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Wiki-fu is love - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Wiki-fu is love
I'd written an education rant that I decided was just a repeat of everything I've said a hundred times, but in it, I'd talked about the globe game my mother had to teach me the geography I was missing in school (spin the globe, put your finger on any place, then open your eyes, find out what it is, and read about it). I missed that game, so I went and got an atlas and did Wiki-fu for a good, long session. I found out about Tuvalu and worries about rising sea levels, then flipped the atlas to another page and ended up in Greenland, which led to terra nullius (part of the article, involving the issue in Australia, is neutrality-disputed), which then led to Antarctica, and the fantabulous Lake Vostok, a hyper-oxygenated lake under 3KM of ice, which may support oligotrophic life, and leads to interesting speculations about life on the moon Europa, which...

:contented sigh:

How can so many people hate geography and fear it in Trivial Pursuit? This is my idea of really fun playtime.

Which probably means I'm a geek, but I take pride in geekiness.
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dreagoddess From: dreagoddess Date: March 17th, 2006 12:59 am (UTC) (Link)
Embrace your inner geek! I kick butt at Trivial Pursuit because I like that sort of thing. ;)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 17th, 2006 01:05 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, my inner geek is a well-loved and pampered thing. I loved the conversation in Spider-man when Peter's geeking out about trivia he knows about spiders, and Harry says, "What makes you think I'd even want to know that?" and Peter, totally non-sarcastically, says, "Who wouldn't?" I'm right there. I don't care whether or not I need to know about about microbes in Lake Vostok or mitochondrial Eve or pie-in-the-sky plans to send a sterilized probe to look for life in the oceans of Europa. I don't care if there's a really good reason to find out about Mars. I just like knowing the stuff. 'Cause it's all neat and everything.
jennocide From: jennocide Date: March 17th, 2006 01:16 am (UTC) (Link)
I love playing the globe game! I was always a geeky kid (and geography bee champ) and I'm an equally geeky adult who's as happy as possible when reading a national geographic magazine or flipping randomly through an atlas.

Did you see the movie "Tuvalu"? Very interesting and definitely odd.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 17th, 2006 01:22 am (UTC) (Link)
No, but the article mentioned it. I didn't hotlink, though.
dim54 From: dim54 Date: March 17th, 2006 02:03 am (UTC) (Link)
Geeks are really the best sort of people. :)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 17th, 2006 04:30 am (UTC) (Link)
Totally agreed.
gloryforever From: gloryforever Date: March 17th, 2006 02:47 am (UTC) (Link)

Geekiness as a lifestyle

I remember reading a long time ago a story in a magazine about this boy and how his father made a big deal of sharing what everyone in the family had learned at school that day. If only more parents - or teachers - took the time to show the kids that knowing stuff actually makes you cool, I think the world would be a much nicer place to be in.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 17th, 2006 04:32 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Geekiness as a lifestyle

Oh, yeah. Parents who take an actual interest make a difference. (As opposed to parents whose interest is seeing a low grade and going, "ZOMG! How dare you give my angel a low grade! She should get an A for existing!" Thank you, Aunt Petunia, you may go back to Privet Drive now... and stay there.)

Seriously? Parents make all the difference. A good teacher can't do a thing if the parents don't care what the kids are doing at school.
toastedcheese From: toastedcheese Date: March 17th, 2006 03:17 am (UTC) (Link)
Greenland fascinates me because it's, as far as I know, one of the very first places where Europeans and Native Americans (or at least Inuits) interacted. I'm deeply curious to know what their interactions were like and what they made of each other. Generally I love learning about any kind of fringe geographical territories, like sparsely populated islands or Siberian cities.

So no, you're not the only one.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 17th, 2006 04:42 am (UTC) (Link)
Greenland's wild. So's Tuvaru, actually. And Antarctica. Pretty much everywhere. There are places I wouldn't travel because it's not especially safe, but I can't think of anywhere I don't want to hear about. I've taken the opportunity of my internet participation--especially my LJ Friends Map--to have an excuse to delve into lots of places. Who knew the Faroe Islands were so cool? (Thanks, akashasheiress, for giving me a reason.) Genealogy twigged me to Kent, the West Midlands, Alsace-Lorraine, and Bavaria. A random, moderately interesting SF book called Kirinyaga got me going on Kenya (supplemented by later meeting a great friend who's Kenyan, so now I'm totally interested in stuff that happens in Kenya, as much as I am in what happens in, say, Idaho, at any rate). A tacky Tom Cruise/Nicole Kidman movie made me start going on Ireland. Really, anything at all works as an excuse. There's just so much out there. Anything that starts off the chain reaction makes me happy.
tru_jedi From: tru_jedi Date: March 17th, 2006 04:36 am (UTC) (Link)
you are most definately not alone!! I'm not a geography geek - i'm a history nut!! I took as many history subjects as my school offered/allowed (which wasn't nearly enough) and even that didn't satisfy my curiosity because by that stage the teachers couldn't teach me anything I didn't already know.
I may forget people's names 2 minutes after being introduced to them, and be absolutely shite at maths - but I can remember the strangest, most obscure trivia - i'm the trivial pursuit queen in my little social circle. I too take pride in my geekiness!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 17th, 2006 04:44 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, yeah. Amen. Best moment in Boston so far was accidentally stumbling across a re-enactment of the Boston Massacre, right on the actual site. It was totally accidental, but I got completely lost in it. (Entry here.)
sixth_light From: sixth_light Date: March 17th, 2006 04:48 am (UTC) (Link)
It actually scares me how much intelligent people don't know about geography. I distinctly remember having to show one of my friends where Israel is - and we're talking about a very smart girl. She just...didn't know.

As for life on Europa: that's what I'm training to find. Or Mars. I'm not fussy. Everyone should know about it. Then maybe they'll actually give space programmes enough funding to do something about it.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 17th, 2006 05:02 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, thank God, you're not American. I sometimes think we're the only people who have this problem. I had to teach students last year where your country is. I'm not kidding. I asked as a trivia question about the southernmost national capital in the world (of course, Wellington), and they said, "Where's that?" I said, New Zealand. They said, "Huh?" And I just bashed my head against the wall. These are bright kids at one of our better schools! Frankly, I'm not sure they could find Australia, and that's easier to see on a map. And I don't want to imagine them trying to find the state I moved here from, which would be even less familiar to them than New Zealand. New Mexico, after all, hasn't been in a big movie they were likely to have seen. (Me, I did a report on NZ in some primary school grade; the idea of not knowing where it is is totally alien to me. This horridness in the subject is of very recent origin. We didn't have a great education in it--hence, my mother's map game--but we at least knew where our allies were, for God's sake.)

Why is geography such a casualty of modern education? What's so horrible about learning where countries are? Why isn't this done in schools?

:plaintive weeping:
galaxianomiko From: galaxianomiko Date: March 17th, 2006 05:10 am (UTC) (Link)
I love games like that. :) We used to do one in my house where we had to write down all of the names of countries/cities from a region, and try to name the rulers...always ended up having to look half of it up, but what interesting stuff! Google makes this so much easier to play now.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 17th, 2006 05:13 am (UTC) (Link)
I know. I love the internet. My geeky self is in heaven being able to surf and check anything via hot link any time I want to. (Granted, if I want to be sure, I'll go back and check a book, but for casual knowledge... Ah, Wiki. My dear friend.)
threnody From: threnody Date: March 17th, 2006 05:36 am (UTC) (Link)
I am constantly baffled by this general lack of geographical knowledge. I can't remember ever not knowing where places are. Partly because my teachers would make sure we could identify a place on the map if we read about somewhere new, partly because I read a ton on my own and would go to the dictionary/map/encyclopedia if I didn't know about it.

When I was in French Immersion (this would be about Grade 6) we had Sciences Humaines, which was sort of a mixed geography/history subject- we'd learn about an event, and then the geography of the place where it happened. I hated it then, but looking back it's a pretty awesome idea.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 17th, 2006 05:51 am (UTC) (Link)

Honestly. My mother was scandalized by my poor geography education, but I did get lessons in the major exports of countries, blank maps of continents with the assignment to fill them in, and so on. Now... do they even take geography anywhere in there with teen pregnancy, drug abuse, civil rights, and how-to-protest-the-war?

All I want is for the kids to know where to look for countries they hear about on the news. Is that too much to ask?
(Deleted comment)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 17th, 2006 06:32 am (UTC) (Link)
Okay, so we have reports of lousy geography from three countries now. Part of me is relieved that it's not just an American thing, but most of me is just confused...
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(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Expand
greyashowl From: greyashowl Date: March 17th, 2006 06:32 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks to an aunt, by the age of 8, I knew pretty much the capital city of around 200 countries. Can't say I know them know but she would make us do things like that all the time and I loved it.
saturnial From: saturnial Date: March 17th, 2006 05:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
My geography knowledge is appalling - mostly in geography, we weren't taught about countries. You learn HUMAN geography. You do about volcanoes and earthquakes for about 3 years, and you'll perhaps study the capital of one country in 'depth' and watch videa Maybe you'll do global warming, and an indepth study of your local village - not very much get's taught at all. It's often on rotation with history. You don't learn very much actually geography.

sorry, this is a bit incoherant. I'm just trying to add my two cents (we're not actually taught anything resembling geography in english schools) without passing out of the keyboard...

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 17th, 2006 05:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, Lord, that just makes me weep. Much as I hate the U.S. being horrible at something, I was at least hoping that it was just a national fad, but it sounds more or less ubiquitous, the more I hear.
castaliae From: castaliae Date: March 17th, 2006 06:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
The Economist magazine sends its subscribers a little book of figures ie literacy rates, # miles of telephone wire in a country etc that is terribly fun to look through.
From: (Anonymous) Date: March 17th, 2006 06:55 pm (UTC) (Link)


Lurker here!

Just thought I would add that , in my school at least (girls grammar school in the UK) we where given maps of Africa and Europe to fill in , without the use of an atlas!
From: (Anonymous) Date: March 17th, 2006 08:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
Another lurker here.

When I graduated from high school about 5 years ago (in Iowa, known for its education), we were never taught geography. It just didn't exist as a course option.

In 5th grade, we learned US history to the Civil War, 6th grade was world studies and geography, but the teacher had you copy the map from the back of the book in class and you were never tested on it, 7th grade was US history to the Civil War, eighth grade was the Civil War to present day (but we stopped about WWII, because the year always ran out).

9th grade was US history to the Civil War, 10th grade was the Civil War to 1945ish (are we noticing a pattern yet?) and then a required government class that taught about the Constitution in 11th grade. There was no other optional additional government/geography class.

I have a good memory of events of the Civil War, and could probably place a lot more countries on a map than my classmates, but still...it's something that's really lacking in our education system, because I think a lot of schools put history over geography.
gloryforever From: gloryforever Date: March 20th, 2006 03:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
But ... but ... but! How can you teach people what happened a gazillion years ago without taking the time to point in a map where it was that it happened? I am convinced that history and geography would have to be taught hand-in-hand. Too bad the educational authorities in the countries of us commenting do not take a look at LJ posts.
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