In Sam Cooke’s classic 1959 hit “Wonderful World,” the lyrics downplayed formal learning with lines like, “Don’t know much about history . . . Don’t know much about geography.”
Over a half-century after Cooke wrote that lighthearted song, such ignorance is now all too real. Even our best and brightest — or rather our elites especially — are not too familiar with history or geography.
Both disciplines are the building blocks of learning. Without awareness of natural and human geography, we are reduced to a self-contained void without accurate awareness of the space around us. An ignorance of history creates the same sort of self-imposed exile, leaving us ignorant of both what came before us and what is likely to follow.
In the case of geography, Harvard Law School graduate Barack Obama recently lectured, “If we don’t deepen our ports all along the Gulf — places like Charleston, South Carolina; or Savannah, Georgia; or Jacksonville, Florida . . . ” The problem is that all the examples he cited are cities on the East Coast, not the Gulf of Mexico. If Obama does not know where these ports are, how can he deepen them?