Right now I’m prepping an indictment speech for Speech Communication that I must give today. My speech is about geography education…specifically, I’m going to argue that the US Department of Education should strongly recommend that states develop middle school and high school geography programs. My specific indictments are that 1) a lack of geography education produces geographic illiteracy and 2) a lack of geography education makes it difficult for people to make sound decisions on global issues. I found lots of evidence (maybe too much as I’m afraid of not staying within time). Some pretty laughable statistics from various time periods…in 1990, 25% of Texas high school seniors reportedly didn’t know Mexico is the country immediately south of the border…in 1994, a Dept of Ed report found that 1 in 6 US high school seniors thought the Panama Canal shortened travel time between NYC and London…in 2002, citizens from France, Canada, Japan, Mexico and Sweden were found to be more competent than US citizens at just finding the US on a map…and a 2006 survey found that almost 9 in 10 college age Americans were unable to find Afghanistan on a map and over 6 in 10 couldn’t find Iraq…all while these wars were raging. How can geographers even teach about spatial understanding and analysis if people don’t even know where stuff is in basic terms? It’s pretty sad.
In other news, I have a GIS mapping assignment due tonight I need to work on this afternoon as well as other homework in my general ed classes. I also need to find time to work. I’m going to be a busy bee today. For my job, I’m done with the wetland project after so many months of it. I’m for the moment working with another graduate student to update a database of county cases of West Nile Virus across the entire US. I have to make sure the 2012 numbers in each county are up to date and then add the latest 2013 numbers to the spreadsheet. I guess they are trying to understand the evolution of the disease and how climatic changes year-to-year impact the virus and its carriers. Interesting stuff! If you’re interested in seeing the website where I’m getting the data, the US Geological Survey page is still up, even in the government shutdown (although it probably isn’t being updated): HERE