“Geography Has Dave in a Very Sorry State”

This classic Dave Barry column takes a very tongue-in-cheek look at Americans’ lack of geographic knowledge:

“Most Americans are pitifully ignorant of geography. This was clearly demonstrated recently when the Gallup Organization sent its pollsters to Chicago to ask randomly selected residents if they could name at least three of the six major continents. The results were shocking: Most of the pollsters never found Chicago at all; of those who did, all but one fell into the Chicago River.”

Read his column and tell us what you think.

4 responses to ““Geography Has Dave in a Very Sorry State”

  1. I am a student from Singapore. It’s really a pity that American students are lacking in their geographical knowledege. But what I want to point out is, this phenomenon is simply not myopically restricted to the land mass of America, but is quite evident in other regions around the world. The real problem is not in the case of geographical illiteracy, but is to allow students to see what geography entails and how geography is practicable and as pragmatic as biology and economics. Of course, it will only be extremely foolish to measure such a great subject in monetary or any other utilitarian terms. In Singapore, students may faithfully and diligently memorise a whole chunk of information on plate tectonics and MNCS, but that’s usually only what the school offers the students. It ends there, without any further effort to promote the real understanding of the subject. How can life-long geographical literacy be any way possible, if teaching and learning geography is so laborious and its only ostensible aim is to squeeze information into the brain and perfrom verbal diarrhoea during the exams? There should be an educational revolution around the world to do justice to geography. It should be a global problem, a problem that is vital towards sustainable growth of all nations.

  2. You want me to tell you what i think – geography is boring, and where in the heck is singapore?

  3. Perhaps one man’s meat is another man’s poison. By the way, Singapore is a small country located in Southeast Asia, just at the tip of penisular Malaysia and near the island of Sumatra, Indonesia. This geographically small nation has a very developed market-based economy, and is a developed country. She is the fourth largest foreign exchange trading centre in the world after London, New York City and Tokyo. (MAS Annual Report 2005/2006)

  4. Frankly speaking, I do not blame people living at the other side of the globe to really know how to locate Singapore because the world is simply too complicated to really know all the places in this geoid planet. My geographical knowledge clearly consists more of that about the region around Singapore: Southeast Asia and the rest of Asia. Similarly, I do not expect myself to spit out all the names of the fifty states of USA so fluently; neither do I expect myself to know all the mountain ranges and currents in the world. However, this is not to say that geographical knowledge beyond the “comfort zone” is not important. It is evident that countries are interdependent, especially for small countries like Singapore which is susceptible to fluctuations in the global theatre. Even big countries like China and USA are experiencing geographical problems -whether domestic or international; whether demographic or environmental – that affects the equilibrium of the whole global theatre. It is essential for us to know what is going on in the world and recognise the interrelationship between countries. Yeah, I know that this kind of information is seemingly for nerds, but please do understand that it affects every part of your life. I shall thus end off this comment with a message: One thing in this world that never changes is Change.

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