Here's something I just read in my "Reference.com On This Day" daily e-mail:
"In the last National Geographic Literacy Survey, about 11 percent of 18-to-24-year-old citizens of the U.S. could not even locate the U.S. on a map. The Pacific Ocean's location was a mystery to 29 percent; Japan, to 58 percent; France, to 65 percent; and the United Kingdom, to 69 percent. More young U.S. citizens in the study knew that the island featured in the TV show "Survivor" wsa in the South Pacific than could find Israel. Each year thousands of schools in the U.S. participate in the National Geographic Bee using materials prepared by the National Geographic Society. The contest is designed to encourage teachers to include geography in their classrooms, spark student interest in the subject, and increase public awareness about geography."
I think the contest also served to increase public awareness about the state of a lot of American schools.
not to toot my own horn, but i remember taking a test my sophmore year of college at an american university with a bunch of other students who were supposed to be international politics majors. we had a map test where we had thirty minutes to write the names of each country on a blank map. the highest grade (me) was an 84. Sad.
When I used to teach high school (way back in the day), I had at least one student who thought Mexico was north and Canada was south...despite living in Southern California.
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