Current Maps – and Updated Priorities

It’s no secret that Americans, especially when compared to Europeans, are woefully ignorant when it comes to geography and history. Maybe it’s because for too long the world had to come to us. And there were those two continent-dividing oceans. As a result, we didn’t deign to speak other languages or bother to familiarize ourselves with other cultures.

In the global village and marketplace, it works to our decided disadvantage.

Now we find out that Hillsborough County, which is probably not a national anomaly, has lots of schools where social studies has to be taught without benefit of reasonably current maps and globes. Teachers have to improvise and sometimes use outside sources, such as local chambers of commerce, for supplies. And when push comes to shove financially, sometimes an FCAT subject trumps geography.

At Wharton High, for example, school maps haven’t caught up with the implosion of the Soviet Union or the unification of Germany. Don’t even ask about Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia or Zaire. Reportedly Siam, Persia and Prussia have, however, been updated.

One other point.

Up-to-date maps are no guarantee of up-to-date knowledge and frame of reference. World geography has to be made a classroom priority or else students will simply have better maps to ignore.

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