As reported in today’s Ottawa Citizen, a roving reporter for the Harvard Crimson had little trouble discovering an awkward lack of geo/political awareness among some students on campus.
Confronted with the challenge of naming the capital of Canada, only one could get it right.
And that student was… Canadian.
Here’s the video that went along with the question.
The poor dears.
In some respects, stories like these are too easy. Who doesn’t like to poke fun at Ivy Leagues and feel equal-to or better-than, given the chance? So I’ll come clean and admit that when my own family first considered a job transfer to Ottawa, we had to look it up on a map. We knew it was in Ontario, and it was the capital, but the “where is that?” part was decidedly fuzzy. (Sort of like Canberra. Which is somewhere in Australia, obviously. But where, exactly?)
So, here’s my question, or several questions. What’s happening? Is this state of affairs because schools don’t require that sort of rote memorization anymore? Is it because of smart phones and search engines? (Why clutter your head with details that are one click away?) And does it signify? Is it that important to carry basic facts in your own brain cells, or is that sort of subject mastery not worth much anymore?