The geographical names in the primary and secondary schools

Room D
Monday, 31 August 2015
13.00 – 14.45
place names, street-naming

The geographical place names in the primary an secondary schools

Primary and secondary textbooks are far from adequately presenting historical, linguistic, geographical, cultural, political traits, related not only to the names of the cities proper but also to their outer and inner parts. School textbooks neglect or pay scarce attention to names of landscapes, regions, morphology, hydrography and vegetation as well so to roads, streets, squares, monuments.

Important issues related to cities which are generally ignored in school textbooks concern the reasons behind the foundation of a city or for its natural birth. Cities may have been founded for their central position or may have arisen spontaneously thanks to natural environmental factors. Human factors such as the naming of a city after it (the eponymous hero) and political events responsible for a change in the place name or the restauration or conservation of preexisting names.

If we now turn to textbooks of the courses of history and geography of the primary and secondary schools, we will observe that drawbacks we have pinpointed are overwhelming.

Most of the textbooks do not contemplate the different aspects of place names: (i) meaning; (ii) the derivation of the name of the founder; (iii) the event or the character which they refer to; (iv) the location of a specific activity such as an exploitation of a mine, an industry etc.; (v) the name of a saint, a sailor, a hero.

Although they may undergo name changes for reasons of urban policy, names of streets, roads, squares and monuments related to outstanding people and major events should be included in school textbooks.

It is also important to know the history of the spread of place names in the world.

Cosimo Palagiano
Sapienza Università di Roma
cosimo.palagiano [at]

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