More geographical education is needed in our schools


An American not recognizing the United States when it is flipped upisde-down.

Every so often, while scrolling through TikTok, I’ll come across a video where someone walks up to strangers in public (usually Americans) and asks them a series of questions testing their knowledge on certain subjects. The people usually respond with wildly incorrect answers and are left with the viewers laughing at them. One of the most common subjects I see asked about is geography; whether it’s being asked to name three countries that start with the letter R or the longest river in the world, people are almost always wrong. I personally know quite a bit about world maps and different countries as it is an interest of mine, and watching these types of videos, I more often than not find myself scoffing at how unbelievably wrong these people are. 

Americans are generally stereotyped as being bad at geography and overall knowledge of the world, and it seems that time and time again, people prove this stereotype correct. But why are so many Americans bad at geography?

For one, geography is not a typical school subject in America. The closest thing we have to geography teaching at our school would be in World History classes or Model United Nations, so students don’t get much experience identifying countries. The few places that students are taught about are usually large, first-world countries, while smaller, lesser-known countries are left out of the curriculum.

In the state of our world, it’s crucial to stay up to date on current events and knowledge about the world that we live in.”

Some states and schools have even cut the geography course completely so students can spend time on other subjects. However, with the current climate of our world, being able to name places on a map is an essential and easy-to-learn skill.

Classes or units within certain courses should be taught to teach students about the world’s countries and how the lives they lead differ from ours. Even a basic understanding of how others go through their day-to-day life can help people gain more empathy and better recognize that where you live vastly changes the turnout of your life.

Not only does the American education system lack proper geography courses, but some Americans simply choose to stay ignorant of countries that aren’t theirs. Unfortunately, many people believe that the United States is the best country in the world, and therefore, not many other countries are worth learning about. This mindset is outdated, and in the state of our world, it’s crucial to stay up to date on current events and knowledge about the world that we live in.

With limited geographical knowledge, it is much more difficult to conduct foreign trade, and currently, most Americans don’t even come close to students similarly aged who know so much more about geography. As a part of the generation that will soon be the ones in charge of things, we have to consider how our apparent lack of comprehension of a rather basic subject will affect the climate of our country and economy. Geography, while under-appreciated, is an important topic that needs to be taught in schools, or we won’t be able to keep up with the rest of the world.