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Geographical Ignorance :(


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#16 Violinia

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Posted 06 June 2008 - 21:27

QUOTE(Susie @ Jun 6 2008, 10:21 PM) View Post

Hmm, my son didn't seem to know that Germany was in Europe the other day, a product of education at school, or non-education rather.

However, he does know where Kazahkstan is - and has done so since he was about 7, because my husband regularly goes there on business. So clearly home education works, even if it's just by osmosis.

I remember being given a jigsaw puzzle of a map of Britain for a Christmas present as a child. It's no good to pass on to my children because some of the counties are in the wrong place, and I remember always getting very confused where the tiny Rutland was, but at least I have a reasonable knowledge of the geography of the UK, even if it's mostly the counties. (And I gave up Geography when I was 12 - didn't do O level).


My uncle (who lived in America) sent me a wonderful jigsaw puzzle when I was a child; each piece was a state so it was a fait accompli that I learnt where all the states were, no trouble. It would be so eay for someone to make a jigsaw puzzle where all the pieces were British counties, or European countries but I wasn't able to find one when my child was young though I looked everywhere.

Anyway you may have given up geography when you were 12 but I bet you've never forgotten where the counties are, even though you probably still get Rutland wrong!


QUOTE(snhs @ Jun 6 2008, 10:22 PM) View Post

QUOTE(Miss Ross @ Jun 6 2008, 10:01 PM) View Post

Gah.... and it's 'my' generation who look like idiots, which therefore seems to make most people presume that most of us of a similar age are the same. mad.gif What's going wrong?!


Well if anything has gone wrong it would be because of previous generations because it has been them who have control of the school curriculum, what we're taught at home etc.

Realistically we don't need to know that much about other countries/capitals these days anyway when most of the decisions are taken in the two or three best known locations (London, Washington etc). The other thing is that the previous generations had a schooling that was still within living memory of WWI/WWII, so it was Berlin, Rome and Tokyo they'd have heard about in the papers rather than Tehran and Baghdad. It has more to do with the curriculum than anything else though.


Most Americans when asked haven't a clue where Iraq is even though their country is involved in a war over there.

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#17 Hedgehog

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Posted 06 June 2008 - 21:29

QUOTE(snhs @ Jun 6 2008, 10:22 PM) View Post

Realistically we don't need to know that much about other countries/capitals these days anyway when most of the decisions are taken in the two or three best known locations (London, Washington etc).


Interesting concept! ph34r.gif

On the contrary I think it's even more important to know a great deal about other countries, nationalities as so much business is done world wide. Adopting this sort of attitude rather emphasises the accusation that can be levelled at the British of being insular.
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#18 snhs

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Posted 06 June 2008 - 21:30

QUOTE(Violinia @ Jun 6 2008, 10:27 PM) View Post

QUOTE(snhs @ Jun 6 2008, 10:22 PM) View Post

QUOTE(Miss Ross @ Jun 6 2008, 10:01 PM) View Post

Gah.... and it's 'my' generation who look like idiots, which therefore seems to make most people presume that most of us of a similar age are the same. mad.gif What's going wrong?!


Well if anything has gone wrong it would be because of previous generations because it has been them who have control of the school curriculum, what we're taught at home etc.

Realistically we don't need to know that much about other countries/capitals these days anyway when most of the decisions are taken in the two or three best known locations (London, Washington etc). The other thing is that the previous generations had a schooling that was still within living memory of WWI/WWII, so it was Berlin, Rome and Tokyo they'd have heard about in the papers rather than Tehran and Baghdad. It has more to do with the curriculum than anything else though.


Most Americans when asked haven't a clue where Iraq is even though their country is involved in a war over there.


Americans are Americans though rolleyes.gif. And I think that would probably be true of many Americans of all ages.
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#19 Roseau

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Posted 06 June 2008 - 21:31

Although I grew up in the south of the UK, all my family are Australian and I had an Uncle who lived in Perth, which I could place perfectly well on a map of Australia. I can remember being very confused as a child when somebody told me they were driving north to Perth for a holiday.
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#20 snhs

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Posted 06 June 2008 - 21:41

QUOTE(Susie @ Jun 6 2008, 10:29 PM) View Post

QUOTE(snhs @ Jun 6 2008, 10:22 PM) View Post

Realistically we don't need to know that much about other countries/capitals these days anyway when most of the decisions are taken in the two or three best known locations (London, Washington etc).


Interesting concept! ph34r.gif

On the contrary I think it's even more important to know a great deal about other countries, nationalities as so much business is done world wide. Adopting this sort of attitude rather emphasises the accusation that can be levelled at the British of being insular.


Well that is the attitude which has apparently been shaping education policy. For the most part you can make a perfectly decent argument for it given that the vast majority of people aren't going to work outwith Britain for a substantial portion of their working life.

Are you advocating interventionism or globalism? There are relatively few countries/groupings that are going to matter in the future, some include the US, China, India, the U.N. and possibly the E.U. and G8. We have a seat at the top table of the last three groups, India is a former part of the Empire and as such has certain ties/similarities with Britain and we have quite good relations with the US. I don't think thats too bad for an allegedly insular country. For certain professions it may be important to have some idea of where things are like pilots in case the navigation goes down. But beyond that the knowledge which is actually needed?
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#21 bluebell

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Posted 06 June 2008 - 21:42

These kind of things make me laugh.. Cruel I know.. But I find the level of ignorance in some people astounding..

My 9yr old knows what the capital of Russia is.. And America. etc..
How can you not know? Do these people live in a bubble or something?

Mind you he often comes home from school saying things like, "Mrs so-and-so a support teacher says that musketeers are like spearmen and she told me I was wrong to say they carried guns..." And he rolls his eyes. laugh.gif


Graham Norton was on tv last night. He was interviewing the woman who's now the new Nancy (from I'd do anything).. She didn't know what conjugal rights meant which made my jaw drop.
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#22 Hedgehog

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Posted 06 June 2008 - 21:55

QUOTE(snhs @ Jun 6 2008, 10:41 PM) View Post


Are you advocating interventionism or globalism?

But beyond that the knowledge which is actually needed?


I'm not aware that I was advocating either interventionism or globalism. I don't really think in such terms, I'm afraid.

But, I think it's rather sad that your reply rather gives the impression that we should be interested only in knowledge which is actually needed. Surely, there should be enjoyment in acquiring new knowledge in general. (I apologise if that's not what you meant, but it's how it comes across to me.)
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#23 Violinia

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Posted 06 June 2008 - 21:55

QUOTE(snhs @ Jun 6 2008, 10:41 PM) View Post

Are you advocating interventionism or globalism? There are relatively few countries/groupings that are going to matter in the future, some include the US, China, India, the U.N. and possibly the E.U. and G8. We have a seat at the top table of the last three groups, India is a former part of the Empire and as such has certain ties/similarities with Britain and we have quite good relations with the US. I don't think thats too bad for an allegedly insular country. For certain professions it may be important to have some idea of where things are like pilots in case the navigation goes down. But beyond that the knowledge which is actually needed?


I find what you're saying somewhat insular. Are you suggesting there's no point knowing anything about countries who aren't 'going to matter in the future'? So there's no point knowing about polar bears or any other animals we don't eat because they're not useful to us in some way?

So you think it's OK for British children to grow up to be the laughing stock of Europe because of our ignorance of countries that 'don't matter to us'? Isn't this a bit arrogant? Don't you think a certain amount of general knowledge is something we should just have? Because a basic knowledge of the world, the people in it and their various histories and geographical placements contributes to our understanding of the world? And aren't we in danger of becoming potentially dangerously ignorant and one-eyed if we don't have this basic degree of general knowlege? To others and also to ourselves?
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#24 Guest: Mad Tom_*

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Posted 06 June 2008 - 22:51

QUOTE(snhs @ Jun 6 2008, 09:41 PM) View Post

Well that is the attitude which has apparently been shaping education policy. For the most part you can make a perfectly decent argument for it

You can make a great argument for turning people into brainless sheep ... IF you are a wolf
QUOTE(snhs @ Jun 6 2008, 09:41 PM) View Post

Are you advocating interventionism or globalism? There are relatively few countries/groupings that are going to matter in the future, some include the US, China, India, the U.N. and possibly the E.U. and G8. We have a seat at the top table of the last three groups, India is a former part of the Empire and as such has certain ties/similarities with Britain and we have quite good relations with the US. I don't think thats too bad for an allegedly insular country. For certain professions it may be important to have some idea of where things are like pilots in case the navigation goes down. But beyond that the knowledge which is actually needed?

Are you deliberately trying to wind everyone up AGAIN or can you really not help it?

piano.gif
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#25 Misti

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Posted 06 June 2008 - 23:01

I don't see the problem, to be honest. After all, any child or adult can open at Atlas and look up facts. Surely its more important that geography in school teaches them how to use an Atlas. Education is surely about learning skills rather than facts.

As far as I'm aware, the modern emphasis of geography is to learn the whats (how meanders are formed, global warming, plate techtonics, weather systems, migrations patterns) in the context of the wheres (erosion in the Lake District, housing reform in Glasgow, sustainable development in... have to admit I can't remember a case study for that one).

And I also think thats far more interesting that learning where countries are on a map.

(Have to admit though, I could locate all the aforementioned countries... :S)
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#26 Guest: lucky045_*

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Posted 06 June 2008 - 23:14

Ok, sorry I have to jump in here - it's so easy to criticise the education system, but I went to a comprehensive, I learnt countries and capitals at primary school, and it was reinforced again in secondary school, AND we did all the physical geography. It was just on the syllabus. I'm 18 now, so if I did geography for the last time when I was fourteen (I really hated it and dropped it ASAP) things can't have changed that much.

I don't know if I'd remember everything I learnt now, but I could answer those questions.
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#27 Violinia

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Posted 06 June 2008 - 23:16

QUOTE(tamsin @ Jun 7 2008, 12:01 AM) View Post

I don't see the problem, to be honest. After all, any child or adult can open at Atlas and look up facts. Surely its more important that geography in school teaches them how to use an Atlas. Education is surely about learning skills rather than facts.

As far as I'm aware, the modern emphasis of geography is to learn the whats (how meanders are formed, global warming, plate techtonics, weather systems, migrations patterns) in the context of the wheres (erosion in the Lake District, housing reform in Glasgow, sustainable development in... have to admit I can't remember a case study for that one).

And I also think thats far more interesting that learning where countries are on a map.

(Have to admit though, I could locate all the aforementioned countries... :S)


Well if these children have the skills to read an atlas but just aren't interested enough to bother, then surely something's wrong somewhere...

And not to have heard of Hungary, think Beijing's in Germany, Orlando's the capital of America and Holland's the capital of Belgium suggests an appalling level of ignorance as far as I'm concerned.

NB No doubt all these kids can name every character in Friends, Pirates of the Caribbean, High School Musical and the latest edition of Heat Magazine/Big Brother... and you think there's no problem? can't you see what I'm getting at? The less you know, the more you can be manipulated! We're being dumbed down to a frightening degree!
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#28 snhs

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Posted 06 June 2008 - 23:30

QUOTE(Susie @ Jun 6 2008, 10:55 PM) View Post

But, I think it's rather sad that your reply rather gives the impression that we should be interested only in knowledge which is actually needed. Surely, there should be enjoyment in acquiring new knowledge in general. (I apologise if that's not what you meant, but it's how it comes across to me.)


I'm a Maths student, absolutely love knowledge with no apparent purpose. But in the school system it make sense that the people making the programme target it in such a way that it is as useful as possible. If I intend to spend most of my working life in Britain as most pupils do it makes sense not to spend valuable class hours learning about the locations of European capitals. If twenty years after leaving school my company transfers me to New Zealand then obviously I'll need to start learning about where Auckland is etc.

Take Latin as an example, I'd have loved to learn it at school but 20 years ago people decided it wasn't necessary and much as I'd have liked to do it I'd be far less likely to put it to use than the French I did learn. At one point Latin was a hallmark of a good education, it was crucial but then its importance faded and its position in the syllabus was displaced by things considered more important. Similarly while at one point a lot of time in class was expended teaching children about various parts of the Empire, the Commonwealth, the capitals etc of our allies/opponents in the Wars there is less importance placed on it now so it is being replaced by other things.

Thirty years ago it was a very small minority of people who could use a computer. Now just about every student going through school will be fluent in using the internet, word applications etc. Its quite possible that any of the younger people on the forum could come on complaining about the absolute ignorance of their Gran/Mum/Aunt on computer, how they can't even find the return key or the backspace button or whatever. The skill set required has changed, a finite amount of time is available to learn it.

QUOTE(Violinia @ Jun 6 2008, 10:55 PM) View Post

I find what you're saying somewhat insular. Are you suggesting there's no point knowing anything about countries who aren't 'going to matter in the future'? So there's no point knowing about polar bears or any other animals we don't eat because they're not useful to us in some way?

So you think it's OK for British children to grow up to be the laughing stock of Europe because of our ignorance of countries that 'don't matter to us'? Isn't this a bit arrogant? Don't you think a certain amount of general knowledge is something we should just have? Because a basic knowledge of the world, the people in it and their various histories and geographical placements contributes to our understanding of the world? And aren't we in danger of becoming potentially dangerously ignorant and one-eyed if we don't have this basic degree of general knowlege? To others and also to ourselves?


It is not insular when I'm taking account of what will put Britain in the best position for the future. There are hundreds of countries, would you prefer a student to know the capitals and position on the globe of each or to know a lot about the countries and groups who hold the power?

I don't care if other countries are laughing at us, so long as we have the last laugh. Each country must take policy decisions to bring about the outcomes they consider desirable. If for other European capitals that means being able to pinpoint the capital of Bolivia is vital to their future success then fine, if it means knowing enough about the vital countries/organisations and better positioning us for the future then I'm all for it. Apart from anything else nothing says that parents can't take their children home and sit them down while they point at maps and ring off capitals, the fact they don't suggests that the country at large doesn't consider it as important as some Europeans might think.

General knowledge is all very well but it changes. Today people know about Iraq War 100 years ago they'd have known about the Boer War. Perhaps yesterday people knew all the worlds countries and capitals and today they know the WWW and computers.


QUOTE(Mad Tom @ Jun 6 2008, 11:51 PM) View Post

QUOTE(snhs @ Jun 6 2008, 09:41 PM) View Post

Well that is the attitude which has apparently been shaping education policy. For the most part you can make a perfectly decent argument for it

You can make a great argument for turning people into brainless sheep ... IF you are a wolf
QUOTE(snhs @ Jun 6 2008, 09:41 PM) View Post

Are you advocating interventionism or globalism? There are relatively few countries/groupings that are going to matter in the future, some include the US, China, India, the U.N. and possibly the E.U. and G8. We have a seat at the top table of the last three groups, India is a former part of the Empire and as such has certain ties/similarities with Britain and we have quite good relations with the US. I don't think thats too bad for an allegedly insular country. For certain professions it may be important to have some idea of where things are like pilots in case the navigation goes down. But beyond that the knowledge which is actually needed?

Are you deliberately trying to wind everyone up AGAIN or can you really not help it?


If thats the case the argument against it should be very strong, the fact it is not suggests your position is flawed.

How about this for an idea, if you have something relevant to say, on the topic and not about me, you say it if not you don't start trying to insult people. Please bear in mind that trolling, insults, personal attacks, and abusive/offensive/aggressive posts are against the forum rules. Oh, and I just noticed defamatory attacks as well, try to bear that in mind rolleyes.gif.
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#29 Guest: Mad Tom_*

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Posted 06 June 2008 - 23:41

QUOTE(snhs @ Jun 6 2008, 11:30 PM) View Post

Please bear in mind that trolling, insults, personal attacks, and abusive/offensive/aggressive posts are against the forum rules. Oh, and I just noticed defamatory attacks as well, try to bear that in mind


!!!!!!!!!!!!!! smile.gif
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#30 cello86

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Posted 06 June 2008 - 23:44

A girl in my halls last year bought a poster of a map of the world to brighten her bare walls. Only then did she realise that Madagascar was actually a real place, and not just a film!
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