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Geography's dumb, anyways

BY CHRIS STEINKE | JULY 22, 2011 7:20 AM

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The geography portion of the Nation's Report Card was released Tuesday.

Guess what it said? Americans, like everywhere such as, suck at geology — geography? — Whatever.

Let me get this straight, liberal media: You're saying that citizens of the only country that anything substantial ever happens in doesn't give two damns about the rest of the world?

Hold the freaking presses.

We're so sorry, the-rest-of-the-world. Please forgive us, and let us know when you drop a movie half as badass as Transformers 3. We'll put a little sticker on a map somewhere.

But it's not just the inability to point at maps and name capitals that people seem to be up in arms about; it's also students' ignorance of how little itty-bitty things such as climate and access to natural resources can shape the demographics of a region's population. Only 21 percent of 12th graders had at least a solid grasp of why, for example, a developing country would have less access to agricultural products and raw materials.

I'm guessing that, in a multiple-choice format, "Because they are a fundamentally stupider people" seemed to be too obvious of an answer. In this specific case, I would place at least some of the blame on the tricksters over at the National Assessment of Education Progress, or whoever's responsible for such misleading questions.

My question is: What's the big deal? Who cares that only 50 percent of fourth-graders can correctly rank LA, California, the United States, and North America in order of size? I don't know about any of you readers, but when I was in fourth grade, I was too busy mackin' on girls and makin' bank tradin' Pokémon cards to care about the foundation of my spatial relationship with anything of any significance.

Wait. Fourth-graders were the only age group out of three to show signs of improvement. All right, 50 percent. In your face, Canadia.

It was the eighth- and 12th-graders' scores that declined since the last review period, which comes as a surprise to those who point out the students' handy access to smart phones, and thus, anything they could ever need to know in electronic form, right at their fingertips.

Listen: to those who point out the logical disconnect between Generation Y, their relentless access to a portal of infinite knowledge, and their obsessive ignorance of the world around them, I challenge you to play just one game of Fruit Ninja. One game.

I bet you'll lose interest in the capital of Vuvuzela real fast.

Some might say, "Why do you feel so geographically high and mighty? You have no reason to be an exceptionalist; you live in Iowa." Believe me, people. I'm not able to locate Iowa on a blank map through personal choice. Have you read Iowa's local headlines? This — this — is what the Internet is for, so people like us can stay current with the important parts of America, like Los Angeles, where Rebecca Black has recently recorded a new music video.

As an American, I can live with our children's narrowing view of the rest of the world, because No Child is being Left Behind. By conveniently tying federal funding to standardized math and reading tests, teachers are given the incentive they need to forget about bothersome geography lessons, nerdy lab exercises, and fruity arts programs.

At this point in American history, geography is a useless subject. Global interconnection? Pfft. What happens in Japan is Japan's problem. Natural resources and foreign policy? Please, we have all the resources we need. That's why we can focus on killing terrorists. Global awareness for our country's future leaders? Uh, Sarah Palin's still pretty young, and she doesn't need any geography lessons to keep an eye on the Soviet Union. Connecting cultures through general knowledge and social insight?

No, thanks. Our culture is doing just fine.


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