Thursday, September 28, 2006

Indiana, this is history..............unless you went to Berkeley, Stanford, Duke or Yale.

For some reason, these statistics does not surprise me in the slightest.

Out of 50 schools surveyed, Cal ranked 49th and Stanford 31st in how well they are increasing student knowledge about American history and civics between the freshman and senior years. Other poor performers in the study were Yale, Duke, Brown and Cornell universities. Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore was the tail-ender behind Cal, ranking 50th.
Remember that focus on Math and Science? Well, it seems like it is having the predicted impact on the Social Sciences, as college students are missing the historically relevant studies in their college lifestyles. I'm just not as shocked as others are at this article, which is being circulated at many sites on the net, including Right on the Left Coast (see links). I saw this a couple of days ago and it simply echoed something one of my exchange students told me on Monday. He stated that Americans seem very advanced in Math, but are very slow with Foreign Languages, and should be embarrassed about their lack of Geography skills. I concur, especially in regards to Geography. I had my International Studies students attempt to study and find 15 different locations in Asia. During a map quiz, less than 40% could successfully identify Israel, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Russia, China, Japan, North Korea, Philippines, and Indonesia. About a quarter couldn't plot half the countries. The foreign exchange student not only completed the required countries, but also completed the entire map.

Two of the examples that they stated were know the importance of Jamestown, and knowing Saddam Hussein's political party (Baath). College students should know the first question, but I don't see the Baath party as being THAT important, especially in this generation where the Baaths really don't exist any more.

Also, take a look at the election voter turnout numbers and it is easy to see why students don't feel like civics is important. With teenagers having more discretionary income than ever, having more access to media than ever, and being more active socially, civic responsibility is just not a priority any more. How do we change that? Once again, I think that school districts need to make school more important to the kids by extending the credits needed to graduate and implementing programs that instill civic and community pride.

Otherwise, get used to the 40% that vote representing you.



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