[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.
You really think we're going to have the last laugh? We're going down the same road as America and you think they're going to have the last laugh? An ignorant population, or a population that knows nothing except trivia and how to surf the net but learn very little is in a prime position for being endlessly manipulated - to spend money on things we don't need, to support wars that do nothing except bring misery to the populations they're inflicted on and wealth to the perpertrators (Halliburton, Carlyle etc).
What about ethics? Do you really think knowing about the world around us is just so much trivia for the brain? Can't you see there might be a deeper reason for knowing about the world? Something to do with a human connectedness? Do you see education merely as a means to enrich oneself financially? Why have a music education in that case? It's not going to help many people become financially well-off after all, is it?
Do you really think the best way forward for the world is for citizens to think only of themselves, and for countries to do likewise? Isn't that the cause of all the problems in the world? America going around starting wars for its own self-interest, education dumbing down to perpetuate big business? Who really benefits in all of this?