Professor says students can't identify continents on map

A professor at Memorial University says her students desperately need to brush up on their geography.

In September, Judith Adler gave students in her Sociology 2270 class a pop quiz – something she now requires her students to pass in order to pass her course.

The course studies sociology of the family, and Adler teaches the material from a cross-cultural perspective.

"I've assigned work on families in Africa, families in Asia, families in South America. And for many years, I just took for granted that if I talked about families in Africa, that my students had a visual image of where Africa was," she said.

Adler decided she had to make sure her students knew the locations she was talking about. She handed out a blank map, and gave her students simple instructions: Identify Europe, Asia, South America and Africa.

"The results were really mind-opening to me," she said.

"They should not be confusing Antarctica and the Arctic, and they should know that they live on the Atlantic Ocean ... and they should be able to know where North America is."

Adler described the test as extremely elementary, adding she's had to make it even simpler over the years. This year's results were no less shocking.

"The Atlantic Ocean is labelled as the Mediterranean Sea; Africa is circled and labelled as Europe, with Spain and Italy being put in the middle of Africa," she said.

Adler said she can't believe her students' lack of knowledge when it comes to geography.

"The revelation of how the school system here has completely dropped geography from young people's education has been very striking to me," she said.

Adler is calling on the university to be more proactive.

"I think that the entering students should be tested on elementary knowledge, and they should take a remedial course if they don't have it because the rest of their education depends on it."

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