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  The Chatter Box : Blathering On
Messages 1 2 

An F in Geography by pandab on 3 May 2006 3:23am
I read a CNN article today that depressed the heck out of me.

According to the National Geographic-Roper Public Affairs 2006 Geographic Literacy Study, American young adults (18 to 24) failed dismally at geography. Here are a few of the numbers:

33% could not pinpoint Louisana on a map.

2/3 didn't know the earthquake that killed 70,000 in October 2005 happened in Pakistan.

63% could not find Iraq or Saudi Arabia on a map of the Middle East.

47% could not find the Indian subcontinent on a map of Asia.

75% could not locate Israel on a map of the Middle East.

88% could not find Afghanistan on a map of Asia.

50% could not find New York state on a map.

43% could not locate Ohio on a map.

I admit I was not shocked, but the scale of it did surprise me.

The article (http://www.cnn.com/2006/EDUCATION/05/02/geog.test/index.html) had an interactive geography quiz with 18 questions asking you to identify countries on a map. The questions start easy and got progressively harder. I'm happy to report I only missed 2 <G>!

Re: An F in Geography by tucsonmike on 3 May 2006 4:39am
It's depressing, I am not shocked and I have NO idea what the solution is. Actually, I have my own thoughts, but doubt anyone would listen.
Re: An F in Geography by canaveralgumby on 3 May 2006 4:51am
It's like I've been saying, it's the Fall of the American Empire. Fat and ignorant, that's us! The next generation will not be able to maintain. I'm not saying that's necessarily a BAD thing!... Maybe it's the European Union's turn.

I taught my son geography and basic world civlizations. I admit to utilizing video games when necessary, but I did it because otherwise he'd be one of those statistics. For you frustrated parents out there - may I suggest "Sid Meyer's Civilization" games as a jumping off point.

When he was little we read a book at bedtime ("With a melon?!") and then I told him I would "let" him stay up later if we read about one place in the atlas.

I still have a blank about the US region of Kansas/Nebraska/South Dakota - there's a dead zone in my mind from west of Illinios to Colorado! Therefore I think I should make my next vacation in this area.

Re: An F in Geography by intrepid on 3 May 2006 10:47am
The thing that bugs me about these surveys is that they ALWAYS demonstrate the ignorance of people who are "younger". The truth is that most Americans OVER 24 can't find East Timor on a map of Timor. Everybody is just as bad.

Another thing that bothers me is that it usually gets blamed on the schools. I want to say, "Folks, you probably GOT this in school, but you FORGOT because the info hasn't been reinforced by anything you've heard or read since!" It's not your social studies teacher's fault you forgot where Afghanistan is 6 years after you graduated. The the information we get, especially the so-called news on TV, won't waste any time giving context or background on a region it thinks we don't already know something about. "Hey. He's saying there are strikes in Azerbajan? It sounds like it's in third world. No wonder people are unhappy there! Come on, News Anchor- you think I'm stupid or something? I know all about Azerbajanstan and all those African places already. Tell me something I DON'T know."
Re: An F in Geography by sarahs on 3 May 2006 2:01pm
the thing is geography in school is much more than countries and their capitals. the last time i learnt about the location of countries was when i was about 9 in primary school.

i chose to study geography until A-Level and i never once looked at where countries are. instead geography was about earthquakes, volcanoes, weather, glaciers, poverty, etc.

i took the quiz and i got 6 out of 6 in beginners, but for the next two levels i'd rather not say

Re: An F in Geography by montyfreak0234 on 3 May 2006 2:45pm
That is pretty shocking. Which remindes me, ther was a study to see how well Americans are with geography so they laybled Australia as Iraq and asked which country we should bomb. Almost all was on Ausrtalia when they thought it was actually Iraq.
Re: An F in Geography by Wild in Africa on 3 May 2006 3:01pm
This quiz is very US biased though. I'm OK on most countries in the world but have only got a fairly vague idea of a lot of US States (except the obvious Big Ones such as Texas, California, Florida, Alaska). This test is culturally specific therefore and is like asking a Japanese to identify Gwynedd or Somerset and Avon in the UK.
Re: An F in Geography by intrepid on 3 May 2006 7:31pm
The quiz was biased- although I wouldn't say very- towards Americans, although to be fair, the article and the quiz are aimed at Americans. The test I got(100% on all parts (woo or hoo), but I like maps) only had 2 U.S. states, New York and Louisiana.
I wouldn't say it necessarily indicates the fall of the American Empire- since when was the U.S. ever good at world geography? It sure doesn't help, though, if Americans assume that, say, Osama Bin Ladin and the Turks all speak the same language. It just leads to uninformed generalizing about the world, and the U.S. news doesn't help squat. Americans are as inquisitive as anybody but are passively given the impression that there isn't much else interesting out there.
Re: An F in Geography by montyfreak0234 on 4 May 2006 2:17am
I am halfway decent with geography for an American of my age. With most countries I know where apporxamately it is but I'd need some of them labeled. But I am not at the far extreme where I can't find my own state on the map.
Re: An F in Geography by tucsonmike on 4 May 2006 6:30pm
Cori, I found a book in Borders written by a Sociologist at the Univ. of Chicago. He discusses how we are in decline. Another book spoke about the rise of the European Union. I wonder if there is a correlation, that people need something pushing (or threatening) them to make a culture dynamic. I am reading a book I stumbled on called Celt and Roman. That's what made me think of it.
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