Thursday, September 20, 2007

How much do we know about American Civics?

The Intercollegiate Studies Institute, a conservative education think-tank, regularly puts out a list of US universities who perform a great disservice to students by not reinforcing the lessons learned in previous grades regarding US History and Civics. I've always considered Civics to be sort of a catch-all category, as it takes lessons from history, economics, and government classes and puts it all together to show the effect of these things on a US citizen. It can get watered down sometimes. Anyway, ISI has put up the Civics quiz they gave to college freshmen and seniors. It's 60 questions, multiple choice format.

Take the quiz.

I missed 1 out of the 60 myself, the question regarding the Federal Reserve purchasing government bonds. I scored a 98.33%. The average Harvard student? 69.56% for the average student there in regards to the basic knowledge of our nation.

Thankfully I didn't miss any in the American History section. The sad thing is that the history and current events and basic economics in this quiz should be known by heart to college freshmen. They should know the philosophical foundations of the Founding Fathers, and why it led men like Thomas Jefferson to write the Declaration of Independence. They should know what problems occurred during America's first years that led James Madison write the Constitution. This history is our inheritance. It's our precedent to know what to do and what not to do to make our nation more successful. This is one of the reasons why I wanted to be a history teacher when I was in college. If I could make this knowledge second-nature to every student of mine, I'd have given them a foundation to know why our United States are great and why it matters for us to preserve it. I don't think that's what schools are looking to pass on to students these days if this basic quiz is any indication. It's almost like we spend more time praising those who dissent without ever looking at the cause for the dissenting opinion. Only half of the story is told, and when that happens ignorance reigns.

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