June 1st, 2008

The lack of geographical knowledge in society amongst the post baby boomer generation was highlighted to MiSay recently by a bright ‘thirtysomething’ year old. The X gen in mind had just watched a television program featuring flood plains in Botswana and the effect on wildlife. Asked two minutes later where the country featured in the documentary was the answer came, “oh somewhere. Dotswana I think”.

Now I will grant you Botswana is not the most important nation state in the world in economic and strategic terms. Botswana’s land mass and population is only about 7.5% of those of Australia.  Nevertheless, Botswana, and it’s people, are part of our glorious world which we should all be proud of and knowledgeable about – it’s where we live!

Geographical knowledge helps make world citizens of us all, an increasingly relevant requirement in a rapidly shrinking world.
Although knowing the capital of Botswana may not prove that you’re going to be a success in the twenty first century, it is vitally important to know the world around us.  In order for the world to survive any number of potential and real threats the more we know about where we live the better we can relate to our neighbours.

Part of the problem may be that in the information technology world of today it is so easy to obtain basic facts on a need to know only basis. Within seconds one can access all the bare facts on Botswana via say Wikipedia, so the question arises why bother to learn and memorise such detail? The answer, of course, is that learning and absorbing such material, coming as it would with historical and other socio-economic data, helps to put not only Botswana and Africa, but the whole world into context.

This seeming lack of context is perhaps one of the great flaws of today’s younger generation.  Readily able to Google information gives them no depth of understanding as to why we are where we are – essential information if we are to proceed into the future beneficially for mankind.  It is the equivalent of trying to fathom the last several pages of a novel without having read the preceding chapters and then endeavouring to imagine how the plot could have developed.

Nonetheless, mankind is constantly optimistic – perhaps we will see the light and ‘the Republic of Dotswana’ mindset be deleted over time. – MiSay

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