GeoCarta Has Moved

Jan 18, 2006

Curing Americans' Cluelessness

Roger Andresen is a man on a mission. Scripps Howard News Service reports that the former fiber-optic engineer is determined to cure American's geographic ignorance:

"I went out and gave a simple geography quiz to 400 people on the streets of Atlanta, and they all realized they were pretty bad at it," Andresen says. "Then I asked them, 'Do you care?' And I found out that a lot of people weren't happy about it."

It looks like Mr. Andresen has his work cut out for him. A study of Americans ages 18 to 24 found:

  • 11% couldn't locate the United States on a map.
  • Almost 30% couldn't find the Pacific Ocean.
  • Among 3,000 people surveyed in Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Sweden and the U.S., the U.S. scored next to last in geographic literacy .

To combat American's geographic ignorance, Mr. Anderson started, A Broader View. The firm sells The Global Puzzle, a jigsaw puzzle which is a map of the world whose pieces are shaped like the countries of the world. He also has a website, The Geography Zone, which features a geography quiz game designed to make the subject fun for kids.

Mr. Anderson should be commended for trying to increase kid's knowledge about the world, but he might want to consider another tactic - reality TV. A recent survey found that while just 13% of young Americans could locate either Iraq or Iran. They were much more likely to know that the island featured in the reality show "Survivor" was in the South Pacific.