Among many problems faced by young Americans today, the increasing rate of ignorance related to the knowledge on geography and history of the USA seems to become a significant problem in the future. This issue is important to be discussed and addressed because today the limited level of knowledge on such basic facts as the location of the country in the world and states in the USA is demonstrated by the future policy makers, public administrators, and professionals in fields of the national economy and international relations.
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The problem is in the fact that the low level of knowledge on general historical, political, religious, scientific, administrative, and world issues is characteristic for college and university students who are expected to take high position in the society in the future. From this point, it is important to examine the issue of the students’ ignorance in detail in order to predict negative consequences and propose possible solutions to the question while referring to the primary data and scholars’ visions of the problem.
The results of the national surveys and interviews with scholars and students demonstrate that the general level of ignorance and level of the geographic illiteracy tend to increase among young Americans. Thus, the National Geographic survey demonstrated that more than 60% of American college and university students face difficulties identifying their country on the world map and their states on the map of the USA (National Geographic).
The majority of students cannot indicate the location of such countries as Iraq, the UK, and Japan on the world map as well as the entire African continent, when they are not labeled (“Interview with Harm de Blij” par. 3; National Geographic). About 35% of students in American colleges and universities are not able to sing the national anthem, and many students cannot sing even the first few verses of it (Stone). In addition, many American students cannot remember the name of their state governors, senators, and congressmen (Stone).
If the majority of American students fail to answer simple questions on geography and history related to their own country and world nations, the problems need to be addressed immediately in order to contribute to the future social progress.
Focusing on the problem of geographic illiteracy, scholars argue that the issue is caused by a number of factors. In particular, Fingeret notes that exceptionalism and isolationism can be discussed as the causes of the issue development (Fingeret 134). These factors are reflected in the materials used by instructors to teach students. Thus, the American education system can be discussed as failing to help young people in developing their knowledge on geography and history.
The problem is in the fact that instructors and students are inclined to ignore the importance of different parts of the world to be discussed in classes (Eve, Price, and Counts 409). There is also a low level of awareness of international matters in American students.
For instance, it has been found that the young Americans are more concerned with their daily lives, entertainment, and relationships, and they ignore focusing on issues in the spheres of geopolitics or international relations (Fingeret 135). Therefore, if changes in the educational system and social policies are not made, future generations of Americans will be illiterate regarding the geographic, historic, and social questions.
The dramatic consequence of the increase in the rate of ignorance is the impossibility for the nation to develop as the major economic and military power in the world. To understand changes in the local and world geopolitics and be able to use advantages of innovations and technologies for the progress, students need to increase their level of literacy regarding general geographic, historic, and political issues that are closely connected.
Most nations in the world work to increase the level and quality of education offered to their young generations in the context of global and national programs. In particular, most nations emphasize the role of knowledge in science, history, geography, international relations, and languages for each student. The long-term effect of such processes is that American professionals will be less competent in foreign relations and geopolitics than young professionals in other countries.
The issue of the geographic illiteracy and general ignorance can be resolved with the focus on changes in the American education system. This approach will help avoid a possible knowledge crisis in the future. The American educational system fails to educate young citizens regarding the basic geographic knowledge and information required to follow international events, participate fully in decision and policy making, and demonstrate the effective leadership in all sectors (“Interview with Harm de Blij” par. 4).
Improving the educational approaches related to the issue, it is possible to avoid losing development opportunities for American public administrators in the future. Americans are oriented to achieve high standards in terms of quality of education, administration policies, democracy, health, business, science, technology, innovation, international politics, and military. As a result, it is important to overcome the current rate of ignorance among the American students.
Possible alternatives to address the issue are numerous. First, it is important to revise the curriculum content and its design in such subject areas as geography, history, and international relations to meet the national demand for the well-educated population. In this case, American students will be required to take subjects in social sciences, international relations, science, and others in order to develop general skills necessary to achieve competency in the national and international affairs.
Moreover, American colleges and universities can be required to introduce general courses on these subjects during the first and second years of study, and the additional monitoring of the students’ progress can be proposed.
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The media have also played a significant role in reducing the level of knowledge among the young Americans because some portion of their content regarding the demonstration of states’ location is often incorrect and misleading. As a result, it is possible to monitor the media content, especially of educational programs and news. Finally, it is important to monitor the content of teaching materials and resources used in schools, colleges, and universities.
From this perspective, to address the issue of the students’ geographic illiteracy, it is important to take appropriate actions in order to solve the problem and prevent the future generations from the shame of losing their position at the international arena because of ignorance and incompetence.
The problem is in the fact that individuals with the little knowledge on geography and history as well as on national, regional, and international matters are less competent in making decisions, especially in public and business administration. Therefore, the reformation of the American educational system at the local, state, and federal level is important to address the identified issue.
Eve, Raymond, Bob Price, and Monika Counts. “Geographic Illiteracy among College Students”. Youth & Society 25.3 (2006): 408-427. Print.
Fingeret, Arlene. “Social Network: A New Perspective on Independence and Illiterate Adults”. Adult Education Quarterly 33.3 (2008): 133-146. Print.
Interview with Harm de Blij. 2010. Web.
National Geographic. Survey: Young Americans Geographically Illiterate. 2006. Web.
Stone, Catherine. Personal interview. 2015.