Monday, May 7, 2007

Those Who Don't Know ...

All kinds of knowledge matters. Science. Math. Public affairs.


Seems to me history is kinda important given the old saying: Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it. In just about every topic except maybe how to use MySpace, U.S. kids suck at tests of knowledge. History is no different. A few high points from a recent survey:

  • 23% thought JFK was the one who lamented that he had only one life to give to his country.
  • 63% could not name in what war the Battle of the Bulge was fought. I'm guessing yet another example of obesity influencing our kids.
  • 7% thought Sputnik was the first animal to travel in space. Everyone knows his name was Mr. Spock.
  • 65% of college seniors could not pass a high school history test.

Feel smart? Take it yourself.

So what's going on? Is it the No Child Left Untested? Are kids just dumber today? Are we busy teaching them the test for math and reading that history gets shortchanged? I dunno, but I can say from watching my public middle school kids that "social studies" is the weakest subject area. Any inadvertent exposure they used to have to the news is largely gone and replaced by a thousand other ways to stare at cell phones or check their personal web pages.

Knowledge of history matters. Here's my favorite "history" quote: Our ignorance of history causes us to slander our own times.

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