Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.
Are we Americans becoming disconnected from our roots? A recent article in the Wall Street Journal expresses concern that Americans are not learning about their nation’s history. The lead paragraph states that, “A majority of U.S. college graduates didn’t know the length of a congressional term, what the Emancipation Proclamation was, or which revolutionary war general led the troops at Yorktown.”
Citing a study by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, the article notes that of 1,098 four-year colleges and universities surveyed only 18 percent require American History to graduate. Only 13 percent require a foreign language and 3 percent economics. Michael Poliakoff, director of the survey, blamed “the lack of a rigorous core curriculum” for the poor showing, adding “It’s like saying to a lot of 18-year-olds the cafeteria is open, you kids just eat whatever you like.”
In 2009 a study by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute found that a majority of 2,500 randomly selected Americans (71%) could not come up with the correct answers to 33 basic questions on civic literacy. The average score was 49%…. a solid “F”. A Gallup poll found that four in five Americans (83%) could not name the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and that 31 percent were unable to name the current vice president of the United States.
This “whatever” approach to History and current events should be of great concern to us. Our roots, individually and collectively, determine who we are. It also has an economic impact. The Wall Street Journal article points out, “employers complain that graduates are entering the workforce without basic skills such as critical thinking.”
Our knowledge of history and current events not only comes from formal education, it grows with what we read in newspapers, magazine and books. It is enhanced by our engaging others in discussions. It is motivated by an interest and curiosity about the world around us.
If you want to test your own knowledge of history, here are a few questions. The answers are found at the bottom of the page.
- During which war was the White House destroyed?
- Who assassinated Abraham Lincoln?
- In what war was the Battle of Long Island fought?
- Which president established Social Security?
- What was the date of D-Day?
- What countries are members of NAFTA?
- The Statue of Liberty was a gift from what nation?
- Who was the only president elected to a fourth term”
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
- 1812; 2. John Wilkes Booth. 3. Revolutionary War. 4. Franklin D. Roosevelt. 5. June 6, 1944 6. U.S.A., Canada and Mexico. 7. France. 8. FDR.
This post is also available in/Esta entrada también está disponible en: Spanish