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Geographic Illiteracy: A Continuing American Dilemma - Term Paper Example

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Name Name of Professor Geographic Illiteracy: A Continuing American Dilemma Introduction Geographic illiteracy is the lack of ability to understand and decide wisely at every level of human settlement design. …
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Geographic Illiteracy: A Continuing American Dilemma
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Download file to see previous pages According to a 1988 survey of Gallup Organization of adults’ geographic awareness in nine countries, the United States scored poorly in the 18-to-24 year old bracket. The study reported that one in four adults in the United States failed to spot the Pacific Ocean in the world map and one in seven adults failed to spot their own country. This geographic illiteracy became commonly known (Schoenfeldt 2001). As lamented by Stoltman (1992 as cited in Schoenfeldt 2001, 26), “Over 20 million Americans cannot locate the United States on a map! Geographic illiteracy is a fact of life. Our national ignorance of geography is a dangerous consequence of long-standing neglect and isolationism.”
When accounts of geographic illiteracy of Americans continued generating controversies and concerns, many began to feel troubled about the country’s capability to compete in an international economy. Educators, policymakers, and parents agreed that it was urgent to act in response to this issue. They argued that geography has to be restored to the U.S. educational institution. This paper tries to prove that Americans suffer from geographic illiteracy. This paper includes a discussion of the contributing factors to and consequences of geographic illiteracy.
Americans Suffer from Geographic Illiteracy...
1 students out of almost 500 correctly answered the question “On which range of mountains is the line of perpetual snow most elevated above the ocean—on the Rocky Mountains of North America, or on the Cordilleras of Mexico?” (Douglass 1999, 2). In another exam entry, the so-called ‘scholars’ at the time were instructed to sketch Italy’s map. According to Mann, although “many attempted [to draw] it,… of the whole number [500], only seventeen made a drawing which could have been recognized as a representation of Italy by one who did not know what the scholar was trying to do” (Douglass 1999, 2). Moving onward, over a period of nearly two centuries to the recent past, when reports akin to those of Mann continued to be expressed. It would be impossible to discuss all those reports or findings here because they have been voluminous. However, it is important to mention that, similar to all things concerning the process and system of education, these reports of American geographic illiteracy surfaced in cycles or streams. Usually, according to Fairbanks (1927), their reemergence has been linked to national pride and global occurrences and, possibly, concern over and interest in the evident unawareness of the American people of events and places outside and within the national boundaries. The 1988 report of the National Geographic Society states that large numbers of Americans are “serious lacking in basic geographic knowledge and skills [and that] this is particularly true of the youngest age group tested, those between the ages of 18 and 24” (National Middle School Association 1989, 7). In addition, according to the report 56 percent of adults in the United States were ignorant of the U.S. population or demography. In spite of the widely known value of ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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