Friday, May 05, 2006

If Geography was Greek... Part II

Well children, it would appear that Ms Monkey's Geography class yesterday stirred a few closet geographers amongst us and also earned me a few knowing nudges. Hopefully my "geog-challenged" state would not get to the ears of my professors in charge of the NUS Geography Challenge where I am in charge of quizzing the youths of Singapore about .. well Geography.

I am sure many of you are looking forward to the continuation of yesterday's class where we will now look at the geography of the Americas. I shan't go into too much detail because in total, the continents of North and South Americas contain more than 20 countries in total (39 to be exact, yes i counted)!

But let's be realistic, most americans do not know the Geography of the United States - just watch the first episode of the reality program Beauty and the Geek. Most can't even spell Mississippi and Massachusetts!

"The study found that less than six months after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, 33 percent could not point out Louisiana on a U.S. map."
While I know how Florida look like, and maybe even Mississippi too, but I sure as hell cannot remember how Louisiana looks like on the map! Gosh, wasn't Katrina in New Orleans? *Gasp* That's actually in Louisiana? Wow. Gee, they keep talking about the Mississippi river but it's actually not in the state of Mississippi? Somebody ought to have made that clearer. Damn semiotics.

So now you know, look for Texas - the largest state in USA, the triangular piece of loin cloth at the south of USA - and you'll find Louisiana, the boot, on the right of it. Look up, you'll find Arkansas, home of Bill Clinton and then right of Louisiana is the real Mississippi state.

Now the interesting bit is, while the Americans cannot identify their own states, they seem to think rather highly of their country and their world rather revolves around their surrounding geography.
"Inside the United States, "half or fewer of young men and women 18-24 can identify the states of New York or Ohio on a map [50 percent and 43 percent, respectively]," the study said."

"Six in 10 did not know the border between North and South Korea is the most heavily fortified in the world."

"Thirty percent thought the most heavily fortified border was between the United States and Mexico."
Now ladies and gentlemen, monkeys and ducks, I'll leave you to decide for yourself, which of these borders are more heavily fortified. Besides, didn't they watch James Bonds' Die Another Day where it showed how tanks are constantly waiting to be mobilized at the drop of the hate? Maybe for once they realize that's just hollywood. Still, how far is that away from reality? Obviously North Korea did not take kindly to that portrayal.

N Korean-S Korea Border

Mexican-US Border

Of course, after laughing at other people's expense, how much do you really know about your own country's geography? Otterman posts a good quiz for all to try. Not only does it involve knowing your own country but also knowing the landmarks in Singapore!

Or perhaps you scored brilliantly on CNN's quiz that you feel ready to take on the National Geographic's Geography Literacy Quiz and see how well you do compared to these American youths. I haven't had the gut to try but after all these crash course in today's World Geography, Ms Monkey feels assured that her students would not perform too badly. At least you had a headstart and know that Sudan is not in Asia but in Africa! Oh of course I hope you do know that the tsunami in 2004 was really in Indonesia...
"Nine in ten couldn't find Afghanistan on a map of Asia.

And 54 percent were unaware that Sudan is a country in Africa.

Remember the December 2004 tsunami and the widespread images of devastation in Indonesia?

Three-quarters of respondents failed to find that country on a map. And three-quarters were unaware that a majority of Indonesia's population is Muslim, making it the largest Muslim country in the world."
- National Geographic's Report
Well if you're ready, do the 2006 National Geographic-Roper Survey of Geographic Literacy!

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1 comment:

LHam said...

I got 75% of the questions right.