et éthique sociale. Céline and I added an introduction discussing the relevance of the book to France and French readers today.

Progressive Education In Nepal: The Community Is the Curriculum

Nepal is a country with daunting needs in terms of basic education and other social services. At the same time, its cultural and moral wealth provide a strong basis for meaningful life and learning. In particular, it offers fertile ground for progressive education, in which learning grows out of experiences in the community. Thus, despite material poverty, the country holds the possibility of significant advances, even international leadership, in the area of progressive education. This book reports on recent educational innovations. There are 118 color photos.


Available in paper and ebook formats:


Good reads

International Handbook of Progressive Education

International Handbook of Progressive Education cover I returned from Newfoundland to a pleasant surprise. There were three large boxes containing contributor copies of our new International Handbook of Progressive Education (Peter Lang, 2015)The book represents a project involving over 60 authors and editors from countries around the world.

Mustafa Yunus Eryaman and I are editors, aided immeasurably by Section editors John Pecore, Brian Drayton, Maureen Hogan, Jeanne Connell, Alistair Ross, and Martina Riedler.

The International Handbook of Progressive Education engages contemporary debates about the purpose of education, presenting diverse ideas developed within a broadly conceived progressive education movement.

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Youth community inquiry: New media for community and personal growth

Youth community inquiry: New media for community and personal growthBertram C. Bruce, Ann Peterson Bishop, Nama R. Budhathoki (eds.)

Youth Community Inquiry offers a detailed look at how young people use new media to help their communities thrive. Chapters address questions about learning, digital technology, and community engagement through the theory of community inquiry. The settings range from a small farming town, to a mostly immigrant community, to inner-city Chicago, and include youth from ages eight to 20. Going beyond works on social media in a narrow sense, the projects in these settings involve the use of varied technologies, such as GPS/GIS mapping tools, video production, use of archives and databases, podcasts, and Internet radio. The development of inquiry-based activities serves as a record of the diverse experiences and a guide to future projects. The book concludes with an overview of a curriculum that readers may adapt for their own settings.
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Libraries: Changing information space and practice

librairiesThis volume examines the social, cultural, and political implications of the shift from traditional forms of print-based libraries to the delivery of online information in educational contexts. Despite the central role of libraries in literacy and learning, research of them has, in the main, remained isolated within the disciplinary boundaries of information and library science. By contrast, this book problematizes and thereby mainstreams the field. It brings together scholars from a wide range of academic fields to explore the dislodging of library discourse from its longstanding apolitical, modernist paradigm.

Collectively, the authors interrogate the presuppositions of current library practice and examine how library as place and library as space blend together in ways that may be both complementary and contradictory. Seeking a suitable term to designate this rapidly evolving and much contested development, the editors devised the word “libr@ry,” and use the term arobase to signify the conditions of formation of new libraries within contexts of space, knowledge, and capital.

Kaptizke, Cushla, & Bruce, Bertram C. (Eds.) (2006). Libr@ries: Changing information space and practice. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. [ISBN 0-8058-5481-9]

Literacy in the information age: Inquiries into meaning making with new technologies

liabookEducators today want to go beyond how-to manuals and publications that merely celebrate the many exciting new technologies as they appear in schools. Students are immersed in an evolving world of new technology development in which they are not passive recipients of these technologies but active interpreters of them. How do you help learners interpret these technologies as we all become immersed in the new information age? Continue reading


Discoveries (1995) was a series of four interactive CD-ROM programs for Grades 3-6 (ages 8-12). It included hypertext, panoramic images, and immersive technology in a pre-web ecology.


The series won the National Educational Media Award (1996), the New England Book Show Award (1996), the Bookbuilder’s Award (1995), and was selected for the Gallery at the Fifth Annual Macromedia Conference (1994). 

Titles in the series

img_3975Into the Forest (Great Smoky Mountains National Park) [ISBN 0-669-36168-2]

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Teacher to teacher

t2tAlvermann, D. E., Arrington, H. J., Bridge, C. A., Bruce, B. C., Fountas, I. C., Garcia, E., Paris, S. G., Ruiz, N. T., Schmidt, B. A., Searfoss, L. W., & Winograd, P. (1995). Teacher to teacher: A professional’s handbook for the primary classroom. Lexington, MA: D. C. Heath. [218 pp.; ISBN 0-669-35984-X]

Also, Alvermann, D. E., Arrington, H. J., Bridge, C. A., Bruce, B. C., Fountas, I. C., Garcia, E., Paris, S. G., Ruiz, N. T., Schmidt, B. A., Searfoss, L. W., & Winograd, P. (1995). Teacher to teacher: A professional’s handbook for the intermediate classroom. Lexington, MA: D. C. Heath. [216 pp.; ISBN 0-669-35985-8]