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‘Geography literacy lacking in US schools’

US: National Geographic-Roper 9 country survey on geographic literacy in the US found young adults, ages 18-24, are severely lacking in their ability to identify key areas on a world map.
Brennan Kraxberger, an assistant professor in the Department of Government at Christopher Newport University, said, “Students don’t get much formal geographic instruction in American schools. Under the No Child Left Behind law, math and reading have been privileged to the detriment of social studies, science, the arts and foreign languages. The US is the only country that has so de-emphasised these other subjects to focus on basic academic skills.”
According to Kraxberger, while No Child Left Behind has posed problems for teaching geography in schools, it isn’t the only culprit to blame in the lack of geographic instruction found today across the country. “Some Virginia school divisions have dropped secondary level geography courses, especially world geography, after seeing students weren’t performing well enough on the Standards of Learning tests in that area,” Kraxberger added.
“The Virginia Department of Education allows school divisions to substitute another social studies subject for geography. This is a real tragedy, since a geographical perspective cannot simply be replaced with an historical or a sociological perspective.” “The subject is taught in an encyclopedic fashion,” said Kraxberger. While some rote memorization is essential, he said, students have too often been turned off because of the emphasis on memorizing place locations and facts.
Meanwhile, a good news is a bill introduced in March by US Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss.  The bill aims to fund a four-year, USD 60 million programme to enhance the teaching of geography in public schools around the country. The bill is currently in committee.
The growing emphasis on a global economy, as well as the Labor Department’s findings that geotechnology is one of the three fastest growing employment fields heightens the importance of geography in schools. The geospatial technology industry — which employs surveyors, cartographers and surveying technicians — is expected to open up more than 70,000 new jobs every year, according to the Labor Department.
Source: Daily Press