Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Geography for Global Citizens?

In one of those articles that will just make you cringe, reports on the National Geographic-Roper Public Affairs 2006 "Geographic Literacy Study," and the results for American students aren't good.

Some high- (I mean low-) lights:
  • Fewer than three in 10 respondents 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 didn't know that the earthquake that killed 70,000 people in October 2005 occurred in Pakistan.
  • Three-quarters couldn't locate Indonesia on a map (yikes!).
According to the study's final report:

"Taken together, these results suggest that young people in the United States ... are unprepared for an increasingly global future.....Far too many lack even the most basic skills for navigating the international economy or understanding the relationships among people and places that provide critical context for world events."

This would be one of those moments when we can all breathe a collective sigh of relief that our kids -- thanks to an international education -- won't be doomed to a life of cluelessness when it comes to the world around them.

Note: Want to test your own geographical knowledge? If you go to's link, you'll see a link to CNN's "Interactive Geography Quiz." It's a hoot. And if you'd like to see how National Geographic is responding to the sad survey results, visit its new website, My Wonderful World.


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