Americocentric (was Re: [asa] science education: Spitting in the eye of mainstream education)

From: Murray Hogg <>
Date: Tue Jun 02 2009 - 20:44:49 EDT

Cameron Wybrow wrote:
 (my impression being that social studies in
> the U.S.A. in most grades is heavily Americocentric).

Hi Cameron,

Just a couple of (perhaps) interesting, if not crucially relevant, reflections on this from an outsider;

My first trip to the States was a business trip - New York, Boston, Buffalo, Chicago, Seattle, Los Angles - at a time when the Mississippi was in flood, and entire towns along the river were underwater. I remember watching a one hour news broadcast in Seattle in which the first half was entirely dedicated to local news - the north-western states at the outside. When it got to the second half - at which point our news services in Australia would normally turn to news "in the rest of the world" - the news-reader began "now in the rest of the country." And only then did the fact that the Mississippi basin was underwater receive any coverage.

I simply can't overstate the degree to which it hit me: The US is a huge, huge place - a world to itself - with so much going on in the areas of politics, religion, business, agriculture, social issues, sports, weather, etc, etc that it's no wonder that foreign affairs get submerged in local events. Whereas minor US events have major local impact here in Australia, even major events here probably don't get minor treatment there - when we hear "Today US President Obama met with Australian Prime-Minister Kevin Rudd" nobody asks "who?" I still think the average American could be more informed about the rest of the world, but at least I now understand something of the reason why and can put things in some kind of perspective.

On the other hand (second story), when certain less than reputable visitors from foreign countries find it amusing to make misleading comments like: "Oh, yes, one has to be VERY careful to avoid the kangaroos when driving. Why I almost hit one in my street the other day." I suppose the misunderstandings become somewhat explicable...

Curiously, (third story) the best informed person I met was a young African-American guy - a waiter at the Buffalo Marriott. He had been in Perth, Western Australia with the Marine Corps. He was an incredibly nice person and knew a fair bit about my part of the world - far more than the business people I was meeting with, in fact. I guess it just demonstrates the old adage about travel broadening the mind. I know my time in the US has broadened mine!

Murray Hogg,
Melbourne, Austria

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Received on Tue Jun 2 20:45:12 2009

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