Yet Another Study Demonstrates young Americans’ Geography Illiteracy

The National Geographic-Roper Public Affairs 2006 Geographic Literacy Study was just released, with more sad news about young Americans’ (aged 18-24) lack of even basic geography skills like reading a map. Only 50% or less of the surveyed people could identify New York or Ohio on a map, and 88 percent couldn’t find Afghanistan, and about 60% couldn’t find Iraq. Those kind of statistics go on and on, but here’s what I think is the really disappointing stat that was quoted in the news article: “Fewer than three in 10 think it important to know the locations of countries in the news and just 14% believe speaking another language is a necessary skill.” At the rate that globalization is changing the world, an attitude that only America matters or, more specifically, “my backyard” (considering a lot of the survey respondents couldn’t even identify other US states), just isn’t going to cut it. As someone who in theory is pursuing a PhD in Geography so I can teach others, I have to say it’s really depressing, but the real issue will be to try to figure out how to reverse the trend.