Believe it or not, the students of one of the most prestigious universities on earth, Harvard University, struggled to answer a simple question: “What is the capital of Canada?” (Click to see the video). It should seemingly be an easy question to answer, considering Canada is right there, to the north and its capital, Ottawa, a short 125-mile drive from the U.S.-Canada border.
That’s what the Cambridge daily newspaper, The Harvard Crimson wanted to find out, whether or not the future leaders of firms, companies, their communities, city councils can name the capital of an American ally. To the embarrassment of the respondents themselves, they named anything else but the name of the city.
The answers ranged from the sincere “Uhhh, I don’t know… I have no idea”, “Oh my God… I don’t know” to unintelligent “probably Vancouver or something“, to the guessing answers “Is it Toronto?”, “Ontario”, “Quebec” (Really?!) to apologetic “I don’t know… I’m sorry, Canada”. Obviously, the students – who must have skipped geography classes – were basing their answers on what they have recorded with the backs of their ears over the years of high school. The word “Ottawa” may not have the tendency to sound as many times over ESPN, ABC or CNN as do the words Ontario, Vancouver and Toronto, but it’s still the capital of a big country. It’s tantamount to not knowing the name of your next door neighbor or a colleague at work.
Placing the question about the capital of Canada in a test as a prerequisite for admission to Harvard is in order.