Monday, July 21, 2008
My Shameful Geography
The first course I had the opportunity to take was in college--taught by a lovely Hungarian man named Ferencz Kallay. Ferencz knew that my father was Hungarian, and he would chide me daily for not being able to speak what he considered my native tongue. He would also shake his head at me when I displayed my ignorance, which I did with appalling regularity.
"Yoolia," he would sigh, shaking his head. And then he would go on to tell us some fascinating geography-related tale, such as the one in which he insisted that when JFK made his famous "Ich Bin Ein Berliner" speech, the people of Berlin were secretly laughing, because in the context of their daily language he was saying "I am a donut."
Ferencz would tell us these stories and solemnly look at us through his round spectacles and wonder why we, his American students, didn't know more by the time we got to college. I wonder that, too. Sure, there are people with amazing knowledge of geography, but shouldn't we all have a pretty good feeling for the important places on maps?
I use myself as an example--and as a guinea pig. I found a random geography test online and took it, and I present myself shamefacedly now with my results: I got a 33%. I was hoping for better, but I'll bet Ferencz Kallay, who is now in heaven, is shaking his head at me and saying, "How could you expect more? You never study."
What I ask now is that you redeem the reputation of American schools. I can't do it--go on without me. Take the quiz and share your results, and meanwhile I'll download some maps.
click here for the quiz (created by Pam Robinson, posted on Growabrain).