Prof. William Puzo's quiz at Cal State Fullerton ("Geography Quiz Maps Gap in College Knowledge," Part I, Nov. 17) does indeed reveal the abysmal lack of geographic knowledge of our college students. The geography scandal is real, but it does have causes, and they are worth examining. It also has remedies, and they--like all prescriptions in education--will take time.
Our students are not learning geography in our schools because it is, by and large, not taught. Most elementary teachers in California have not taught geography in any systematic way for at least 15 years. The reason is that geography--and several other subjects--were crowded out by the demand for saturation teaching of minute skills in reading, writing and math. This particularly ineffective "reform" has now passed, and it is time that the public demand that science, health education, the arts and the social studies--including geography--be returned to the elementary school day. It is already beginning to happen in some school districts.
A separate high school course in geography is one proposed solution. I find it a little simplistic. High school students need to relate their history, government, culture studies, economics (and science and literature) to geography. It makes better sense on the secondary level to teach geography along with these subjects than in a separate course.