Saturday, April 21, 2012

Geography Educators Visit DC Today to Support TGIF

From Directions Magazine: Geography Educators Visit DC Today to Support TGIF

Apparently, a group of educators is visiting Washington DC today to encourage passage of the Teaching Geography is Fundamental Act (TGIF) to fund geographic education. How do I know?

Today, I will join educators from around the country in Washington, D.C., with one mission: urging Congress to pass the Teaching Geography is Fundamental Act to ensure that America's children are equipped to work and live in an increasingly globalized world.

That's from a Letter to the Editor from a member of the Florida Geographic Alliance in a paper in Lakeland, FL. Earlier this week there was an opinion piece by the head of the Mississippi Geography Alliance. No, no geography organization let me know. I see nothing about this effort on the national Alliance website, NCGE, AAG or anywhere... Did you?

I did find several "we don't know geography" articles this week:

Survey of 50 students reveals geographical skills can't make the grade - The Breeze (JMU)

Geographical gaffes are inevitable in a fast-changing world - India Times

And, of course, lots of Geography Bee articles...

From Breeze.JMU: Survey of 50 students reveals geographical skills can’t make the grade

How many Canadian provinces can you name?

“What the hell is a Canadian province?”

This was asked by nearly half of the 50 students randomly given a 10 question geography quiz. They were asked to identify places on a world map with national boundaries but no names.

About 74 percent of the students couldn’t list three Canadian provinces and 24 percent thought Montreal, a city, was a province. Canada is divided into 10 provinces — Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec and Saskatchewan — just like the United States is divided into 50 states.

Only 38 percent of students got a 50 percent or higher on the quiz. Three managed to get all the questions wrong, and only one student had a perfect score.

“Is it bad if I don’t know any of these?” said a sophomore engineering major.

Not only did he proceed to get all 10 questions incorrect, but when asked to list five South American countries, he included Nigeria and Uganda, both of which are in Africa.

Almost half of the students improperly placed the Arctic, which should be in the north, in the Antarctic — the south. One student thought the Arctic was in Australia.

Almost every student surveyed would mutter, “This is embarrassing” or “I should know this.”

Can you find Somalia?

“I worked with Somalian refugees over spring break, but they didn’t teach me where they were from,” said a junior communication studies major. “They were really dark, so maybe Africa?” Correct.

Though many of the students have interacted with people from other countries, they couldn’t find those countries on the map.

“My best friend is from Vietnam and I don’t know this,” a sophomore biology major said when asked to identify it.

A few were eager to take the quiz and hear the results. One student finished in a little less than a minute, missing only one question.

“I love geography quizzes,” said the sophomore engineering major. “I haven’t taken one in about 12 years.”

One student felt a little embarrassed after handing in her survey.

“They’re going to kick me out of JMU after they grade this,” said the junior religion major.

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