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Old 05-02-2006, 10:04 AM   #1 (permalink)
 
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"Where's Louisiana?"--Nat'l Geo poll

A recent poll conducted by National Geographic on 18-24 year old Americans found that this group basicall doesn't know jack about geography. This is not really a surprise to me, but a few things are pretty unacceptable. Not knowing where ISRAEL is? Or Iraq, for crying out loud? Or hell, even Louisiana? Unfortunately, I'd be willing to bet that if they'd surveyed people age 24 and up, the results wouldn't be that different.

I guess what irritates me about these results is not only America's geographic ignorance (especially when compared with other countries'), but how we really do think WE, as the USA, make the world go 'round. English being the most widely-spoken native language... gimme a break here, guys. Only 14% think it's important to speak more than one language... sad. And the Mexican border being the most heavily fortified in the world? Yeah, alllllll 2,000 miles of it, solid steel... :Hmm:

Anyway, here's a link to the whole article, with a quote of some findings below:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12591413/

Quote:
Among the findings:

One-third of respondents couldnít pinpoint Louisiana on a map and 48 percent were unable to locate Mississippi.

Fewer than three in 10 think it important to know the locations of countries in the news and just 14 percent believe speaking another language is a necessary skill.

Two-thirds didnít know that the earthquake that killed 70,000 people in October 2005 occurred in Pakistan.

Six in 10 could not find Iraq on a map of the Middle East.

While the outsourcing of jobs to India has been a major U.S. business story, 47 percent could not find the Indian subcontinent on a map of Asia.

While Israeli-Palestinian strife has been in the news for the entire lives of the respondents, 75 percent were unable to locate Israel on a map of the Middle East.

Nearly three-quarters incorrectly named English as the most widely spoken native language.

Six in 10 did not know the border between North and South Korea is the most heavily fortified in the world. Thirty percent thought the most heavily fortified border was between the United States and Mexico.
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Old 05-02-2006, 10:16 AM   #2 (permalink)
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A story I have never forgotten, that is so absurd that it should be an urban legend, but it's not... When the Olympics were being held in Atlanta... a resident of the US State of New Mexico had called the ticket line to get tickets, and he was told that he had to call his nation's olympic committee.. the man explained that new mexico was indeed a state, the ticket taker, replied new mexico/old mexico it doesn't matter you still ahve to go thru your nation's olympic committee... Yup a customer service person didn't quite know the 50 states...

People not knowing bubkis about geography is not a new phenomenom.. . Tha Atlanta Olympics were in '96...

I will admit to being incredibly geographically challenged... for a number of years I was convinced that New Hampshire was landlocked (i couldn't quite explain Portsmouth but that's not the point... i used to get the positioning confused with vermont...)

Depending on where you go in this country, speaking english is skill enough... the local television station in New Hampshire is running a 5 part special on how to speak New Hampshirese... Umm.. that's gonna take 5 episodes???


Taking the quiz - I guess I'm a stooopid American...
I didn't think the questions were that hard, but I managed only an 80 percent...

Outside of Georgians - who knew that georgia had more landmass than Florida...
And Minnesotan should be proud to know thatthey are home to the headwaters of the Mississippi River..
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Old 05-02-2006, 10:27 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I was listening for some strange reason Sean Hanity's radio show. Similar thing except they were showing people of the street pictures of the people in our government, just regular Joes. I think everyone was able to recognized the President, but half couldn't recognize the Vice President and even less could match the faces of Condie and Rummy. Itís a shame these are the people whom are voting.

Not knowing where a state is.... That is terrible. Didn't we all learn the states and their capitals in the fifth grade?
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Old 05-02-2006, 10:37 AM   #4 (permalink)
 
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Btw, I forgot to include my own example: one of my best friends, god bless her, is an elementary school teacher (1st/2nd grade). A few years we were driving through CA on a road trip, watching TV in a Motel 6 and saw the Tonight Show. Jay Leno was interviewing people on the street about where Appalachia was. Most of them had no clue. My friend and I were laughing along... and then my friend, the elementary school teacher, stopped and asked me,

"Wait, Appalachia isn't a real country, right?"

I love her dearly, but...

In any case, my question is WHY the situation is so bad here in the US. As Apmle said, didn't we all learn this in the 5th grade (and 7th, and 11th, and in the newspapers every day, etc)?

Is it a problem of our educational system, or simply the degree to which we, as Americans, are truly so isolated in our own little worlds that we don't care where the rest of the world (or even the rest of the country) is, in relation to us?

And how could we possibly start to change these ethnocentric attitudes?
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Old 05-02-2006, 10:46 AM   #5 (permalink)
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I'm not so sure that the education system is to blame...

Not that I'm making excuses... but look at the size of the US compared to other countries... Many Americans will not get to the opposite coast they live on due to the distance... or expense... or time... If they don't go to another state.. they aren't going to pack up and go to antoher country...

Growing up, I lived 30 minutes from NYC - we had neighbors that had never been into the city... because the city (and in the 60s 70s it was probably true) was a scary place... and they had everything they needed in front of them... And the neighborhood I grew up in, was total United Nations.. the people across the street, the kids were bilingual.. Ukranian and American - the parents were off the boat Ukranians... the people in the other direction.. kids were bilingual Italian - Momma was off the boat from Roma... As a kid, i was exposed to a ton of different cultures without leaving my block... People didn't need to leave the area to find another culture...

I never got to Europe til I was in my 30s.. and it was on abusiness trip... I got sent to LOndon for a bunch of weeks - and hated London so much that I ended up everywhere but London on the weekends... The people I was working with (all native Londoners) used to be shocked that I would just pick up and head to Paris, or Brussells or Prague for a weekend... the attitude of -- you've got everything right here, why leave it - isn't just in the US - it's really everywhere...
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Old 05-02-2006, 11:13 AM   #6 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maleficent
the attitude of -- you've got everything right here, why leave it - isn't just in the US - it's really everywhere...
Now, I do understand that... I think it's actually very important to be committed to one's local community, and some people never do leave (and many of them can't afford to). I have no problem with that, though of course I wish it was mandatory for all high schoolers to spend one year abroad.

However, this attitude that "you've got everything right here,"... I don't see how it translates into, "I don't know where Louisiana, Israel or Iraq are... should I?" I mean, most people just don't think it's important to be *aware* of anything outside their own community (maybe even their own house/car/work). And that's what I'm trying to figure out about my fellow Americans... why is it not a priority for us to at least *know* where those places are?

On a very basic level, these are places that affect us on a daily basis, where Americans are dying, where billions of our dollars go... WHY don't we care where those places are?
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Old 05-02-2006, 11:14 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Here's how I look at the statistics:

Quote:
One-third of respondents couldnít pinpoint Louisiana on a map and 48 percent were unable to locate Mississippi.
I have a general idea of where t he states in America are but I probably couldn't pin point quite a few of them if you asked me to. The states in the North East are to me just a general jumble, and if I need to find out something specific about a state or find a state there, I've got pretty easy access to resources (maps, the internet, you name it) so I can understand how some people who aren't native to the region wouldn't know exactly where Louisiana or Mississippi are.

Quote:
Fewer than three in 10 think it important to know the locations of countries in the news and just 14 percent believe speaking another language is a necessary skill.
I'll agree that it's probably generally a good idea to know where important countries are, but on a day to day basis what happens around the world doesn't particularly apply to me. In regards to speaking another language, I don't intend to have any jobs in the future that will require me to know more than English. At this point knowing several languages is more of a fun fact to have on a resume than something altogether useful.

Quote:
Two-thirds didnít know that the earthquake that killed 70,000 people in October 2005 occurred in Pakistan.
I didn't know that. My best guess would have been Iran.

Quote:
Six in 10 could not find Iraq on a map of the Middle East.
I'm not entirely sure if I could find Iraq on a map. I could find the middle east and take a pretty good guess based on what I remember, but it's not as solid as knowing where Oklahoma or California is.

Quote:
While the outsourcing of jobs to India has been a major U.S. business story, 47 percent could not find the Indian subcontinent on a map of Asia.
Alright, that's kind of crazy, actually. India's a pretty big place.

Quote:
While Israeli-Palestinian strife has been in the news for the entire lives of the respondents, 75 percent were unable to locate Israel on a map of the Middle East.
Gotta admit that's a little crazy, too.

Quote:
Nearly three-quarters incorrectly named English as the most widely spoken native language.
I had to do a double take on that one before I realised native language, which I suppose would probably be Chinese. I can see how that's a reasonable mistake to make.

Quote:
Six in 10 did not know the border between North and South Korea is the most heavily fortified in the world. Thirty percent thought the most heavily fortified border was between the United States and Mexico.
I did not know that. I knew it wasn't US/Mexico as proven by the protests going on recently, but I would have thrown out India/Pakistan, the Great Wall of China, or Israel/Palestine. Most heavily fortified comes across as a bit of an opinion. That could imply biggest walls, most guns, most secure check points, etc. There's a lot that goes along with most heavily fortified border.

With the Tonight Show street people, that's all staged. I knew a person who was 'interviewed' and asked specifically to say something obviously wrong about the US Government.

Quote:
Is it a problem of our educational system, or simply the degree to which we, as Americans, are truly so isolated in our own little worlds that we don't care where the rest of the world (or even the rest of the country) is, in relation to us?
I'd say it's a mix of our educational system in some areas, and just generally how we're raised. I wouldn't say that it's that we don't care about the rest of the world, we're just pre-occupied with what goes on here. The news here, local or country wide, tends to take precendence for a lot of people. When I see an earth quake in Pakistan it's just a blip on my radar that I skim over. It's not really because I'm 'stuck in my own little world' it's just not something important at that moment.

Quote:
And how could we possibly start to change these ethnocentric attitudes?
I don't think that our ethnocentric tendencies need to change. I think in the majority of America we're pretty well rounded culturally. People may find that hard to swallow, but I think most people are pretty well integrated with other cultures - Italian, Chinese, Korean, Indian, Middle Eastern, etc. I have friends from all colors and creeds and I suspect most other people do, too.
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Old 05-02-2006, 11:19 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Six in 10 did not know the border between North and South Korea is the most heavily fortified in the world.
Who says television doesn't teach you anything...

There was a West Wing episode about the Poet Laureate and the episode dealt with landmines and the US's refusal to ratify the landmind treaty because of the north/south korea border...
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Old 05-02-2006, 11:27 AM   #9 (permalink)
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There was a game/test online that provide an outline of America and had the user place the states. I didn't do too well on the test, as the midwestern states threw me a bit.

I know where the "important" states to me are. I know where states I've been to are. I'm very familiar with the East coast as I've been up and down it, but the mid-west states are not as clear to me. Does that matter?

Realistically, I don't think being able to point to Nebraskas exact location is that important. If I ever plan to go there or need information regarding it, then I will seek it out. Otherwise, I'm content just knowing it is out west.

To me, geography is a specialized type of knowledge that people may or may not have, depending on their studies and focus of interest. I couldn't point to Uzbekistan on a map, and at this point I consider such information to be worthless to me. Instead I focus my intellect and studies elsewhere, in areas that do interest me.

I'm of the mindset that people will pursue what interests them, outside of a controlled environment. If geography isn't one of those interests, then so be it. There may be people out there that have an incredible understanding of geography, but are unable to state what an appositive phrase is. It just depends where one focuses their interest and studies.
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Old 05-02-2006, 11:32 AM   #10 (permalink)
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There's an old blonde joke...
The blonde was bragging to her friends that she knew all the state capitols.. go ahead ask her anything... Her friend asks, what's the capitol of Minnesota? She things for a second... and says "M"...

Putting on my Ugly American hat for a moment...
Other than for Jeopardy, and other trivia games that make use of this knowledge in my head... Unless you are a resident of New Jersey, why is it important to know that the capital is Trenton?

I woudl agree being informed of world events is important... being informed of local events is equally important... but isn't know that Georgia has more square footage than Florida has, just trivia? Does that knowledge actually serve a useful purpose?
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Old 05-02-2006, 11:34 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by abaya
Is it a problem of our educational system, or simply the degree to which we, as Americans, are truly so isolated in our own little worlds that we don't care where the rest of the world (or even the rest of the country) is, in relation to us?
Part of the reason I think is the American mentality that we are the only Superpower and everyone should bow down to us. Most donít take the initiative to find out about other things in the world, I am somewhat guilty myself. I belong to another forum. Where there are a few UK and Australian members. Of course I know where those are located on a map, but these members know all about American politics as well as there own. I know a few members in each of those governments and I know a little about how the country operates, but compare what they know about America to what I know about their country. I feel like an idiot sometimes.

Is the problem the students? Is it the lesson plan? Is it the Teachers? I donít know, but I feel that the whole public education system is going down the crapper. I worry about the future generations. Are they going to be suitable for what lies ahead?
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Old 05-02-2006, 11:40 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Quote:
I know a few members in each of those governments and I know a little about how the country operates, but compare what they know about America to what I know about their country. I feel like an idiot sometimes.
If it weren't for schoolhouse rock I wouldn't know how a bill became a law, the preamble to the constitution, or about the declaration of independence... To a kid in school that's pretty dry stuff... to have to learn about another country's versions of those things.. would be even dryer...

Is Edu-tainment the way that kids learn? more than 20 years later, I can still sing the preamble.. I've not forgotten that schoolhouse rock... maybe schoolhouse rock needs to have a version for each country... I'd watch..
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Old 05-02-2006, 11:43 AM   #13 (permalink)
 
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Thank you for being honest, Gatorade. I learned a lot from your post. There's a lot I could say in return, but my point is not to argue (too much) but rather to understand why people don't know more about where their tax dollars are going and where their countrymen are dying. Your answer helps me.

In any case, just a few responses to your quotes:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorade Frost
I had to do a double take on that one before I realised native language, which I suppose would probably be Chinese. I can see how that's a reasonable mistake to make.
Just a note to clarify: English doesn't even make the top 10 for number of speakers of native languages...
Quote:
The Summer Institute for Linguistics (SIL) Ethnologue Survey (1999) lists the following as the top languages by population:
(number of native speakers in parentheses)

1. Chinese* (937,132,000)
2. Spanish (332,000,000)
3. English (322,000,000)
4. Bengali (189,000,000)
5. Hindi/Urdu (182,000,000)
6. Arabic* (174,950,000)
7. Portuguese (170,000,000)
8. Russian (170,000,000)
9. Japanese (125,000,000)
10. German (98,000,000)
11. French* (79,572,000)

* The totals given for Chinese, Arabic, and French include more than one SIL variety.
Certainly, there are LOTS of countries that have English as their second official language, which is how/why it is so influential. I find it admirable that other countries have more than one language as an official one. How long will it take to add another language to our "official" list, I wonder? And how many people would freak out if that happened to be Spanish?

Quote:
With the Tonight Show street people, that's all staged. I knew a person who was 'interviewed' and asked specifically to say something obviously wrong about the US Government.
Good to know; I only watch TV in hotels, so I don't know much about what goes on there. However, my story about my best friend, a teacher, was not staged by any means. She thought Appalachia was a made-up country.

Quote:
I have friends from all colors and creeds and I suspect most other people do, too.
Well, that's good... I really don't think most Americans have "integrated" social groups (especially in terms of black/white residential segregation), so cheers to you. But I'm curious, do you have friends from all classes as well as cultures? I have a feeling that most middle-class Americans don't associate much with lower-class people of color... which means that most of our country is not "well rounded" at all. We don't even know how to locate where 1,000 (mostly black) people died last fall... even after it was broadcast and written up in the news for weeks and months afterwards. I find that reprehensible.

And if 70,000 people died in an earthquake in Louisiana, would it still be a "blip" on the map, like Katrina apparently was? Hmph.
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Old 05-02-2006, 11:47 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Can you explain this:
Quote:
Just a note to clarify: English doesn't even make the top 10 for number of speakers of native languages...
Quote:
Quote:
The Summer Institute for Linguistics (SIL) Ethnologue Survey (1999) lists the following as the top languages by population:
(number of native speakers in parentheses)

1. Chinese* (937,132,000)
2. Spanish (332,000,000)
3. English (322,000,000)
It appears to be 3 on the list...
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Old 05-02-2006, 11:53 AM   #15 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maleficent
but isn't know that Georgia has more square footage than Florida has, just trivia? Does that knowledge actually serve a useful purpose?
To answer both you and Jimellow... I agree that some of geography has to do with sheer trivia, including your example.

However, my concern is with not knowing the places where MAJOR events have gone down, events that affect us and our economy, our livelihood, on a daily basis; events that have, in effect, dictated history. Events and places that just about everyone else in the world with any kind of education knows about (as Apmle said), far more than we do. I wonder how our international reputation would change if more Americans actually knew where and what was going on in the world, to the point where it actually broke through the little cocoons we build around ourselves and made us care about other countries and their people.

ISRAEL. IRAQ. LOUISIANA. Those stand out to me from that survey. As Americans, how could anyone NOT know where those places are? It is just beyond my comprehension.
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Old 05-02-2006, 11:56 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by abaya
Just a note to clarify: English doesn't even make the top 10 for number of speakers of native languages...
Huh? It's the 3rd one on the list right below Chinese and Spanish. I'm confused.

Quote:
But I'm curious, do you have friends from all classes as well as cultures? I have a feeling that most middle-class Americans don't associate much with lower-class people of color... which means that most of our country is not "well rounded" at all.
In regards to class, no, I don't have too wide of a friendship base for lower class, or upper class for that matter. It's not because I look down on them, but the interests that I'd share with a lower class person would be wildly different. If they were into video games and roleplaying and the like I wouldn't even notice the distinction between classes. It's just a matter of interest and personality, really.

Quote:
We don't even know how to locate where 1,000 people died last fall... even after it was broadcast and written up in the news for weeks and months afterwards. I find that reprehensible.
I think most people could tell you it was Louisiana. Being able to pin point the state doesn't seem that important so long as you know what happened there.

Quote:
And if 70,000 people died in an earthquake in Louisiana, would it still be a "blip" on the map, like Katrina apparently was? Hmph.
Katrina wasn't a 'blip' on my map. I'm in Texas and we've had students from all over LA coming to school here at A&M. I helped house people in our basketball arena. What happened in LA was a lot more influential and important to me than what happened in Pakistan because it happened right next door and I was directly effected by it. If it happened in California I would pay attention, but it would affect me like it would to people in Nevada and Oregon. I don't think that's particularly a negative, it's just natural that the more distant it is the less important it is to me personally. That's not to say that it's not important, but while that's happening 2000 miles away, life still goes on where I am and there's still things to be done.
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Old 05-02-2006, 11:56 AM   #17 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maleficent
It appears to be 3 on the list...
You're right Mal, I admit my mistake. I was looking at a page with about ten tables and picked that one, and I'm sure I mistook it for a totally different one when I made that comment. I apologize.
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Old 05-02-2006, 12:01 PM   #18 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorade Frost
I think most people could tell you it was Louisiana. Being able to pin point the state doesn't seem that important so long as you know what happened there. -snip- That's not to say that it's not important, but while that's happening 2000 miles away, life still goes on where I am and there's still things to be done.
Maybe this is part of the answer I am looking for... thank you again, Gatorade, for your honesty.

If you do know where a place is, and you know it's far away, I want to know why that takes away from the power of the event. 70,000 people dying there is the same as 70,000 people dying here. Why does distance take away from our ability to empathize? This is a new question, I guess.

But I'm open to thinking more about Gatorade's statement: is it more important to know what happened, than to know where a place is?
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Old 05-02-2006, 12:35 PM   #19 (permalink)
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I personally believe it's more important to know what happened then where. Sure just for generality's sake it's always good to know your way around a globe, but it doesn't seem like pertinent information to always have in the back of your mind.

Why does distance take away from our ability to empathize? Would you feel the same if my grand mother died as when your grand mother died? Doubtful, but it's the same thing happening. You'd recognize that it sucks, yeah, but you wouldn't have the same feelings. You don't even know my grandmother, so the only reason you would feel sad is because that's how you're supposed to feel when some one's grandmother died, not always necessarily because you feel a deep sense of sorrow that the person whose grandmother died.

I think that same idea applies to what happens 200 miles from you and what happens 10,000 miles from you. When a place you've been takes terrible damage, and it's your family and friends that are dying or in danger, it matters more to you than to a person who's never been there, is thousands of miles from there, and doesn't know anyone there. Aside from reading the news and seeing it, you can't in all honesty expect them to have the same reaction you would have.
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Old 05-02-2006, 12:48 PM   #20 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorade Frost
When a place you've been takes terrible damage, and it's your family and friends that are dying or in danger, it matters more to you than to a person who's never been there, is thousands of miles from there, and doesn't know anyone there. Aside from reading the news and seeing it, you can't in all honesty expect them to have the same reaction you would have.
You make some good points here. I guess I'm (obviously) a raging idealist and I'd like to believe that human beings could all care about each other, no matter how far away they are. And I wish that distance, whether it's geographical or social, didn't matter. But you're right, I'm being impractical.

I don't know, I just wrote an e-mail last night to a professor whom I barely know, have spoken with far less than I've even spoken with you... because I found out his mother was dying, and I felt awful for him. My grandmother died last fall and every time I hear about anyone losing a relative, it hurts again. I don't really know the guy... but it opened up a conversation between us. It felt... human.

And I'm starting to think maybe I'm just a weird case in general, because I feel quite close to people living in a handful different countries. My parents: Thai and Icelandic; me: American, lived on both coasts, also spent time in Zambia; boyfriend: Lebanese with family in France. My loved ones are spread out around the world.... so I guess everything that happens is close to at least someone I know!
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Old 05-02-2006, 12:52 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Well, I think everyone's an idealist at heart, some people stick with it and some people (like me) become cynics.

I suspect most people like that idea of the perfect world and hope for the best, but sometimes you have to put that away for realism, which may not necessarily fit your dreams, but sometimes you just gotta go with what's most likely going to happen.
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Old 05-02-2006, 01:07 PM   #22 (permalink)
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The lack of geographic knowledge is not a function of being egocentric or a superpower or an American. I dare say lots of people in Europe and Asia couldn't find Louisiana or San Marino or Kansas or Moldova or Estonia or Ulaan Bataar or Bhutan or the town of Uncertain, Texas, on a world map. Many people from various countries have little or no knowledge of biology, political science, information sciences, and animal husbandry. However they may have substantial knowledge about subjects that I would find of little use and not interesting in the least. They may have knowledge that is exceedingly important to them in their world.

I taught World Geography in public high schools for 13 years. In my classroom students had the opportunity to explore many aspects of almost every country. But like a language learned over a semester in a classroom, geographic knowledge will fade quickly if not used. I suspect (and this poll seems to bear it out) most young people are more interested in video games and reality television than events in Israel. On the other hand I bet most every person polled has some specialty knowledge that few others possess.

I happen to be interested in the social sciences and current affairs so I can probably find Kathmandu and Novaya Zemlya on a map. But don't ask me to butcher a calf or raise a crop of peanuts.
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Old 05-02-2006, 01:37 PM   #23 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aladdin Sane
I happen to be interested in the social sciences and current affairs so I can probably find Kathmandu and Novaya Zemlya on a map. But don't ask me to butcher a calf or raise a crop of peanuts.
Well, I don't disagree with you there... local knowledge is a whole different animal that specific, geographic knowledge, especially when you depend on local knowledge for your survival. Plus, many of the people you mention don't have the privilege of a free, public education anyway... so I wouldn't expect them to have that kind of knowledge, or interest in that knowledge. It's just that most Americans *have* access to that kind of thing... and we still don't know.

It's good to hear your perspective as a former geography teacher. I think you're right, that any type of knowledge will fade without use... but why is it that most educated Americans don't "use" geographic knowledge very often, when we are exposed to so much international news on a daily basis? Is it because, like Gatorade said, we have access to the Internet... and that can supply us with any map knowledge we might need? Or is it really just totally irrelevant to our lives? And if so, why isn't it as irrelevant to educated people living in other countries?

By the way, if you feel your students tended to forget geography easily... what was something you hope they never forgot, from your classes? I'm curious, since as an English and History teacher, I knew my students would forgot most of what they learned... but I always had certain lifelong-learning goals in mind. I hope they never forgot some of those essential things.
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Old 05-02-2006, 02:04 PM   #24 (permalink)
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Brush up on your geography the way we did back when *good* cartoons were on the air - Yakko's Countries of the World:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5OBYaZlglNk

And the capitols of the states, by Wakko!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ebbm4hSFBc

The animaniacs and their companion series, pinky and the brain, come out this july! I'm excited, at least.
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Old 05-02-2006, 03:39 PM   #25 (permalink)
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It sounds like people need to get this program:
http://earth.google.com/

And then check out this website for an overview of the country:
http://cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/index.html

Latin America, Eastern Europe and Africa would be the only countries that I would have a hard time placing. But, I would know their general location. And I have been to 35 of the states in the us, and could easily place all of them correctly.

Is everyone like Paris Hilton and Jessica Simpson in the 'real world'?
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Old 05-02-2006, 04:25 PM   #26 (permalink)
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You could always be like us - amalgamate a few states until you get to a decent (easily memorable) number. Australia and continental USA have similar land mass. We have 6 states and 2 territories. I can point them out on a map and tell you the capital cities of each.

So, which states should we abolish?


On a more serious note - I suck at geography. It doesn't really interest me, unless I'm going there. I'd seriously flunk the quiz above, unless it related to the 5 US states I've actually visited
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Old 05-02-2006, 04:37 PM   #27 (permalink)
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Most people have poor knowledge of geography because it isn't a skill that is necessary for their day to day lives. Relatively few people take time out of their lives to read up on world affairs outside of those covered on their local news. Of those who do keep up with world events, even fewer would take the time to pull out a map and find the location of the countries they are reading about. This leaves the vast majority of the population to rely on their vague memories of high school social studies classes, which they may or may not have slept through.

People have limited time and tend to concern themselves with only things that have a direct impact on their lives. If we can barely get half the country to take time to vote for their President we can't very well expect them to take time to study up on the location of countries tens of thousands of miles away. It's unfortunate, but not surprising.
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Old 05-02-2006, 04:43 PM   #28 (permalink)
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I had to learn all the countries of the world and their capitols when I was in 9th grade, and I got 100% on the test. I'd maybe get 40% today...if I was having a great day of luck. When I was in 9th grade, the USSR was in the process of breaking up, and the only other countries besides Russia I had to learn were Latvia, Lithuania, and Belarus. There was no Turkmenistan, or Azerbijan, or Uzbekistan then...and I guarandamntee you I couldn't find them on a map today. It is a knowledge that you lose if you don't use it...and I've never really needed to use in since then. I know where a lot of countries are, and could tell you at least what continent they are on, but I may not know their exact placement anymore. And to be quite honest...I don't feel bad about that.
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Old 05-02-2006, 04:46 PM   #29 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maleficent
A story I have never forgotten, that is so absurd that it should be an urban legend, but it's not... When the Olympics were being held in Atlanta... a resident of the US State of New Mexico had called the ticket line to get tickets, and he was told that he had to call his nation's olympic committee..

I worked for a few years at an Albuquerque TV station. The state has it's own magazine, imaginitively titled "New Mexico Magazine." In the back they always have a section where people write in with experiences like that.

When I'd vacation elsewhere and tell people I was from New Mexico I'd often get asked if I had my green card yet, if it was hard getting through border patrol, etc. It's amazing how few people know that it's a state
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Old 05-02-2006, 04:52 PM   #30 (permalink)
 
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It's interesting how many of you say that these things don't really enter into your daily consciousness. Again, maybe because my family is spread out across the world, geography is dearly important to me... it can make or break relationships...

When my mom met my boyfriend, all she knew was that he was "Middle Eastern," since she had no idea where Lebanon was. She assumed he was from the same place as bin Laden, since "they're all the same anyway..." all those countries get lumped together geographically, so why not culturally in her mind, too?

So she asked him, point blank, not to be funny but because she really wanted to know... if he knew where bin Laden was hiding, in the mountains of "his (my bf's) country." I am not joking. I credit my boyfriend for being such a contained person and not saying what was on his mind... but it was still very offensive that she didn't even bother to look up his country on a map, at least. Later on she said he was from Pakistan.

Now, my Icelandic and Thai relatives... that's another story altogether.

In any case, my point throughout this piece is not that we should know each and every name of every place in the world... but that we should at least know the places that are significant to us as a country, as we make decisions that impact the daily live of millions of *other* people.

Again, the big three I am most shocked by: Israel. Iraq. Louisiana. Do those places not affect us on a daily basis?
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Old 05-02-2006, 05:32 PM   #31 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maleficent
If it weren't for schoolhouse rock I wouldn't know how a bill became a law, the preamble to the constitution, or about the declaration of independence... To a kid in school that's pretty dry stuff... to have to learn about another country's versions of those things.. would be even dryer...
I'll tell you what, Mal; I was whistling the Preamble on the way out of work today. I am thinking I may just pop that into the DVD and try and teach it to my kids in a few minutes if they let me. (And I still count by threes - 369, 12 15 18, 21 24 27, 30, and that damn hide and seek song runs through my head if I have to count by fives.)
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Old 05-02-2006, 05:48 PM   #32 (permalink)
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I read their little online quiz. One of the questions asked which of 4 states were larger. They did not specify that they were going to include all the water around Michigan as part of it's square miles. In apperance Michigan is not as large as they said. It seems that their questions might not have been as clear as they should have been or might have even been biased.

Besides that, I do place some blame on our education system. I've seen too many students (at least in our local schools) who have been pushed on to the next grade even though they did not know what they needed to know. They end up falling through the cracks and learning less and less as the years go by. Then they get graduated just because it looks bad to not have everyone graduate and it might hurt their fragile self-esteem.
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Old 05-02-2006, 06:03 PM   #33 (permalink)
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I got everything on that quiz except for Angola. Stupid Angola.
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Old 05-02-2006, 06:39 PM   #34 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aladdin Sane
I taught World Geography in public high schools for 13 years. In my classroom students had the opportunity to explore many aspects of almost every country. But like a language learned over a semester in a classroom, geographic knowledge will fade quickly if not used. I suspect (and this poll seems to bear it out) most young people are more interested in video games and reality television than events in Israel. On the other hand I bet most every person polled has some specialty knowledge that few others possess.
I agree that many details of geography may be forgotten over the years. However one would expect people to know the basic things like Mexico is on our southern border and Canada is to the north etc.. and the general location of major countries and states. The lack of knowledge in this and other surveys is surprising for educated people.
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Old 05-03-2006, 02:15 AM   #35 (permalink)
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>>>Outside of Georgians - who knew that georgia had more landmass than Florida...>>>

Yep, I agree. I played with geography puzzles when I was a kid. Florida is larger than Georgia. That trick question was the only one I missed on the quiz. Of course, most west coast students would miss that question. And 3 questions were based in the east usa and only one in the west, so unless one is well traveled, then that quiz is kinda hard. But some of the quiz just tests current events and not geography as much. Like we did latitude and longitude in geography and lots of guiness records of tallest or smallest things in the world. Thankfully I studied my usa and world capitals hard and got 99 on both tests. But lots of countries have changed since I was a kid. (^:

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Old 05-03-2006, 02:28 AM   #36 (permalink)
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>>>Again, the big three I am most shocked by: Israel. Iraq. Louisiana. Do those places not affect us on a daily basis?>>>

Sadly I have Isreal burn out. About two years ago, I was listening to NPR and I just couldn't take how often they cover Isreal everyday it seemed. It was a blur of over-coverage. Two months ago I met two people who actually grew up in Isreal so now the country feels real to me. But I honestly turn the channel when Isreal is on the radio from that past burn out. I avidly follow Iraq and Louisianna news however.... *sigh* A few years back I met someone who went on a religious mission to Mongolia. I asked them how Ulaanbaatar was doing and he jumped out of his chair praising me too much as he was Canadian and thought all Americans were stupid in geography. He told me about communism and yurts I think. I told him that when I was in school I learned that it was Outer Mongolia and the capital was two words. Ulan Batar or something close to that. His eyes bugged out. For some unknown reason that city and country stuck out in my mind. If he had quized me about Canada, I would have been sweating on some of those capitals. Oh well.... (^:

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Old 05-03-2006, 02:32 AM   #37 (permalink)
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>>>Tonight Show. Jay Leno was interviewing people on the street>>>

I am convinced that 90% of that segment is faked. Those people just want to be on tv and will pretend not to know stuff. Tonight on Leno they had three people in the studio competing to be most dumb to win something probably and it looked fake most of the time.

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Old 05-03-2006, 05:50 AM   #38 (permalink)
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I find that kind of ironic somehow you know. How much to Americans actually pay attention to the news instead of be engolfed in it's sensationalism. I found when I moved to the US 9 months ago that the average American I dealt with was ignorant of the outside world while still having strong opinions about it. That's just the way it was and I thought it was interesting but certainly not condemming. I find American patriotizm to be compelling and charming.

The old saying that "war teaches geography" seems to be no longer a truth I guess. People complain openly about Iraq all the time and so many don't know where it is on a map? Or Isreal? I find that to be interesting. Not being able to find Louisiana... that's pretty interesting to me considering how huge that was last year.

As for like languages... it's a general knowledge stat but if someone asked me I would certainly have said Chinese no1 and from there I would have been guessing, and probably put English number 5 or 6 as native languages.

I can understand not knowing North vs South Korea is the most fortified boarder, but saying US Mexico was instead seems like wild guessing. People guess in these surveys a lot I suppose.

Maybe people should be playing trival persuit more
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Old 05-03-2006, 05:54 AM   #39 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by opus123
>>>Tonight Show. Jay Leno was interviewing people on the street>>>

I am convinced that 90% of that segment is faked. Those people just want to be on tv and will pretend not to know stuff. Tonight on Leno they had three people in the studio competing to be most dumb to win something probably and it looked fake most of the time.
There used to be a game show - not sure if it's still on - called Street Smarts - and they would do "man on the street" type interviews and the game show contestant would guess whether or not the "man" was right or not in their answer... The "man on the street" were usually as dumb as a box of rocks.. And I don't think they looked too hard to find them
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Old 05-03-2006, 05:56 AM   #40 (permalink)
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How 'bout everyone put their money where their mouth is an see how we do. Here is a Geography test. I got all of the states right and did well in Canada, but terrible in Africa and worst than I thought I would do in Europe.

http://www.lizardpoint.com/fun/geoquiz/index.html
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