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

From: gordon brown <Gordon.Brown@Colorado.EDU>
Date: Tue Jun 02 2009 - 21:40:02 EDT

On Wed, 3 Jun 2009, Murray Hogg wrote:

>
> 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!
>
> Tschüss,
> Murray Hogg,
> Melbourne, Austria
>

Murray,

In the US the local news and national/world news are usually two separate
programs which run consecutively. The former is the product of the local
station; the latter is the national network program.

Most of what I know about the Australian government I learned during the
hour that I spent wandering around in the Parliament Building in Canberra
looking at the exhibits. I presume that most Australians can achieve a
comparable level of knowledge about the US without ever leaving home.

Gordon Brown (ASA member)

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Received on Tue Jun 2 21:40:44 2009

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