Monday, September 24, 2012

Lack of World Knowledge

When it comes to what people know, the scariest part often comes from asking what young people know.

The World Savvy survey paints a butt ugly portrait of U.S. high school graduates, ages 18-24.
  • Two-thirds could not name the Prime Minister of Great Britain
  • Three-fourths could not name our biggest trading partner
  • Nearly three-fourths could not place Afghanistan on a map
Okay, some of these are tricky.  That second one above, for example.  You'd think it's China, but it's Canada.  Who the hell thinks about Canada except maybe in hockey season?

A copy of the big fat pdf report is here.  It's full of interesting statistics, some scary, some comforting.  Want comforting?  Eighty percent said they're interested in world events and 83 percent believe diversity is an asset.  Want scary?  Only half knew Libya is in north Africa and nearly half thought English was the most commonly spoken language in the world (correct answer, Mandarin).

Oh, and a final fun factoid.  TV is the biggest source of info (no surprise) but online newspaper sites were the second most named source of info (kinda surprising) and print newspapers were third (damn surprising).

The web site summary has some excellent points about the relationships between curiosity and knowledge about the world such important democratic behaviors as voting.  Well worth the time.

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