What They Don't Know...

Bonnie Goldstein at Slate had an article last week titled What high schoolers don't know, complete with some of the questions that those students were unable to answer correctly. Most of the questions weren't too difficult for anyone with a modicum of education, but a surprisingly large percentage of the kids were stumped.

The article answers one burning question for us, anyway: When do people go from being informed to being ignorant? The answer appears to be "somewhere between 5th grade and high school," since the youngsters are able to run rings around adults on shows like "Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?" but by the time they reach high school, they know next-to-nothing about history or literature.

As Goldstein notes:
The test posed a series of questions whose answers even the slowest-witted high-schoolers might reasonably be expected to know. But only one question (Who gave the "I Have A Dream" speech in 1963?, Page 3), yielded the correct response on a near-unanimous basis (97 percent). Only 61 percent knew what the Renaissance was (Page 2), and only half knew why the Federalist papers were written (Page 3). Fewer than half knew when the Civil War was fought (see below). And this test was multiple-choice!
The Slate article has five pages worth of the questions, with the answers marked. Well, what kind of a challenge is that? If you want to find out if you're smarter than a high schooler, here is the link to the test from Common Core (.pdf file).

Note: I thought #11 was a trick question, as the guarantees of freedom of speech and of the press are indeed in the Bill of Rights, but since that is a part of the Constitution, I think that both of those answers should be considered correct. The only one that I wouldn't have known the answer for was the Ralph Ellison book, which I never read. I probably still could have guessed the right answer by eliminating others like Soul On Ice. I'll give myself credit for 32 of 33.