I’ve arrived at a conclusion. I believe that everyone, by the time they leave school at the latest (meaning end of Year 11,) should know the names and locations of all the countries in the world, and their capitals; approximately 195, give or take a few controversies.
I believe that this is an absolute minimum, rather than a goal in and of itself. I believe it from experience, having been someone utterly ignorant of nearly all other countries for so many years, having then been someone with that knowledge described above, and having thought at length over the difference that knowledge has made to the things that I am able to think, the manner in which I have been able to engage with things that I have read or heard said in conversation, in short, the difference it has made to what I consider to be my intellect.
It’s a fairly straight-forward statement, with a very simple, easily measured outcome. It’s not something we currently worry about teaching at all, and so rather than arguing in its favour, I actually wondered how many people would just agree with me, as they currently think, without any argument put forward, and how many would not agree that it’s something we should have as a goal within education.
I considered, therefore, asking for people’s thoughts, but then only a few tend to engage, so I thought it might be an interesting exercise to give voice to a much larger range of people; the opportunity to voice your opinion in just a few seconds.
So I’m going to ask whether or not you agree with the following statement:
“As a minimum, everyone should know by heart/from memory, by the time they leave school, the name and location of all of the countries of the world, and their capitals.”
The only caveat I shall make is that the statement about ‘minimum’ is important. What I mean by this, is that in agreeing you are not signing up to a meaningless rote exercise akin to memorising the first 200 dinosaur names:
Rather, it should be assumed that all people would be expected to know from memory the names and locations of all countries, and their capitals, and that in addition to this they will still be educated as to things like the history, culture, physical, sociological and economic features and so forth of a small subset of those countries, as is already the case in geography lessons. By the same token, if you want your response to be ‘No! They should have them all learnt much sooner than that!” then select ‘yes,’ There’s a comment box for refining your view; what’s important is that you think it should be done by some point.
I’m really looking forward seeing the responses, and from that, gaining some insight into the mindset of teachers and non-teachers out there!