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Monday, October 31, 2005

How well do Americans Know the World? And Where is Lynchburg Virginia?

In 2003, a disturbing report came out, Americans just didn't know geography. This was not a surprise to me, countless times before reports have come out about how Americans couldn't locate places on the map. They may know that Italy looked like a boot, and yes South America was south of the United States.

From the 2003 report from the Heartland Institute, comes one distressing conclusion:

"The Americans, who were surveyed for National Geographic by RoperASW, weren’t much better at world geography. Only 24 percent were able to locate Saudi Arabia, only 17 percent were able to locate Afghanistan, and just 13 percent could locate Iraq or Iran."

The problem was because, geography has not stressed in our schools. And what was offered was a bland digest of capitals, populations, and sporadic information of gross national product, and just a glimmer of the history of the country studied. This did not stick in the brains, and soon almost many thought of this as a compendium of useless knowledge, that was needed to get through school.

The world is getting smaller not in size, but in relationships. It is not unusual for me to have a personal conversation with someone from India, China, or even Kenya. And through all these contacts that people are making across the internet, geography becomes more intimate. We learn with a personal understanding about the lives of others. The various messengers from AOL,MSN, and Yahoo have helped people to even go right into the rooms of people around the world. You can use voice, and you can use cams.

Then, software makers helped fill the gap, one notable one was "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego." A game that many of us played, and in the playing learned much about the world.

There is an new game now called Brewster and Jennings Protects America, that uses the Google map interface, and your assigment is to protect America against terrorists.

Two notable programs that I use now, are NASA World Wind, and Google Earth. Each day you can see the News using Google Earth, to help you pin down, where in the world an event is happening. If you haven't seen NASA's World Wind take a look, the program is utterly fantastic and it is free.

Today, I would venture to say, Americans are becoming very savvy about geography. Our past weaknesses is now becoming a strength. We are being infused with geography, and places and people are beginning to stick in our brains.



And some of you that find yourself at Lynchburg, Virginia blog who might be curious where we are here is our location, thanks for visiting friend. And if you leave a comment to this post with your location we will come and visit you.

4 Comments:

At 7:12 AM, Blogger Melissa O. Markham said...

Bob,

This is a great post! I have been appalled at people in America's lack of knowledge of Geography. I have been in California and people there sometimes don't know where Virginia is! I have friends in Europe who have a very poor opinion of American's geography skills.

Having said that, geography has not been my strong suit, I am good with the U.S., good with Europe, but not so great with Africa or South America. Yet with all of the new software and games, I am learning with my children about this shrinking world.

Thanks again for a great post!

 
At 7:19 AM, Blogger B O B said...

Thank you mom, the more we learn about our world, the more we will be respected around the globe.

 
At 9:34 PM, Blogger Diva said...

This is a very accurate post and something we all should think about. Not only do Americans do a poor job of world geography, but we don't seem very bright when it comes to our own country either. When I last got my hair cut, it was right after Rita came ashore. My hairdresser made a comment about how "close" it was to Richmond (keep in mind, it came ashore in Western Louisiana, and we'd had a mild rain shower the evening before). I was speechless.

 
At 9:48 PM, Blogger B O B said...

Thanks for the comment Diva, it is disturbing to me, when people from other countries know more about our geography, than many from the United States. I have seen people from Indonesia tell someone in California where Memphis Tenn. is.

I am hoping that people will explore some of the links here so they can learn more of the world around them. Not only are some of these links fun, you are likely to learn something.

And for anyone reading this post Richmond the capital of Virginia is just about a two hour drive from Lynchburg. Thanks again Diva.

 

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