I have always bemoaned that American educators spend too little time on Geography. I think it has had an enormous impact on many foreign policy mistakes and an overall lack of understanding of the world.
So I thought it would be a good idea to try to teach some geography to my students in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I knew out of the gates my lack of skills in cartography would be a headwind. But I soldiered on and we filled in most of the countries of Asia. Two big takeaways:
First, for 13 years old refugees they knew a lot about the locations of every country in the region.
Second, I probably couldn't have filled this map as of the start of this week. It was a humbling moment. It bothered me, my ignorance, but even though it took 45 years, I can now fill all of that map in myself.
Then I thought - why not draw a map of the United States?
As you can see, it was the cartography method known as "Bull in a China Shop."
So I asked these 13 year old kids from Myanmar a bunch of questions about the United States.
And then I mentioned Texas. I was trying to give my Texan friends a shout-out for their oil prowess. I asked these children: "Does anyone know what comes from Texas?"
A kid jumps out of his seat and says: "Very Big People." I laughed.
If I thought that would be offensive to a Texan, I might have corrected him. But knowing a few of my friends in Texas, I think they would view that as a compliment.