Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Americans Need to Improve Geographic Literacy

by: Jennifer Kumar

The other day I visited the RIT campus in Rochester, N.Y. I met an African Student there. She said she was from Rwanda. I said, "Oh, you're from Africa...." As I trailed off, I was trying to place it in my mind. I knew it was landlocked (not near the seashore), but what countries bordered it? As I was thinking about that, the student commented, "Wow, you know it is in Africa! That's more than most students here know!"

Hearing that I was embarrassed for Americans. That being said on a college campus no less, is even more disheartening. And, some of these students may decide to study abroad! How can students be sufficiently prepared to study abroad if they can't even locate countries on the map or know which continent they are on?

Of course, my geography skills always need to be brushed up on. I think there are 192 countries at present. Out of those, I may be able to name less than half. I feel pretty proud that I can at least name the 50 states and, for the most part, can draw the map and plot them from my memory or at least tell which states border which states.

But, being that my literacy needs to improve in this department, as well as many Americans, the National Geographic Society is aiming to solve this problem. You can find out more about it by reading this article.

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