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Monday, January 18, 2010


Don't Know Much About Geography

He had a year to prepare, but he didn't.

Because, while my son has more than a passing interest in geography, he's not passionate enough about it to sit down and intensely study the subject.

He'd pick up information from reading books, magazines, and websites. Occasionally I'd find him casually perusing a map.

But I didn't lock him in a closet, threatening to take away his Wii games until he'd memorized every capital city of the world.

I left it up to him.

When the regional Geography Bee was held last week, he did his best.

And he blew away the competition.

Out of ten kids in the contest, my son answered 9 of 12 questions correctly. The next closest student only answered 5 of 12.

Now, before you congratulate him on being the Geography Bee Champion of 2010, let me just tell you one thing.

He came in second place.

But, how can this be?

How can a kid answer four more questions than anyone else and end up losing?

It's because of a little thing called Rounds.

Unlike the Spelling Bee, the Geography Bee features different rounds, after which all of the students start anew. No points carry over to the next round.

In the first round of his Bee, my son answered 7 of 7 questions correctly. The next best contestant only answered 3 of 7 right.

The crowd was definitely impressed with his performance. There was much buzzing and murmuring.

In Round Two, more of the same. My son was 2 for 2. An 8th grade girl was 1 for 2. None of the other students could answer a question, so they were eliminated, and we were left with the Final Two.

The Championship Round was now upon us. My son, pitching a Perfect Game, against the girl who didn't seem to know her geography very well.

And that's when the wheels fell off.

In this Best of Three round, they both missed the first two questions.

It came down to that last question. I was sure my son would know it. But his lack of preparation made it difficult for him to recall place names and border areas.

In other words, his ability to make an educated guess was severely hampered.

And that's exactly why he lost. The girl didn't know the answer to that third question either, but she made a better guess and came up with it.

So, my son learned a few lessons that day. First and foremost, if he wants to win the Geography Bee, he's going to have to do a little studying over the next twelve months. Hard work goes a long way toward ensuring you receive the rewards you seek.

But he also learned that sometimes life has rules we don't much like but still have to play by. You just have to make the best of the situation. Given the proper preparation and focus, I don't think it matters what obstacles are in your path. Most of the time you will succeed.

It's also said that success is the result of learning from failure. So, in a way, I'm glad that my son lost the Geography Bee. He came to me the next day and said he's going to put in more study time because he really wants to win in 2011.

Last week's failure might just result in next year's success!

Oh, I know what you're all wondering...

"What were the last three questions in the Championship Round?!?!"

Here they are, in order:

1. Gorky Park is in which European capital city?

2. After the United States and France, what country produces the most nuclear power?

3. What Mediterranean country sits at the end of the Balkan Peninsula and is the leading producer of cotton in Europe?

Do you know the answers without Googling them?


Anonymous Dana said...

Well, congratulations to your son! Passive learning isn't all bad, is it?

1:44 AM  
Blogger Idaho Dad said...

Very true, Dana. That might just be his best method of learning. Still, I'm not sure I want to tell him that. :)

1:59 AM  
Anonymous Jeff @BecomingABetterDad said...

I would have been 0 for 3 in the final round!

2:21 PM  
Blogger James (SeattleDad) said...

Great lesson.

Let me guess:
1. Russia?
2. Germany?
3. Georgia?

I have no clue if I am even close on 2 and 3.

2:31 PM  
Blogger Papa Bear said...

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe the answers are:
1. Moscow
2. China
3. Greece

And no, I didn't Google them.

5:04 PM  
Blogger The Father of Five said...


I know because my son was in the Geography bee here in our town!!

Those were the same questions that I heard!!

Second place is NOTHING to be disappointed with, it's an HONOR (and let's be honest... Question for question, your son won by a HUGE margin!)


2:20 AM  
OpenID joyceandnorm said...

Either way 2nd place is impressive if other questions were similar to the ones you posted there. Good for him!

2:27 PM  
Blogger Flea said...

Sometimes it's hard for a parent to see them learn lessons but it is also great for them to learn it so early in life!
Congratulate him for us, he's still a champ!

6:41 PM  
Blogger Idaho Dad said...


Papa Bear got 2 out of 3.

They are:

1. Moscow, Russia
2. Japan
3. Greece

1:29 AM  
Blogger brettdl said...

I guessed 2 out of 3. I thought 2 would be Russia, too.

We're a bit weak on the geography classes, as in none. I suppose I need to get going on those.

2:39 PM  

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