As millions of American children confront the first homework assignment of the new year, a recent education survey has revealed that seventy percent of American teenagers cannot locate France on a map and fifty five percent cannot locate, and identify, “the map” itself. Teachers blame the poor geographic skills of American schoolchildren on an education system that focuses on reading, math, history, and a bewildering web of school rules, classroom restrictions, and hallway regulations that make sense only when applied to certain species of social insects.
Educators also blame parents who provide children with little latitude for learning about Earth-based locations that do not have shopping malls.
Said history teacher Runwhy Cornel at Dade City, Florida’s, Pasco High School:
“The last time I pointed to a classroom map and asked students what it was for, they hedged and stammered, answers such as:
–‘I dunno—like, is it some “Lord of the Rings” thing?’
–‘I got it. It’s one of those funny psychology Rohrschak shapes’
However, the more savvy students provided better answers such as:
–‘like, it looks like, maybe, some,– primitive form of a GPS device’”
Teachers, who hope to reintroduce geography into the school curriculum, are fighting across numerous fronts, a couple backs, and even a few ups. Opposing the introduction of geography courses are:
— education administrators who claim that the Internet has collapsed the world into one spot, located within twenty yards of the principal’s office of their favorite school,
–parents who fear that their children will boot up the family computer and exchange e-mails and music with wayward teenagers in any country that they learn about in school,
—and the students themselves, who insist on using GPS devices on geography tests.
Remarkably, as the next generation’s geographic skills implode, teenagers report having close, best, and off/on and on/off friends from an extraordinary wide variety of the world’s countries and mental states.
Runwhy Cornel explained the situation to a Pasco News reporter:
“Today’s Teenagers cannot find a country on a map, but they can e-mail eight friends living across nine Asian countries, while texting a friend in Europe, while using an iPhone to order a pizza from Mexico. And if there is a “happening” clothing outlet in the capitol city of some far off, foreign speaking country, they know the store’s street address, aisle layout, and belt prices, in three languages and two computer codes.
Despite this, we must Facebook the facts. Increasingly, American teenagers cannot find foreign locations as well as the foreign locations can find American teenagers.”
Education experts agree that, increasingly, the world has beat a tracking path to the American teenager who rarely falls out of web site or phone connection with hundreds of geographic locations across the globe. Despite this, according to experts, such teenagers, often, cannot be located by school officials or their parents.
Runwhy Cornel defended his geography class “position” to his GPS device:
“To have the ability to name the capitol city of Mongolia, cluster six African countries into the correct contiguous group, and develop a passion for the shape of the world’s great rivers and mountain ranges, is critical to development a of worldwide sense of spacial belonging, place and reality. However, to America’s school children, the real world contains as much spatial sense as does a nine-level, Mario-running, video game.
I am afraid that the next generation soon will feel trapped in a spaceless real world and will end up trying to score enough points to move up to the next game level. That’s what my mother’s, and perhaps your mother’s, church group spent their time on.”
Critics complain the whole issue of increasing geographical ignorance has been blown out of proportion and is just another case of one generation’s reaction to the changing knowledge set of another generation, faced with a distinct set of needs and technology.
A Washington D.C. panhandler, who introduced himself as: “14th and L street,” summed it up to a sidewalk audience:
“People see a bunch of school kids that don’t know where France used to be and go ‘generation’ crazy.
Other people say: ‘So what. I never had to drive my car to France. And besides, these kids have got electronic gizit-mo’s to tell them where to go . I don’t see any school principal that can find his way around the website world. In fact, most of the last generation can’t even find the search key on a Google map site.”