Geographic Ignorance Florida Schools

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Valentina Franco, Staff Writer

It is not common knowledge that when FCAT curriculum was imposed in 1998, Florida schools had to sacrifice elective classes so some students could be better prepared for the required standardized state test. The extent of these sacrifices were felt when geography classes began to disappear and its repercussions of this are apparent in today’s young adults. Too many up and coming contributing members of society are incredibly ignorant when it comes to geography. This situation should baffle our teachers and parents.

When asked to point out Afghanistan on a blank map without border lines, some Wellington High School students either pointed to Romania or simply said “in the Middle East” or “near Jerusalem.” Others just flat out did not know or were unable to remotely guess. This is an alarming consequence of the elimination of geography classes this proves that some students can’t even point out a country that has been on millions of newspaper headlines for over ten years and can be considered a hot bed of international turmoil.

Afghanistan was not the only country unable to be identified on a map. When asked to label places such as Oceania, Uruguay or New Zealand, some students pointed to Africa while looking for Uruguay and others pointed to Madagascar and Russia when asked to find New Zealand. When asked to identify the area of Oceania, some resorted to the idea that it was an actual country “near Alaska” or simply pointed near Austria.
Some students however could actually give correct responses, but the majority of the questioned pupils gave incorrect answers. For example, when asked to locate Ghana, almost all of the students correctly pointed to the vicinity of Ghana with minor error.

After establishing that locations of countries were unknown to many Wellington High students, further speculations could be made about students’ responses when asked to locate mountain ranges. Some said that the Rocky Mountain Ranges, which stretch for over 3,000 miles and is a major mountain range found in North America, is located on the east coast of the United States; and the Andes, which are the Rockies Southern counterpart- being the biggest mountain range in South America is to be located in Asia, according to South Florida students.

“I feel like America really lacks knowledge about locations outside of the USA, and I feel like that could be a problem because I bet half of the young population wouldn’t even know where Syria is,” Brandon Laver from England said about the geographic ignorance even on a known country.

In the end, we can see that the main cause of this problem does not lie in the students’ hands. Preparation for a standardized tests has eliminated the chance for pupils to be exposed to a subject that teaches common, universal knowledge like geography.