Survey Finds Teenagers Ignorant on Basic History and Literature Questions

Sam Dillon:

Fewer than half of American teenagers who were asked basic history and literature questions in a phone survey knew when the Civil War was fought, and one in four said Columbus sailed to the New World some time after 1750, not in 1492.
The survey results, released on Tuesday, demonstrate that a significant proportion of teenagers live in “stunning ignorance” of history and literature, said the group that commissioned it, Common Core.
The organization describes itself as a new research and advocacy organization that will press for more teaching of the liberal arts in public schools.
The group says President Bush’s education law, No Child Left Behind, has impoverished public school curriculums by holding schools accountable for student scores on annual tests in reading and mathematics, but in no other subjects.
Politically, the group’s leaders are strange bedfellows. Its founding board includes Antonia Cortese, executive vice president of the American Federation of Teachers, a union that is a powerful force in the Democratic Party, and Diane Ravitch, an education professor at New York University who was assistant education secretary under the first President George Bush.

One thought on “Survey Finds Teenagers Ignorant on Basic History and Literature Questions”

  1. Let’s not focus on the students’ ignorance, please.
    The same test, given to the adult population of the US, would undoubtedly have the same outcome. If one wants an inkling of the sad state of the adult population’s knowledge, tune into “Are you smarter than a fifth grader” TV show. The level of utter stupidity of the contestants is more than shocking.
    Did you know that 25% of the adult population believes that the Sun rotates around the Earth?
    Only 22% know what a molecule is.
    56% believe humans and dinosaurs lived at the same time.
    52% believe that electrons are larger than atoms.
    46% don’t know how long it takes for the earth to go around the sun: multiple choice with the answers 1 day, 1 month, 1 year. For the men/women split: 58% of the women got the answer wrong, while 34% of the men got it wrong.
    72% of women know that the male’s gene determines a child’s gender, while only 58% of the men know this answer.
    (The above from the NSF Understanding Science Survey of 2001).

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