The impressive skills of 11-year-old Akshay Rajagopal—the nation's new geography bee champ—are all too rare. In fact, lots of Americans are geographically illiterate to an appalling degree, writes Evan Sparks in the American. At some point, the nation decided to leave the subject out of school curricula. Geography, for example, is the only core subject named in the No Child Left Behind Act that does not receive federal funding.
Geography, Sparks writes, is more than arbitrary find-on-map tests; knowing the location, size, and basic makeup of other countries is a stepping-stone to learning and caring what goes on there. Unsurprisingly, geographic knowledge correlates with having a higher education level, frequency of travel, and interest in current events. Is it time to teach every child how to find Iraq? (Read more geography stories.)