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37% of 18-24 year olds can't find Iraq on a map 50% can't find New York

37% of 18-24 year olds can't find Iraq on a map 50% can't find New York

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Published by diligentpurpose

The dumbing down continues...


The dumbing down continues...


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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: diligentpurpose on Dec 28, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Don't Know Much About Geography
by Lory Hough
In many ways, it shouldn't come as a shock, but it still does:Last year, when the National Geographic Society surveyed 18-to 24-year-old Americans to find out what they knew about theworld, only 37 percent could find Iraq on a map, despite thefact that U.S. troops have been in that country since 2003.(Places closer tohome didn't fare much better: 50 percent couldn't locate NewYork, the country's third largest state.)And it wasn't just geography that highlighted their lack of whatEd School alum Bill Jaeger, Ed.M.'03, calls "planet awareness":More than 70 percent thought English was the most spokennative language in the world (it's Mandarin Chinese) and only10 percent communicated regularly with anyone outside theUnited States. (With only 22 percent having a passport, mostdidn't travel abroad, either.)Are American students "as dumb as rocks," as the
Weekly Standard 
newspaper once called them, or are schools to blamefor failing to teach them that there is life outside their owncommunities?
 Schools Empty of Their Purpose
Although Ed School ProfessorFernando Reimers, Ed.M'84,Ed.D.'88, doesn't think kids are dumb and he doesn'tnecessarily blame schools, he does think schools have to do amuch better job of helping students in the United States bemore "globally competent.""A decade ago, the average high school student took threecivics courses in order to graduate. Now it's just one, and it'susually taught in the last year. Half of Latino students don'tmake it that far in school," he said. "The schools are not reallyasking the question, What do you need to know now to be aneffective and competent global citizen?"In other words, they're not helping to develop full citizens whounderstand what democracy is and why it breaks down, whattheir rights and responsibilities are toward one another, orwhat role international institutions play in advancing humanrights. And this requires more than just finding Iraq on a map.
"Just as computer literacybecame an increasing necessityto live in a changing world inthe last decade, global culturalliteracy should now occupy thesame importance in ourschools." –Michael Lisman,Ed.M.’05
It's about digging deeper. Much deeper.We can't do this, he said, when we short change social studies,geography, and foreign language classes, as more and moreschools have in recent years.According to the Center for Applied Linguistics, for example,only 31 percent of American elementary schools reportteaching foreign languages. High schools and colleges aren'tmuch better: only 44 percent of high schoolers and 8 percentof undergraduates are enrolled in a second language."Schools have been emptied of their civic purpose," Reimerssaid. "This is preventing children from developing a purposebigger than themselves. That doesn't serve the nation well."Michael Lisman,Ed.M.'05, a graduate of theInternationalEducation PolicyProgramthat Reimersdirects, worked withMassachusettsRepresentative KayKhan on recentlegislation that makesinternational educationa priority in the state.He says the time for global competence is now."Just as computer literacy became an increasing necessity tolive in a changing world in the last decade, global culturalliteracy should now occupy the same importance in ourschools," said Lisman, now a coordinator for Inter-AmericanDialogue in Central America and the Caribbean.This is especially critical in an era of accelerated globalization --the buzzword used when talking about the breakdown of national borders and the interconnectedness of information,ideas, and economies across the world.Jaeger, who serves as the social studies department teamleader at a magnet school in Bloomfield, Conn., said Americanstudents need to understand that globalization isn't just abuzzword -- it personally affects them."We are in an unprecedented era of globalization wherestudents will be competing for jobs and for market shares of businesses with not just students the next town over or thenext state over," he said, "but rather the next 10 time zonesover."
 How Did We Get Here?
The problem is, while globalization is asking students toexpand their knowledge and understanding of the world,several factors are making this more difficult to do.For starters, the United States has become, as the
Washington Post 
once called it, Test Nation. High stakes tests mandated bystate laws and the 2002 federal No Child Left Behind Act(NCLB) have forced curriculums to focus almost exclusively onmath, reading, and science, leaving little room for anything
“Literacy is a priority and animportant step tounderstanding social studies."–Helena Payne, Ed.M.'06,
else. As a result, students are "being trained, not educated,"said the
Chronicle of Higher Education 
.Assistant ProfessorHunter Gehlbach said schools are under a lot of pressure to reach certain goals."This filters down and the message is clear: Increase testscores," he said. "One thing not on standardized tests is aquestion like, Can you make sense out of this person's actionsin history?"He saw this first-hand when he taught western civ to 10thgraders at a school outside of Philadelphia."My students did a good job of taking the perspective of historical figures -- for example, what Native Americans mighthave been thinking when Columbus came off the boat," hesaid, "but two weeks later, the same students might blow up ateach other and not be able to take the perspective of aclassmate that they had known for years."This lack of interpersonal perspective taking is particularlyproblematic as the nation becomes more ethnically diverse,Reimers said. In 1970, blacks and Latinos made up 16 percentof the population, according to the U.S. Census. By 2050, theywill become almost 40 percent.For some students, this lack of relevancy of educationtranslates into more than just the inability to answer simplegeography questions in school or speak a second language. Ittranslates into: I'm checking out mentally and, in some cases,physically."A recent study of high school dropouts in the United Statesconfirms that the students who abandon high school are notnecessarily those with the lowest levels of academicperformance," Reimers said, "but those who do not find highschools challenging and do not see how continuing in schoolwill fit with their own life plans and expectations."Of course, not everyonesees high-stakes testingas completely negativewhen it comes to socialstudies and history.Training students to bebetter readers, forinstance, may help them better grasp a chapter on theConstitution."Literacy is a priority and an important step to understandingsocial studies," said Helena Payne, Ed.M.'06, a seventh-gradesocial studies teacher at George Washington Middle School inAlexandria, Virginia. "Reading is difficult for some students, sofocusing on literacy helps them better understand the material.It's complementary."
 Other Factors
Although it's easy to just blame NCLB for the demise of socialstudies and the lack of global courses, there are other factorsthat have also left their mark. Some say the decline startedwell before the 2002 act was signed into law. As far back as

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