Where's Brussels?

Old Oct 8th, 2004, 10:01 AM
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Where's Brussels?

Idle curiosity here. (I'm waiting for a "service technician" to come to our house today. Sometime between 9 AM and 2006 I guess - - so I've got time and bandwidth to burn.)

Yesterday at a supermarket that deals with a local populace that is, generaly, pretty well educated (nearby university, good local schools, all that) I was party to a weird conversation. The woman in front of me was buying several bags full of sprouts, called "Brussels" sprouts in the US. Lord, she must love those things...

But anyway, the grocery checker said, "Why do you suppose they call them Brussels sprouts?"

To which the customer replied, "I dunno."

Checker: "Where is Brussels anyway?"

The person putting the groceries into the customer's shopping bag said confidently, "England."

The customer said, "Acutally, I think it's France."

Bagger: "No, I think it's England. I think English people really like them." To which the checker nodded knowingly.

I was just standing there and one of them turned to me and said, "Okay, you break the tie."

I told them it was the capital of Belgium.

"Are you sure?" To which I responded that yes, I was pretty sure, having visited a city named Brussels in Belgium on occasion. Can't rule out a village somewhere in Dorset called Pinchwing-under-Brussels, but I doubt it.

So it got me to thinkin' - does anyone teach geography to secondary school students anywhere anymore? My brother-in-law teaches 12-13 year olds (what a hero) and occasionally throws in some basic geography now and then, but according to him, not mandated.

And I don't think it's a North American shortcoming only - I see plenty of posts on Fodors and elsewhere by people from Europe, Australia, etc. that reveal profound geographic ignorance on their parts as well. IMO the implications of being geographically disadvantaged are self evident.

So how is it in your corner of Fodorland? Do schools mandate geograpy instruction? If not, do you teach your children well? Just curious.
Gardyloo is online now  
Old Oct 8th, 2004, 10:09 AM
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Can't answer your question about geography curriculum but once I told a co-worker that I was going to visit London and they responded "what language do they speak in that country?"
Hee_hee_hee is offline  
Old Oct 8th, 2004, 10:14 AM
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While it's not great that the grocery clerks don't know geography, I just wish they knew the names of the vegetables they sell! I rarely go through the check-out line without having to explain at least one vegetable...

How could they not know about Brussels though- hardly obscure!

elberko is offline  
Old Oct 8th, 2004, 10:16 AM
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Oh Gardyloo, what a story.

I used to travel with a friend who, after we had taken a two week drive from London to Edinburgh, told a client "Oh, I'd love to go to England! I've never been... I've been to London, but never England."

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Old Oct 8th, 2004, 10:25 AM
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I spent the early years of my life in Yokohama, Japan.
Amazing how many people think I am a native of Tulsa.
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Old Oct 8th, 2004, 10:28 AM
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Lordy, I am so old that I learned geography in a schoolroom with creaking wooden floors, a white-haired spinster for a teacher, and pictures of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln flanking the American flag.

By completion of the third grade, I knew the capitals of every country in the world, even Ottawa in Canada. We knew the major rivers, where they started and where they went. We knew the names of all the trees in our area, all the flowers, and most of the insects and birds.

Yet we knew nothing about e-mail, subatomic particles, and how to steal an election. This came later.

We knew how to cipher (a word we used to signify all kinds of math) in our heads. How to shop for groceries. How to grow a garden. How to saddle and ride a horse. How to shoot straight and what to do with a dead rabbit.

Talk about an education! I'll put mine at age 11 against most high school graduates in today's modern, "sensitive," and politically-correct world. As for the checkout clerk, consider this: he/she probably makes more than a starting teacher. And that's why we have problems with kids and their schools: we put our money where our stomachs are.
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Old Oct 8th, 2004, 10:31 AM
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elberko- i had to identify bok choy for a clerk just this week.

gardyloo- just this morning a coworker wondered what country Budapest was in.
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Old Oct 8th, 2004, 10:37 AM
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I too learned how to cipher a math problem AND parse a sentence!
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Old Oct 8th, 2004, 10:41 AM
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That's ok. A new EU map of the UK left out Wales. It is now covered by the Irish Sea. We now have another lost nation, sort of a modern day Atlantis.
Strange, I was there this summer, and above water.

As for Brussels, they sprout everywhere.
bob_brown is offline  
Old Oct 8th, 2004, 11:11 AM
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Hi G,

No. They do not require geography, many no longer teach it.
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Old Oct 8th, 2004, 11:16 AM
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About 3 months ago I went to Circuit City to buy a digital camera. I told the clerk I was going to Switzerland and asked if he knew whether or not camera shops there could download my memory card to CD. He assured me that there would be a place in Stockholm that could do that. I told him that Stockholm is in Sweden, not Switzerland. He then said it could be done in Belgium. I told him that Belgium is a country, not a Swiss city. He started to say something else, and I stopped him and said, with a friendly chuckle, "Just quit while you are behind."
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Old Oct 8th, 2004, 01:01 PM
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Check out Travel Misconceptions under the United States Board for more of the above.
kamahinaohoku is offline  
Old Oct 8th, 2004, 02:27 PM
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Would you know they never know Belgium Endive at my grocery Store. And why is it $4.00 a pound here(Socal),and 1 euro a kilo in France?
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Old Oct 8th, 2004, 02:29 PM
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Gardyloo, what a hoot !
But you're right on. I've had to shake my head sometimes too at the things I've been asked.

And Elberko, I've almost developed a phobia for holding up grocery lines because the checkers cannot identify the produce I'm buying. Worst still, even when you tell them what it is, they cannot find the name on the produce wheel that they spin to get the proper code. Corriander ? never heard of it. Cilantro, maybe ? Nope. Chinese parsley ? we don't have that. Finally I gave up, looking back at the 10 people behind me and said ok call it what you want. She said "How about if I ring it in as a cucumber ?" Since they were only 29c each that week, it was fine by me.
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Old Oct 8th, 2004, 02:46 PM
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Geography is taught in the local high schools but it is not called geography any more. It is Gobal Issues. The geography section is rather intense and graphically oriented. I've been a substitute teacher in classes. But, that does not mean that every student gat an A in the subject. The A students are probably at the University of Michigan majoring in one of the arts or sciences. Those at C or lower are bagging groceries.

BTW, Brussels sprouts are a great substitute for cabbage when you are cooking corned beef.

hopscotch is offline  
Old Oct 8th, 2004, 03:00 PM
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Our sons' elementary school (private) in St. Louis teaches geography over the course of many years. In 3rd grade they must label and correctly spell all 50 states and capitals on a US map. By 4th grade they know the continents and oceans. By 6th grade, they are taught on a global basis and are expected to know dozens of countries' names, capitals and locations on a blank map. They are taught longitude and latitude as well.
Of course, my husband and I also learned or relearned our geography through many a drill session with our sons!

I am stunned to hear that geography is not universally taught in elementary or seconday schools. At such challenging political times as these, we need to know as much as possible about our global neighbors.

padbrasher is offline  
Old Oct 8th, 2004, 03:05 PM
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Some years ago I asked my then boss for some days off to go to Puerto Rico. He said no problem and added -"So how long will it take you to drive there?"- Never mind we were in New York. He was dead serious. This from a top executive of a Fortune 500 company. He was sharp as a tack, but not in geography, mind you....:-B
Old Oct 8th, 2004, 03:20 PM
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Without looking them up, would anybody here know the answers to these for sure (Since we all know so much about geography, these shouldn't be any problem.)

1) Where is Sarawak?
2) What is the capital of Nigeria?
3) Where is Tegucigalpa?
4) What country lies between Ukraine and Romania?
5) What countries border Iraq?

I know I wouldn't know them all, though I do know where Brussels is.
KT is offline  
Old Oct 8th, 2004, 03:36 PM
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I'll take a shot.

1) Borneo/Malaysia
2) Lagos
3) Hmmm... Guatemala or Honduras, but I can't remember which for sure.
4) Moldova
5) Turkey, Iran, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Syria & Jordan (and maybe Armenia... lol)

Elberko, the other day I had to explain that they weren't radishes, they were red potatoes. Yumpin' yiminy...

They didn't teach specific geography classes in the 70's either... a shame really.
Clifton is offline  
Old Oct 8th, 2004, 03:42 PM
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) Where is Sarawak?
2) What is the capital of Nigeria?
3) Where is Tegucigalpa?
4) What country lies between Ukraine and Romania?
5) What countries border Iraq
Turkey, Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Syria and last but not least Saudi Arabia

I'm a geography nut, plus I used to work in the airline biz...where it does help to know your geography...
Katherine is offline  

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