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The Alphabet of Nations

Remember Lilly, the two-year girl geography whiz? Ever wonder how little kids today get to be so geographically smart? I think it's because they have a new alphabet song.

From Here Come the ABCs by one of my favorite musical groups, They Might Be Giants, here is the Alphabet of Nations song: Hit play or go to Link [YouTube] - Thanks cracker!


Why do they sing it twice? And it doesn't really give kids a clear idea about where those countries are. Geography games are much more useful
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I'm not a fan of this type of memorization for children. It doesn't actually teach anything; it's like the small children who can name all of the presidents in order. That's wonderful that you can do that little Timmy, but now can you tell me who George Washington was? *blank stare*

Or similarly, the beloved Suzuki Method for learning music. As a musician, I hate that, because all it teaches children is to mimic what they hear. They don't have a real, fundamental understanding of the structure of music.

It's a neat trick on a superficial surface level, but it is meaningless when you dig deeper.
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About the 2nd comment: The memorization is also util. You can´t "understand" the list of presidents.

Today they only can thell the order. In fifteen years, they can tell who they are and the order.

The memory is not the only, but is very necesary and helpful to learn

About the post:

The best Country song is the animaniac´s

http://youtube.com/watch?v=IDtdQ8bTvRc

And they call at Sahara "Spanish Sahara", the real name.
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this is not the first time this has been done. i mean, they might be giants is awesome, but let's not forget the animaniancs nations of the world. that was my childhood entertainment with particle man on tiny toons.

can i imbed on here? lets try...
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Seriously, what is wrong with some of you people. It is a fun little song. Who cares if it produces some profound and life long appreciation of the ethnographic influences of Bulgarian cheese manufacturing on chimp trading in Mongolia. Why get your stuff in a twist? Are you seriously jealous of a three year who can perform a parlor trick?

Also, rote memorization is of value. Knowing the order of the presidents is essentially useless, just as knowing the "Alphabet of Nations" is, in a practical sense, useless. That is not the point. What is of value is establishing the neural pathways that facilitate the development of more complex memory functions. More importantly it is fun.

My kids love to sing this song, it is one of our favorite car ride chanties. I don't think TMBG were setting out to get five year olds onto Jeopardy. Its a cd about the Alphabet for cripes sake. They were just engaging in fun little mind game and rhyming some really nutty words. The follow up to singing this song for us is, "Ok everbody now its time for the Alphabet of Foods or the Alphabet of Farm Animals." Not trying to make geniuses just trying to get to grandma's house.
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@Betty: Nah, you're wrong about memorization. It's a much maligned education too. To be fair, memorization is often overused.

Nevertheless, it is a basic and important component of learning, especially for young children who have yet to develop analytical skills.
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Hey now, its not the only tool people should be using to learn, but its pretty darn handy. Especially with a song, its so much easier to remember facts and what not if you learn them in a song.

In fact, I can *still* sing all of the US states in alphabetical order! (a song I learned in 4th grade, i am now 27!) I can then take the map and label all the states and their capitals.... :)
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Won't a whole generation of children grow up thinking there's a country called West Xylophone in the middle of the Atlantic?

And whatever happened to East Xylophone? Shouldn't they get equal billing?
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Good comments from Eugenio, Patrick, and Alex. I'll add one thing: Memorization is NECESSARY BUT NOT SUFFICIENT. That is "engineer-speak" for saying kids DO need to learn memorization skills (for all the reasons the others posted), but it's not sufficient in itself to ONLY know memorized facts. But I've never heard anyone claim that ONLY memorizing facts is important! Who claims this?? Rather, it's just the FIRST step (and a continuing tool) to a life full of learning.

It's absolutely *necessary* that children know a lot of facts before they continue on the path towards better understanding. In the classical education model, it's termed the "trivium" (Latin for "3 ways") of Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric. The earliest stage (grammar) is most of this memorization and fact gathering takes place; from there, children learn to think creatively (Logic), and then express themselevs (Rhetoric). You need all three (!) to be well-educated, so yes, memorization is an important component. It only gets a bad rap from mush-headed "educators" (never trust a teacher who is too big for their britches to call himself a teacher) with advanced degrees in "Education" rather than core knowledge subjects, like language, history, science, or math. These dolts don't know a whole lot about anything themselves, so this disparage memorization because they don't like students more knowledgable than themselves. Your tax dollars at work in the world of government schools.
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A cute song, but hardly comprehensive. I second Eugenio's Animaniacs suggestion. "Yakko's World" is much better in terms of covering the countries of the world: http://www.neatorama.com/2008/01/23/the-alphabet-of-nations/#comments
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ROY G BIV reminded me:

I had to memorize the countries of the world for a test. The lunch break before the test, we made up "Very Carefully Ed Put Caustic Acid Up Pete's Big Bum" for South America, "My Mother Maliciously Said, Gee SL-ICk, Go To Bed" for the western coast of Africa, as two examples.
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Wakko's World is better indeed. This one, I wonder how they chose some countries over another. They seem to ignore all of North America lol.
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@Scott-
Yeah, I know the ROY G BIV one too, but as I'm a bit of an Anglophile (& history geek), I like the one UK kids know (Richard Of York...) better. It kills 2 birds with one stone -- I shall never forget he was defeated (by the Lancasters).

And what the hell is a "roy-g-biv" anyhow? Coming up with a nonsense word as a mnemonic is weak.
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