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Thursday, May 18, 2006

Where in the World Is … ?

Globalization has arrived. We hear about it every day.

The world is becoming a smaller place, they say. People all around the globe supposedly know more about other countries and other cultures than previous generations could even imagine.

Maybe other countries are like that. But not the United States.

The National Geographic-Roper Public Affairs 2006 Geographic Literacy Study, released last week, revealed that the “Internet” generation of 18-to-24-year-old Americans remains woefully ignorant of the world. Here are a few shocking results:

-- Around three-quarters of respondents could not locate Israel on a map.

-- Almost 90% failed to point to Afghanistan.

-- More than half of those surveyed were unable to find Ohio.

This is rather embarrassing for the world’s lone superpower. Finding out where we’re going as a country is hard enough; making our way without even knowing the game board … well, that borders on the tragic.

It does explain a few things, however.

Many Americans still go to bed without food. That’s because they can’t locate Turkey. (Not to mention Greece.)

We also are increasingly out of shape. More and more people have been saying, “I sat on the couch” instead of “Iran.”

No wonder it took so long to sort out the 2000 election ballots in Florida: Americans just can’t find Chad.

Well, one thing’s for sure. It’s high time for us all to become more familiar with geography. Surely there’s something we can do to improve our education about the world, a way to ensure future generations are better players at this global board game.

I’ll Czech it out.

24 Comments:

At May 18, 2006 8:23 AM, Blogger OnMyWatch replied to my musings ...

Now Kuwaiti just one minute. Maybe the PTA should Sweden the deal and buy more globes for the students. Uganda start somewhere, right?

 
At May 18, 2006 9:02 AM, Blogger Curare_Z replied to my musings ...

But we Americans certainly know how to Taiwan on. I think if we moved NASCAR to Madagascar people would be a lot more interested in geography....

 
At May 18, 2006 9:14 AM, Blogger The Phoenix replied to my musings ...

Geography is part of Cultural Literacy. It's shocking sometimes how many Americans are simply culturally illiterate.

Americans, however, do love to eat Chile when they get Hungary.

 
At May 18, 2006 9:35 AM, Blogger Mojotek replied to my musings ...

It really is a sad sad state of affairs. But kudos for making it so damn funny!

 
At May 18, 2006 9:56 AM, Blogger Perplexio replied to my musings ...

If geography/history teachers were to use the game Risk as a teaching aid it might help some...

 
At May 18, 2006 10:45 AM, Blogger angel, jr. replied to my musings ...

Geography is a sore spot. Whenever I tell people I'm from West Virginia, they always ask, "What part of the western portion of Virginina did I live in".

 
At May 18, 2006 12:07 PM, Anonymous Bruce replied to my musings ...

U.S. education Israeli in a sad state, isn't it?

 
At May 18, 2006 12:59 PM, Blogger Anita replied to my musings ...

I have a friend who's a history teacher and she says the reason the kids don't learn is because the parents don't care if they do their homework, etc. every night. If your mama ain't making you do it what can the teacher do?

But what can we do? Are we just supposed to kuwait around for the government to do something? (Okay that was bad, but it was all I had.) Federal education funding is a joke.

 
At May 18, 2006 1:06 PM, Blogger Zen Wizard replied to my musings ...

Here's my solution: Every high school kid should get a complimentary trip to New Mexico.

It's a foreign country that is still closer than Old Mexico, and kids would learn stuff like converting their dollars into New Pesos, speaking New Mexican, and interacting with the strange and exotic people who are the New Mexicans.

New Mexico has always been a great ally to the United States; I don't think there has ever been a war between New Mexico and the US.

This would be one way of saying, "Hey! New Mexicans! You're real close, and we appreciate ya!! Just don't steal jobs from Americans, okay??"

Plus, kids would know about at least one foreign country...

 
At May 18, 2006 1:53 PM, Blogger Pixie replied to my musings ...

I noticed that about the US as well. I watch the news and its like 99% American , where as watch the news in the UK and its like 99% world news.But then this could be due to the fact that we (the UK) are all unpatriotic moaners heh.

 
At May 18, 2006 7:58 PM, Blogger Bar Bar A replied to my musings ...

We also are increasingly out of shape. More and more people have been saying, “I sat on the couch” instead of “Iran.”

You are so witty...you really should get paid for this stuff.

I worked for an international organization for 15 years and had a map of the world in front of my face every day, that's how I learned.

Excellent post as always!

 
At May 18, 2006 9:19 PM, Blogger Mimi replied to my musings ...

Whats really sad is the people Jay Leno goes up to on the street and can't answer when he asks who is our VP or who is on the dollar bill.

 
At May 19, 2006 1:56 AM, Blogger PDD replied to my musings ...

The reason why three-quarters of respondents could not locate Israel on a map is because Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad took Israel off the map. I am still not sure if Israel is now located in Europe or the States or even Canada.

There is this saying. I don't know if you've ever heard it, but here it goes anyway:

"The only countries Americans are aware of are the ones they fight."

It's a saying. I didn't make it up.

And by the way, I am not one of those anti-American nut jobs.

 
At May 19, 2006 10:41 AM, Blogger LocuTus of Borg replied to my musings ...

That was awesome David ... nice play on words! You know it is silly that people can not locate the geography, but you're right who honestly needs to know where Chad is? I think its more important for people to understand the voting and tax process, then maybe it might get fixed a little better.

 
At May 19, 2006 4:34 PM, Blogger debbiecakes replied to my musings ...

I may not be able to find Afganistan, or spell it for that matter, but I knows where Ohio be. I live there.

 
At May 19, 2006 6:17 PM, Blogger Kay replied to my musings ...

When I've mentioned my geography degree, people often exclaim (with pride!) how little they know about that subject and surprised that it's a college major.

I admittedly struggle with math quite a bit, but I do know how to use a calculator. In a similar sense, people don't have to memorize all of the capitals, but it makes sense to be able to competently use tools like atlases. Map reading skills are essential to making sense of the world and appreciating how everything is connected... too bad they aren't taught more.

 
At May 19, 2006 7:39 PM, Blogger Sage replied to my musings ...

I know my Geography pretty well as was educated in Massachusetts. Now living in Florida because of the crazy politicians I don't know where Cuba is.

 
At May 20, 2006 7:00 AM, Anonymous Fred Charles replied to my musings ...

I can find Iran and Afghanistan on the map but it's usless information since I have no plans on ever visiting either of those places. I don't plan on visiting Ohio either.

 
At May 20, 2006 10:43 AM, Blogger David Amulet replied to my musings ...

I have also heard that Americans only know where countries are if we go to war there ... but that doesn't explain the ignorance of Afghanistan's location.

And I would argue that it DOES matter to know where things are even if you don't plan to go there -- understanding the game board makes it much more clear how vital places like Afghanistan and Iraq are.

Less so for Ohio, of course.

There seems to be a mix of opinion on this one -- do you think geography is important or not??

-- david

 
At May 20, 2006 3:43 PM, Blogger Amy replied to my musings ...

The youth of America should be Hungary for knowledge.

 
At May 20, 2006 5:17 PM, Blogger PDD replied to my musings ...

David: I think the question "Do you think Geography is important or not?" goes without saying. Of course it is. It's also interesting to learn about Geography (At least I love it) but I think maybe the problem is there are just some people who don't find Geography interesting enough to incorporate it in their daily lives. Which is too bad because some could turn down free vacations when they learn they have just won a trip to Nassau, thinking that it's only a tour at Nasa, which would be equally amazing in my opinion, but I have a strong hunch there are others out there whose opinions differ from mine.

 
At May 21, 2006 12:09 PM, Blogger Ben Heller replied to my musings ...

It always makes me smile when I talk to Americans and they ask where I live. When I tell them, they always say "Is that anywhere near London ?" For most Americans England is London and some green fields tended by Farmers with bad teeth.

 
At May 21, 2006 2:36 PM, Blogger Bad Girl replied to my musings ...

:::scratching head::: I dunno. The same high school that left me geographically challenged also taught me how to properly punch a voting card, so my chads never hung.

I think that might have been a good trade-off.

 
At May 21, 2006 5:38 PM, Blogger An80sNut replied to my musings ...

I'm happy my parents worked out private school for us when we were younger or I am sure my geographic knowledge would be limited to local streets and highways. I read an interesting stat that said that on average taxpayers send $6,000 towards public education per child while parents of children in private schools average less than half of that in tuition.

 

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