I had a good laugh this morning when I saw that World Hum had created a category on their weblog entitled “Hot Americans on Television Botching Geography Questions”, thanks to Miss South Carolina and more recently American Idol Kellie Pickler. She appeared on US television game show “Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader” and was asked what country Budapest was the capital of. She had never even heard of Hungary, and she thought Europe was a country.
Out of amazement and sheer shock, I decided to dig around a bit to get some sort of explanation for the general level of geographic ignorance in America — the world’s most powerful, ethnically diverse and wealthy country.
I came across a report on the American Geographical Society’s website addressing this issue in the US and it all seems to boil down to the American education system that doesn’t pay much attention to geography as a subject of study.
According to the paper, the ranks of Americans who have ever taken geography class in high school or university is low; most of the people who teach geography and set the content standards haven’t studied geography at a university level and don’t understand why they are even teaching it (!) Although the paper doesn’t give more details, it is an interesting read and talks about how the American government needs to embark on a “No American Left Geographically Ignorant” campaign.
I don’t have the answer, but something definitely has to be done. Do watch the video when you get a chance.