Do Americans know about other countries? - Page 4 - Mothering Forums

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Old 08-30-2006, 03:55 PM
 
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Originally Posted by kamilla626
At no point in my public education did I ever HAVE to learn the capitals, leaders, cultures or political ideologies of other countries. I did - on some level - through other contexts, while learning about U.S. though.

The small amount of "education" I got about other countries was mostly pre-America history. The Mayans, Incas, Ancient Egyptians, Vikings, Ancient Greeks, etc.

But at the point in history when America was "discovered" (and don't get me started) my education about the rest of the world was pretty non-existent. It's as though the rest of the world ceased to exist once the USA was "built".
: although I did have to learn some of the capitals, cultures, etc. in World Geography (a course I chose to take in high school...we were required to take either World History or World Geography; I took both.) and learned some of the other stuff while learning about the various wars in which the US participated. It was all still a very US-centric view of things, of course, and I am taking it upon myself to learn more about the rest of our world. It's a slow process, and the public school system didn't do much to help me, but I don't have to be in school to learn.
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Old 08-30-2006, 04:56 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Nurturing Mama
No, it's not. It's an ignorant stereotype about Americans. My sixth grade history class, American history, covered the history of all of North and South America. My seventh grade history class was called "Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia," and my tenth grade history classes were "World History I" and "World History II". We also were handed blank maps of the world and filled in every country, ocean, sea, and many rivers. My education occurred in three different states, and world history was taught in all three.
It depends on the school system. In mine we only had American and state history and they did a pretty piss poor job of that too.
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Old 08-30-2006, 05:00 PM
 
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Originally Posted by crissei
Originally Posted by umsami
No. The average American is clueless... not only about other countries, but their own.

Case in point. My freshman year of college, my roommate asked me if I had to get a passport to visit Hawaii. BTW, she was an education major. Ended up getting her Master's and teaching 6th grade.

(this hand needs to be MUCH bigger!)
I can top that. My freshman year roommate asked if London was in England. I mean, she had an inkling it was but she needed to make sure. This was at an Ivy League college and she had gone to a reasonably prestigous private school for two years of high school.
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Old 08-30-2006, 05:02 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Linda on the move
I find it funny that so many people are complaining about how American sterotype people from other countries, and then turn around and sterotype Americans.
I was going to post the same thing!
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Old 08-30-2006, 05:03 PM
 
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BTW, this isn't about hating Americans, and most of us making these comments are American. One can be self-critical without being self-hating. Russians make jokes about themselves all the time and certainly criticize their own without anyone worrying about patriotism (and most are very patriotic). It's not a big deal.
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Old 08-30-2006, 07:23 PM
 
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I think that most Americans don't know about other countries. And I admit, even as a child of immigrants (I'm 1st of the 1st gen. born here) I am guilty of it, too.

DH had to teach me a lot about his homeland (mexico) because most of us believe what we hear/see in the media-that everyone is poor and picking through garbage, wants to come work illegally and are short, dark mayan decendents. So not true-DH often gets mistaken for being Spanish or European, not Mexican.

My family is Polish, and I was very offended by my BILs family when we went to Poland for my sister's church wedding there. Throughout the 5 hour bus trip to our family's village, I heard countless remarks about how they were going to be eating kielbasa for a week, how vodka comes out of the tap and countless Polish jokes. What was wonderful was how after a week of wedding festivities & traditions, I was happy to hear that everyone's opinions had changed and the comment that I heard the most was, "This has to be the best vacation I've ever had! Everyone is so giving and friendly!"

On the other side of that, I had a cousin who came to work for a summer on a J1 Visa and was under the impression (literally) that jobs would be calling him. They see the more decadent side of life from the US because of unrealistic shows like Friends, etc where 20 somethings could have jobs working in a department store but afford a 2000 square foot apartment in Manhattan, sit around and drink coffee all day, etc. He soon found out that not only do most of us work, but we work REALLY hard for what we have and that we don't party 24/7!
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Old 08-30-2006, 09:03 PM
 
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other countries?
not much.

i've lived in europe for almost 15 years and i definitely see the ugly american attitude, lots of young backpackers funded by mom's gold card who talk about where they got smashed last night and how cheap it is, before they head on a train to the next big city for 2 nights - but I also see the americans who take pains to learn the local language, follow the national issues, respect cultural attitudes, and delve deeper into the society.

but in general i have to agree, we americans by and large are woefully ignorant of our own country, other countries and languages, cultures, politics, etc. Those living in big cities have great exposure to all different ethnicities, and that is where I initially learned about other plaecs - not in school. I agree that the educational system is not ideal in this regard. I think we had one year of international study in social studies in 7th grade. I was never offered anything outside of US history in high school.

I also believe the media is biased and mostly unsubstantial. CNN is a propaganda mill and most US papers read like tabloids. If i want to find out what's going on in the States, I read European news sources. Still this doesn't excuse us from the responsibility to learn a bit about other places outside the US. I find when I'm in the States that people around me tend to discuss television/pop culture more readily, excitedly and with more knowledge and interest than reality, and I am always stunned by it.
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Old 08-30-2006, 11:05 PM - Thread Starter
 
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repeat post..
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Old 08-30-2006, 11:09 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bczmama
Additionally of interest -- American's come in #2 as "best" tourists...(http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/2137729.stm)

The money quote: "Americans were judged the most courteous and the British the rudest, alongside the Russians and Canadians."

Okay, a second money quote: "The Brits also seemed to make least effort in speaking the local language, a quality excelled by the Germans, French and Americans."
So this says what about how much knowledge American's have about other nations?..The knowledge extends as far as stating the differences and compraing countries to the US???
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Old 08-31-2006, 03:57 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aprilushka
BTW, this isn't about hating Americans, and most of us making these comments are American. One can be self-critical without being self-hating. Russians make jokes about themselves all the time and certainly criticize their own without anyone worrying about patriotism (and most are very patriotic). It's not a big deal.
I disagree. I think it is a big deal to "validate" these stereotypes and pass them on as truth. And that goes for sterotypes of all countries. Although I am sure I have done my share of stereotyping, it's not something I am proud of. I have traveled alot, both in the United States and abroad. I have been pleasantly surprised to see how different each country or region was than my original perception.

We should be trying to get away from stereotyping, IMO.

Mama to my spirited J, and L, my homebirth: baby especially DTaP, MMR (family vax injuries)
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Old 08-31-2006, 09:43 AM
 
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i am an immigrant. and honestly i feel the newspaper tells all like someone mentioned before. i am using the newspaper because when i first came here that is what caught my eye. it was just something i immediately noticed. not necessarily that i was looking for this difference.

first by how international news is reported - if it is. it always has something to do with the US. for instance the headlines would cry (cant think of a real eg) plane crash in china - two americans dead. instead of planecrash in china 250 feared killed.

the other things that caught my eye was how the news was reported (in most times not always). the major headlines elsewhere is more about what major happening is going on in the world. and i notice whilst other newspapers used that as their headline, it would be a byline in here. growing up with BBC news the difference was always v. eye catching to me.

the other thing that strikes me in general is the lack of interest of finding out something new. again this does not apply to everyone here. but i definitely see it here than where i grew up without the internet. if some place unfamiliar appears in the newspaper here people ignore it unless it is a major event in the world like the tsunami and the media has a map for them.

when i have conversations with others (again NOT everyone) here - something i noticed right away when i first came here - was that i could not just talk to a person on the bus about world events (either history, or current events or politics) as i could back home. one of the comments i get all the time was wow it was so informative to talk to you. mind you i wasnt even talking about the country i grew up in but in general about asia.

the thing i notice most here is that the people who know know a LOT and the others either know v. v. little (at least knows of its existance) if anything at all. there is no group here (in my limited experience because i always talk - it always turns to world events or questions about my country because of my accent) who kinda have a fairly good hold on their knowledge about other countries.

it is v. telling when you are at any international airport and looking at the front page headlines of a number of major american and european newspaper - how different the approach is between US newspapers and the european say talking about the latest floods in asia.

where i grew up it is true for many what they think about american life is from beverly hills 91202 (is that it?) or oprah or baywatch or even the soaps bold and beautiful - yet they can also tell you about abraham lincoln, benjamin franklin and the boston tea party.

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Old 08-31-2006, 10:08 AM
 
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This is a very interesting thread. I have to admit that before I moved to England from the US I was very very ignorant about the rest of the world. I guess it depends on the kind of people you hang out with tho, what your parents are like etc. In school, we never learned anything about other countries. We had something that was called world history but I retained nothing. The reason I would say 'yes' to the original question is based on personal experience tho I guess. I didnt know anything AT ALLLLLLL about Cananda before I moved to England!!!! I dont know if its different in other parts of the US but in Cleveland Ohio, which is very close to Canada, I never learned or talked about or heard anyone ever talk about Canada. As for Europe, it was all stereotype and as for the Middle East, a favourite quote of some people I knew was 'BLOW 'EM UP!' or 'Let them blow each other up'. All this before 9/11. I also learned that the world didnt revolve around America and Americans. I also did learn the attitude towards americans or america is very mixed. Some who have traveled to america say we are the nicest people. We really serve our visitors and make travelers feel special. Also that America is very generous. The other attitude that I have encountered is that Americans visiting other countries are very arrogant and that Americans think the world revolves around them. I have thought alot about this since leaving America about 6 years ago. It was a shock to me to see that the world didnt revolve around America. :
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