When you start nostalgically complaining about kids these days, you have officially become an old fart.
Kids have been flunking these gocha tests for at least 30 years and the world has not fallen apart.
If you haven't noticed yet, most people are ignorant. It's nothing new. Leave the dumb kids alone.
If it is the USA Today it must be true.
See, this is the only time when you're encouraged to stop "thinking about the children".
Internet? Think of the children.
Violent video games? Think of the children.
Porn? Think of the children!
History lessons? What're ya gonna do?
That said, I agree with @1, we were failing these tests when I was a kid and I have a hunch they've been failing since the mid-50s.
HALF missed #5? HALF?!
I only graduated from high school a year ago and that was standard required reading for everybody Freshman year! Even if you only read the back of the book you would get 5 right! Sheesh!
i'm actually stunned that the kids did so well. there's no effing way that around 75% of my high school classmates would have known who walt whitman was, or roughly 50% would have known what 1984 was about. congrats, class of '08, you kick the crap out of the class of '96.
I wouldn't have gotten the "Invisible Man" one. The % of kids who couldn't answer when the Civil War was is the most surprising, for sure.
Kids have been flunking these gocha tests for at least 30 years and the world has not fallen apart.
What do you think the chances that W would have failed to know this stuff when he left boarding school? Maybe you should be a bit more concerned.
The problem is that NCLB is all about test-taking, and not about learning or education.
I'm not as suprised by the Walt Whitman or 1984 questions. At that age, if it wasn't required reading in one of your classes, you're not likely to know it (obviously, this isn't true for all teenagers, but for "most people" I think it's true).
This would be more meaningful with some historical perspective. How many 17-year-olds would've correctly answered these, say, three decades ago? I'm not convinced the class of 1978 would've done that much better.
America has gone downhill since they cancelled Schoolhouse Rock...
I was given one of these gotcha tests in high school during the late 80's and deliberatly screwed it up (picked Canada as the location for the USSR was one I did and I said Augustus Caesar was the inventor or Caesar Salad Dressing.
I never take the results of these seriously. Niether should you.
I suspect we'd all fail similar tests of teen knowledge viewed from the prism of 19th century educational standards.
Are people going to yell at me if I ask someone to please post the answers?
At least for me, I always confuse 1984, Brave New World, Animal Farm and several other post-apocalyptic books with each other. Same for A Raisin in the Sun, Go Tell it on the Mountain, and the countless other African-American Northern Migration/Harlem Renaissance books. Do they get partial credit if they were close?
/P.S. Does SLOG not understand HTML underlining? I can get bold and italics to work...
Are those your answers?
But where are the ANSWERS!?!?!?
God, what a TEESE!
We have an educational system that emphasizes problem solving and "critical thinking", not facts, dates, and figures. There are few facts that are part of a mandatory cirriculum to graduate, even at elite schools like Harvard.
So that's what you get. One can be a constructive contributor society while not knowing any of the things above.
Kids these days, they don't even know how to use a rotary phone. I bet they don't even know how to erase their older sister's New Kids tapes to record themselves and their friends goofing off.
People are treating these questions like they're current events, when really they're just as much a part of history to the current younger generation as the Continental Congress or the Louisiana Purchase.
So ask all the old farts questions relevant to today's teens, like who was the author of Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture, or the names of the two perpetrators in the Columbine school shootings, or what the Y2K problem was, and check their awareness.
I drink your milkshake. I drink it all up.
A D B D G
i thinks so
When he left boarding school? I seriously doubt he could correctly answer most of these questions TODAY.
I mean, it's not like "No Child Left Behind" means "left behind smart people"...
Yeah, what are the answers? I want to know if I'm smarter! I took the quiz. I got ACBDB, but figured I was wrong about #2.
nice Will - 1800 to 1850 and the Missouri Compromise - I would have said 1850-1900 and Emancipation Proclamation but I'll bet you do better on Lou's important quiz.
BTW Y2K was more of a hype than a problem.
Yes We Can!
Lou - Gen-X? Who gives a shit? Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. Eric's psych files are still under lock and key in my office. Y2K? The difference between a 0 and a 1. Literally.
Why is the test you posted not the same as the one from the article? Where are the GD answers?!
You need a lot of proletariats for the system to work!
Correction: You need a lot of dumb proletariats for the system to work!
Comment 29 never happened!
Dude. People posted the answers. It's ADBDB.
As the doctor in Idiocracy said "I don't mean to be a dick or nothing, but...". I'm surprised that people on Slog are getting the answers wrong. These are pretty basic questions.
I have Google on my phone - why do I have to know anything? Besides when we've reached the least common denominator in dumbing down US society, you won't be able to abuse people with your intelligence, and bar talk will be reduced to the level of chewing gum for the ears.
Whether Augusta is the capital of Maine or George III's mother; whether Walt Whitman smoked or wrote "Leaves of Grass"; whether Louis XVI suffered from phimosis or guillotining.
It's all in your thumbs. Dumb is the new smart. Celebrate your know-nothingness. Drink Lethe...it's the new Coke.
Why is 5. A bold?
I had to guess on #4, got it right anyway. It's like asking who directed "Titanic" 150 years from now...
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it"
a. What color was Washington's white charger?
b. After what famous baseball player was Lou Gehrig's disease named?
c. Railroad crossing, look out for the cars. Can you spell it without any R's?
To my knowledge, exactly three people have ever seen EH's psych records. And we're not talking.
1984 is the one that came true, ala Big Bush, Osama Goldstein, and so forth.
To all those people asking for answers: YOU'RE ON THE INTERNET. Learn about Google.
really not shocking at all. as it has always been, a very small minority of the american (and global) masses will grow up understanding history, science, math, philosophy and language. anyone reading slog, as hard as it may be for SOME to believe, is in this minority.
If a train left Boston at 4:30 a.m. traveling at 78 miles per hour collided with a train that left Pittsburgh at 6:00 a.m. traveling at 90 mph, where would the survivors be buried?
Spoogie, you forgot the classic: Who's buried in Grant's tomb?
Edit: you need to assume a distance of 450 miles for #42.....
Sorry, i tried to memorize the answers, but my choices were actually different than what I wrote.
I got confused by the link to the test itself, which has different questions.
next time i'll write them down first.
And Columbus didn't try to discover America - he discovered the Carribean and was looking for China, so the question is triply lame.
I'm definitely in the "don't need to know the exact date of historical events" camp here. But, I do think knowing how long ago the white man "discovered" America to within the nearest 250 years is a good idea. Or, knowing generally how long ago the Civil War was (the question asks it in 50 year increments, which I think is fair). I mean, if you're walking around thinking that slaves have been free for only 50 years (answer F) or for more than 250 years (answer A), I think that's a problem.
who is walt whitman?
@20: Your "today's teens" are about 26-36 now, based on those questions.
@43 - Julia Dent Grant - a very ugly first lady.
@37 - Washington's horse was snowy, with hints of ecru; Babe Ruth gave Lou Gehrig his disease - fluids in the locker room or something similar - if you spell "it" with an R you get Rit dye - no longer very popular as people just hate dyeing.
And the dog ate your homework.
And ST2.1 will be held in February.
A: In the ground. But they'll still complain about it for a couple of days.
I always wonder about these "look how dumb people are" surveys. Are people giving stupid answers just to be smart asses?
@47, he's the guy that the candy sampler is named after. I think.
Nappy we need to know what kind of health care they had when the trains met.
@45 - so you're saying you don't know when Columbus discovered America with all of that erroneous logic. How could he have discovered the Caribbean - wasn't it there all along? China is in the cabinet - even on all three of his caravels. The island hit was Watling - now named San Something. He had red hair. "Admiral of the Ocean Sea" might be a good place to start - Samuel Eliot Morison - and sorry you won't be able to read it on your Dick Tracy watch.
General and Mrs. Grant.
And the answer is. . . .
War is Peace
Freedom is Slavery
*Ignorance is Strength*
The post reveals ignorance.
The thread reveals utter arrogance about ignorance. who needs a basic understanding of world history and culture, anyway? who needs experience? Who needs rationalism?
In reality this is all a sign of declining hope, declining fortunes and an underlyign complete cynicism that is all the more dangerous as it is vehemently denied.
I'm always torn about the idea of widespread historical literacy. On the one hand, I like the idea of people basing their decisions on previous precedent. On the other hand, the places where there's the most seething ethnic resentment usually know their history all too well. Witness Kosovo, the Shi'a/Sunni divide, and Southern Partisan magazine.
And if it weren't for my Adult Attention Deficit Disor
OH, LOOK! SHINY THING!
Some of you need the answers?!?!?!?
Now I know who buys all those "Dummies" books.
I distinctly remember back in the 80's the headlines were "Kids today don't know which half of the 1900's the Civil War happened." A bunch of people whose VCRs constantly blinked 12:00 lamented that my generation would fail because we weren't prepared for our high tech future. Today the people saying our young people are ignorant are the same old fuds who are helpless to clean the spyware off their PCs.
After you've been out of high school a few years, you'll have seen this same old Civil War chestnut dusted off a few times, and then you'll realize this is just a canard used by somebody with an agenda.
and Titanic was a film back in the black and white film days .... you mean the 2nd color sequel ...
Spyware? PC? what sort of code are you using.
@50 - how's your highways doing, by the way?
Yeah, didn't think so.
All your Buck Rogers is belong to me.
For unPC @59:
The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they allow disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children now are tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.
Why can't they be like we were, perfect in every way?
What's the matter with kids today?
Will, you are supposed to breath out the helium at some point.
I read the actual report found here: http://www.aei.org/docLib/20080226_CommonCorereport.pdf
I didn't trust USA Today. The study simply called 1,200 people 17 years of age.
How accurate is this? It seems that this report has more to do with a political agenda than anything else. That agenda, teach more liberal arts.
That's ok, but what is really lacking is a fundamental understanding of our government and legal system. Knowing who wrote a story for elite Victorian English people is nice, but not as important as knowing how to wade through our court system and government.
Americans know very little about civics, government and law. Folks have no clue how to find a law or even how to contact their government officials.
At a minimum, schools should show students where the legal statutes are located and how to read them, or how to contact their state senator. It isn't as difficult as people think, it's just not taught.
A telephone survey of 17-year-olds? If I was 17 and taking a test anonymously, I'd answer all of the questions as stupidly as possible. Then I would read the DANGER: DUMB KIDS! report and laugh.
(now that I've been flamed for trying to repeat the answer key from memory)
So who's this Ralph Emerson guy?
Admit it: the only reason people remember the date for Columbus is because of the rhyme "Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492." hehe (That is how the rhyme goes, right?!?...gah, I'm bad at providing any evidence that I know things.)
Alright. This is what always gets to me about this sort of test. The America-centric nature of them.
Who else but Americans could be this self-centered that nearly every question relates to their own history? From the sample questions listed, only two (the one relating to Hitler and the one relating to George Orwell) were from beyond North America.
I have heard that when Bush was elected, he had never traveled outside the states. If this is true, and if American history is the only history American kids are learning in schools, is it any wonder that the rest of the world is fed up?
@73, he was teh guy draw in those "where's waldo" books
Comte @ 24,
No doubt, but I wanted to draw an apples to apples comparison. This was a test of high school kids, not middle aged heads of state, after all.
But, what I want to know, is when was it that Jesus rode the dinosaurs?
Frankly, those numbers don't sound all that bad to me. The questions they put up on that article have students answering 5 out of 6 questions about 70%. So, more than 2/3 got them correct... that's hardly shocking.
Q. What happened in Dallas on November 22, 1963?
A. Dunno. I wasn't watching the show then.
Sure, it's dispiriting that kids don't know these facts, but I'm more worried about kids who can't read, discuss ideas, or do basic math.
I'm Canadian and I graduated in 1986. The one question I wouldn't have gotten as a teen was the Walt Whitman one, but I've learned the answer since then... by watching The Simpsons.
I HATE YOU WALT FREAKIN' WHITMAN... LEAVES OF GRASS MY ASS!!!!
@18: Yes, schools had been emphasizing critical thinking over random factoids (of course, standardized testing is changing that). A person who knows who to solve problems can learn facts for themselves, whereas a person who knows random facts still won't be able to deal with new situations.
Factoids:Critical Thinking::Giving a man a fish:Teaching a man to fish.
@ 83. I agree. As a current highschool student, I must say, we DO learn all these things in school. The problem is many kids aren't encouraged/ given critical thinking skills to learn outside of school. If you are learning a fact to pass next weeks test, it wont stay past last weeks test. I knew all these questions only because I read/learn outside of school too, so I learn in context, and the facts stay in my head. Its the same reason you can take a language 8 years and learn jack shit, while someone living in a country for a year will learn to speak fluently. Or why I never forget how to multiply, whereas I already forgot EVERYTHING from algebra 2 last year. I use multiplication. I've never had a chance to use algebra. You wont retain things if you dont have a context to put them in.
@75: I remember reading that about Bush too, way back when he first took office. I've never been able to verify it, and other people I tell about it think I'm wrong. I've come to the conclusion that I must have just read a poorly written article about his first trip abroad as president, not in general. At least, I HOPE that's what I really read.
I of course knew all of the answers today, and would have at 17, too. I don't know how telling it is that so many kids missed the ones about 1984 and the Walt Whitman -- I wasn't assigned Whitman until junior year and 1984 was assigned only in AP English senior year -- but its sad that so many missed the history questions.
I'm also not sure if I think it's particularly worrisome that most teenagers didn't know what "Invisible Man" was about. I didn't read that until I was about 22 and my friend's father was so surprised that I'd never read it that he grabbed his own copy and made me take it.
All that being said, I'm working on a project about NCLB right now, and I could rant about it for hours on end.
I remember reading the same thing about Bush-Mexico was the only foreign country he'd visited when he was elected President. Amazing that someone so privileged could be so incurious.
Hmmm as a Canuck I managed all but the poetry question. Which is kind of annoying as I never took American history but do have an English degree....
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