I guess you can't really test something that isn't taught in the "social studies" muddle. What a disgrace.
Here is that entry, minus useful links. (Go to the original for the links).
GEOGRAPHY IS DESTINY....Joanne Jacobs blogs today about geography education:
American students rarely study geography as a distinct subject, and I'm not sure they study it at all. Geography is part of the great social studies muddle, but it's in disfavor: Too many facts. That's why homeschooled kids dominate the Geography Bee.
I think that's putting it kindly. A couple of months ago I was trying to find the results of one of those international tests of high school students — you know, the ones that generate annual horror stories about how American kids rank just behind Swaziland in useful knowledge — and I ended up skimming through the NAEP geography test. It was edifying.
First of all, here are the three categories of questions on the test:
· Space and Place
· Environment and Society
· Spatial Dynamics and Connections (my favorite)
And the questions? There are some questions that you would normally think of as geography questions (identify Lake Superior, what is the southernmost country, etc.), but they are few and far between. Instead, most of them are like this:
· Read the passage above. What does Chief Seattle believe about owning land? Many other people in the United States hold views on owning land different from those of Chief Seattle.
What are these views?
· Environmental issues are viewed differently by people in different circumstances. Explain how the artist makes this point in the cartoon.
· Many children all over the world know what rock-and-roll music is. What has made this possible?
· What contributes to the greenhouse effect?
· What is an important reason that skyscrapers were built in American cities?
· What is one argument in favor of developing nuclear energy for peaceful purposes? What is one argument against developing nuclear energy for peaceful purposes?
I can't figure out even a tenuous connection between that last question and the study of geography.
I'm aware that it's all too easy to mock efforts to make education more interesting and stimulating by de-emphasizing rote facts. What's more, I don't believe that international comparisons have as much value as some people seem to think. After all, low scores or not we somehow keep churning out the youngsters who start up the companies and make the discoveries that the rest of the world depends on.
Still, in a country where one-third of fourth graders can't find their own state on a map of the United States, some back-to-basics is probably in order. After all, if we're going to spend all of our time hating France, shouldn't our kids at least know where France is?