Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Geographic Literacy

National Geographic does it’s survey of geographic literacy, and again people in the USA between the ages of 18 and 24 have a very limited sense of their place in the world (literally).

There is some good, like the ability of most tested to use a map and navigate well, but knowing countries of the world and their context in current events leaves a lot to be desired.

      Six in ten (63%) cannot find Iraq on a map of
      the Middle East, despite near-constant news coverage since the U.S. invasion of March 2003.
      Three-quarters cannot find Indonesia on a map . even after images of the tsunami and the
      damage it caused to this region of the world played prominently across televisions screens and in
      the pages of print media over many months in 2005. Three-quarters (75%) of young men and
      women do not know that a majority of Indonesia’s population is Muslim (making it the largest
      Muslim country in the world), despite the prominence of this religion in global news today.
      Majorities overestimate the total size of the U.S. population and fail to understand how much
      larger the population of China is. Three-quarters (74%) believe English is the most commonly
      spoken native language in the world, rather than Mandarin Chinese. Although 73% know the
      U.S. is the world’s largest consumer of oil, nearly as many (71%) do not know the U.S. is the
      World’s largest exporter of goods and services . half think it’s China.
      Such lack of geographic literacy shows up closer to home, as well. Half or fewer of young men
      and women 18-24 can identify the states of New York or Ohio on a map (50% and 43%,
      respectively).

There’s hope, though, because the report notes that young people have the most powerful learning tool the world has ever created in the internet, and use of internet was associated with young American’s performance in the quiz.

I’m going to take the quiz and I’ll tell you how I do.

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