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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » The Randoms » How many U.S. residents does it take to find themselves on a map?

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Author Topic: How many U.S. residents does it take to find themselves on a map?
Scarleteen Volunteer
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More than it should, apparently.

Some of you might have heard about a survey conducted recently that tested young adults (18-24) from seven countries (the U.S., Mexico, Canada, France, Great Britain, Italy and Sweden) on world geography. In fairness to the U.S., Canada and Great Britain scored almost as low as did the great republic to my South. Mexico, certainly the poorest country involved in the survey, came in last. Sweden did best, though none of these countries has anything to be proud of, I think.

I'm a geography nut, and a news junkie, so all of this bothers me, certainly. I'm the type of guy who felt proud, odd as it may sound, when I recently met a tourist from Maryland, who thought he could trick me when he asked what the capital of his state was. I wasn't tricked. I know it's Annapolis, not Baltimore.

Anyway, some of the results are particularly distressing. One-third of respondents from the U.S. think that they have over a billion compatriots? Of the countries that responded, only Great Britain was worse than the U.S. at locating the U.S. on a map? 28% of Britons don't know which continent has been hardest hit by AIDS? 37% of Germans don't seem to know East from West? 17% of Canadians don't know where the Pacific Ocean is?

I hope that our users aren't in the dark on most of this stuff, and that if they are, they'll get on it!

Try taking a sample test yourself:

"Frank, get back to work! And if the acid burns you, well, good!"
-Ms. Gusto, Grade 11 physical geography class

[This message has been edited by Dzuunmod (edited 11-21-2002).]

Posts: 1515 | From: Montreal, Quebec, Canada | Registered: Jun 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Gumdrop Girl
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aie, i've always found the dearth of geography-knowledge to be disturbing. i used to compete in the geography bee sponsored by the Nat'l Geographic Society. but i'll tell ya what, I was *never* taught geography in school. Social studies, yes. World civilization, yes. History, oh you bet. but we never studied stand-alone geography.

let us also lament America's collective failure to master arithmetic and reading while we're at it.

if only schools were actually good for learnin'

If the shoe fits, it's probably your size.

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Yup, my brother did that Geography Bee too. How funny that we were in the same room back in April of 1994. The day that Kurt Cobain died, as a matter of fact...

And you're right, we don't have Geography anymore. In fifth grade I had to learn all the states and their capitols, and in 8th grade we did it all again (in case we had forgotten, I suppose). But those tests and all their associated study time lasted no more than a week. Kids who weren't in the honors program missed out entirely. So I'm sad to say I'm not at all surprised at the survey. In fact, I'm surprised we're as high up as we are. Its a pretty heavy-duty disgrace, to be sure. But until we start having some formalized classes about the stuff, I'm not sure anything will improve.

BruinDan, "Number Three"

"Battery Stolen; Youth Charged"

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Scarleteen Volunteer
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[*gloating* 20 out of 20. but then, I read/watch/listen to the news.]

the results are pretty revolting. then again, I don't think that the media does a particularly fantastic job of linking news locations with where they are on the globe. in little 1-second close-up map flashes, yes, but with no perspective.

Posts: 3156 | From: Austin, Texas | Registered: Jun 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
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I only got 1 wrong. Got thrown by the word "based".

We get taught a geography course in Grade 9, and then a Canadian History course in Grade 10. We also take Geography all through elementary.
In OA History I had to learn all the US states and their Capitals.

Posts: 433 | From: Canada | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Scarleteen Volunteer
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< 20/20>

I do have to agree with lemming, the media really doesn't give much perspective at all about where things are really happening. People are perfectly capable of going out and getting that information on their own, of course, but they don't.

I had world geography in 10th grade. Awful class, I don't think I learned a thing. The teacher made it all horribly boring, and my test scores were unnaturally low. Of course, that could be due in part to the way he made his tests...we'd have this map that had all the countries numbered, and then we'd have a list of couuntry names that were also numbered (both lists started with the #1 and went on from there). Do you have any idea how confusing it is to try to keep them straight that way? Did #1 go with #5, or #5 with #1? Who knew? Bah!

Scarleteen Sexpert (and Labia Lady)

[This message has been edited by KittenGoddess (edited 11-22-2002).]

Posts: 7316 | From: USA | Registered: Oct 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
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*Hangs her head in shame*

I won't even put my score here ... It's sad, really.

But in my defense, our geography wasn't that good. We have to take gr 9 geography, but our teacher had somewhat controvertial ways of teaching ... in that he didn't really teach at all. We learned about Canada. I know where all the continents are, and on a good day, i might even be able to tell you where all the oceans go.

I didn't take any geo in OAC b/c i didn't need it for university, and had no time for interest courses. Grr ...

Posts: 7168 | From: Ontario | Registered: Sep 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
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One surprisingly good source for quick geographical information is the CIA World Fact Book. Although it can't replace several days curled up with a good atlas, it gives concise factual data on the countries of the world. I first came accross it as the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation often links to it from it's news web site.

We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.

- Albert Einstein

[This message has been edited by Bobolink (edited 11-22-2002).]

Posts: 3442 | From: Stirling, Ontario, Canada | Registered: Sep 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Executive Director & Founder
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I think, too, that a lot of people don't keep current and relearn.

When I was teaching Montessori, we taught geography with blank, colored puzzle maps, and it was fairly amazing how often we had to either adapt the answer charts or order new maps entirely because of changes to borders, country names and the like. And fairly amazing how many times we as teachers would find ourselves erring because we so rotely learned what we did so far back.

So, even if someone learned decently 10 - 20 years ago, if they don't keep up and stay informed, it doesn't really matter how good or poor their initial lessons were.

Sort of the same way we find doctors now who pass on insanely outdated sexuality or health information to their patients.

Heather Corinna
Editor and Founder, Scarleteen

My epitaph should read: "She worked herself into this ground."
-- Kay Bailey Hutchinson

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I couldn't find my results on that test you linked, Dzuun, but I think I did really good. The questions for fairly easy for me (most!) because I passed World Geography last year with an A.

But yeah, I think kids should definitely be a lot more focused on geography and where everything (such as Iraq and the Taliban) that's going on in the world is happening.

I'm not exactly thrilled to see that my country has a very low test standard, but then it's not everybody who fails like that. I think geography is a really cool thing, and I'm very fortunate that I like it so much.

"I'd rather be a fence post in Texas then the king of Tennessee!" -KKBQ

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I couldn't find my score and i didn't keep track. I got somewhere between a 16-18 out of 20 so i did ok. I had to learn every single country and capitol in 7th grade and ever since we use geography alllll the time in history classes, so i remember most of the stuff. I also read a lot of the news because it interests me and i found that useful when answering the questions.
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i was so proud of myself...20-20... i even knew the population bit. but it isn't surprising...i took 9th grade advance world history and passed with flying colors. then again i am smarter than the average bear.

what if my star is not to come? will my dreams fade to nothing? when the horizon darkens most...we all need to believe there is hope!!

Posts: 33 | From: A place where dreams end | Registered: Nov 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
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Scored about a 17 which is not too bad considering I never did world history or even world geography. Did Geog back in seconday school for 2 years but that was mostly on the Asia-Pac region. Plus I really suck at maps.

It's really interesting though how America is trying to incorporate the Singaporean teaching system into their schools while we are trying to have a more Americanised system in Singapore. Seems that while America is extremely impressed by Singapore's standings at World Mathematics Olympiads, we Singaporeans are starting to feel that our teaching system is too rigorous and too focused only on Maths and Science.

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20/20 heh...

One thing in my schooling that I feel was really beneficial was that all through elementary school (when we sat at the same desks all day long!) the teachers would glue the alphabet and our names across the top, a map of the world across the middle and some math-y stuff along the bottom. And then they stuck plastic adhesive on to keep it all down.

The good thing was, thanks to constant exposure to the world map we all got to know it very, VERY well. And most of us could tell you the capitol city's of countries around the world by 5th grade.

And another advantage was that whenever a map did need updating, the plastic was ripped up and a new one put down. Easy pie!

Posts: 419 | From: Tivoli | Registered: Jun 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
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I must say I'm proud to know I did quite well: 19/20. Although I would've had a perfect score if I had trusted my instinct on China and India being the 2 countries with more than 1 billion persons.

I must say I had a geography class in 7th grade (World Geography) and in 9th grade (Canada/Quebec Geography). I always was in the top students of my class, and I usually read or listen news, so I can't complain about my score. Although, I'm surprised on some facts, specially questions where the success rate is below 20%.

I guess many factors influence results, but some basic knowledge should be known, like a US citizen being able to identify the USA on a map.

Anyway, not really surprised to see how intelligent (or dumb for that matter) young adults can be.


- I hope I shall be able to confide in you completely, as I have never been able to do in anyone before, and I hope that you will be a great support and comfort to me.

Anne Frank to her journal

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