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Old 07-25-2012, 09:23 PM
Location: Beautiful Niagara Falls ON.
10,016 posts, read 12,522,973 times
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I got all ten correct and the funny thing is, I'M NOT AN AMERICAN!!! LOL

Anyway, last week I was working at a kids camp just outside of Thunder Bay Ontario. A group of about 20 kids, 17 and 18 years old from ND showed up to help out.

I got two 18 year old girls as my helpers. They were great workers and really nice kids but my oh my they didnt know much. They had never heard of the city of Winnipeg or even the province of Manitoba. I was so astounded I asked them if they would mind if I asked them a few questions about the USA. They did not know what state bordered theirs on the west. They knew the eastern border state at least. They knew Washington was the first president but knew none after that until Clinton. They knew very little about any American history or geography.

About Canada they knew nothing at all. They did not know we had a Queen and were very shocked to find out we do.
These were really great kids giving up a week of their summer to help out poor native kids and I can only surmise that their ignorance is the fault of a really bad education system.
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Old 07-26-2012, 12:21 AM
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It's tough to blame the kids. I have a feeling that many of their parents don't know the answers, either. Unfortunately I don't know how much we can really expect schools alone to change things when (some) kids enter the classroom so uninformed about the world around them. It doesn't help that the United States is so incredibly divided. If your group of ND kids, for example, all live in a community where all their friends and neighbors (and parents and adults of the community) are all equally disadvantaged (culturally and intellectually, even if not economically), then it's going to be an uphill battle for the school and its teachers to overcome that.

If it makes you feel any better, I took a Canadian history class (well, technically History of the Americas, but obviously Canada is an important part of the Americas!) in my Minnesota high school.
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Old 07-26-2012, 03:19 AM
Location: Los Angeles, Ca
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What's terrible is, how much time you spend in the classroom. 7-8 hours a day. 9 months out of the year. For 12 years??

You wonder what they're doing all that time, if only 20% know the first president. What have the other 80% been spending time on?

You can laugh at Jay Leno's jaywalking and morons on the street. But they've been out of school for years.

-I think some of these "results" are the lack of higher level thinking (i.e. like debate). Wasn't debate more popular 40 years ago? All this rote memorization leaves your mind soooooo unengaged. Its like trying to stick something to a weak piece of paper.

-On another note. Doesn't it seem awfully convenient that kids don't know history at a time when history is repeating itself (in bad ways). I.e., the economy, banking, the FED. Mistakes made. Taxpayers on the hook for mistakes made. Gee, you aren't going to understand much if you don't understand the past.

I wonder how accurate and good the history books are. You'd think by now, schools would be partnering with Amazon, Google, other vendors to give kids great historical books and resources. You'd think accuracy would be going up, the resources you have now are much higher than 40 years ago. It doesn't look like it.
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Old 07-26-2012, 07:42 AM
Location: Middle America
37,409 posts, read 53,273,112 times
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Part of the reason is that civics aren't particularly emphasized in the core curriculum that is tested to determine how much money the government should give schools. The way things are currently set up in public ed, the subjects that the states deem worthy of being tested are going to be the ones that are focused upon most heavily, and everything else is catch as catch can.

Now, there are ways around this...you CAN teach the core curriculum via lessons on government and civics...but many teachers don't really think of that. I got an odd look more than once, doing a "history lesson" in a reading class. It always struck me as odd why that would be... obviously, the students were learning to extract information from primary and secondary sources, summarizing, finding main ideas, being monitored for comprehension, learning new vocabulary, gaining in fluency...all core reading skills. The subject matter might as well have been something that was getting sorely neglected in other areas. But people like to compartmentalize. Really, learning needs a more cross-curricular approach. Students tend to retain knowledge better when it is applied across the curriculum.

I would unfortunately imagine that a great many ADULTS can't answer all the questions posed at the top of the list. Even those who studied it in high school.
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Old 07-26-2012, 07:52 AM
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My hunch is that ignorance about Civics is a function of several things:

1. Schools emphasize Math and English because of their importance to NCLB and standardized testing. Many other courses have gone by the wayside.

2. Resources left over generally go to Science because of its importance as a subject.

3. The courses that many of the kids are interested in are Physical Education, Choir, and Band. Maybe knowing something about their country ought to interest students, but it doesn't.

4. There is a cynicism among many young people today about our institutions. Rightfully, or wrongfully many young people don't see our system as working for them. I don't expect this to get any better unless our economy makes some dramatic improvement. This cynicism leads to an apathy where they don't care much about their government or how it was created.

5. I love history/civics/government and majored in both Economics and Political Science when I went to the University. However, I think it is true that Civics is a less important subject than English, Math, or Science is. The whole situation is beyond sad. Its almost criminal.
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Old 07-26-2012, 09:16 AM
Location: On a Long Island in NY
7,801 posts, read 10,064,572 times
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The focus of education nowadays is on standardized testing which emphasizes math, science, and writing/reading.

Our youth know next to nothing about our nation, it's history, government, etc. I took a 'government & civics class' in my senior year of high school (2006) and we had students who dident even know who the President was ... how the hell can someone NOT know who the president is at a given time? How is that even possible?

I was happy that half of my fellow classmates were able to name the Democrats & Republicans as the major national political parties.
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Old 07-26-2012, 09:19 AM
3,244 posts, read 7,421,236 times
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One thing I found quite disturbing.... I don't consider myself a total idiot (was born, raised, educated in the US), but I had an engineering lab (about 12 years ago), that was 45% Asian and 45% Indian, and they knew US history and government operation FAR better than I did, and they weren't educated in the US.
I do believe that stressing the sciences to students is important (as I thrived on it), but the last history/government course I took was when I was in eighth grade, so it is not that surprising.

(But when you walk up to a Guanzhou engineer, and ask "Who was the 14th president of the US?", and the response is "That is easy, Franklin Pierce", it sort of makes you stop and think.... )
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Old 07-26-2012, 09:30 AM
882 posts, read 2,083,151 times
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I have to chuckle @ the idea that "Civics" instruction is somewhat in disfavor due to emphasis on math/science. Really? That's funny. LOL funny.
You want to know what "kids" are taught in HS? Go volunteer @ your local HS - you'll be amazed (and not in a positive fashion if you're over 30). Teachers well versed in the latest pedagogy but unable to solve for two variables, language teachers unable to construct a solid sentence, "science labs" w/no lab, but lots of youtube videos. But hey, there's an "anti bullying" required course! (This is @ a Fairfax County, VA HS)
Here's the fact: Not everyone has the same mental capacity, nor the desire to use said capacity. If you require the same level of achievement, then that standard must be set at the lowest level. Once done, don't be surprised @ the results.
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Old 07-26-2012, 10:17 AM
Location: Table Rock Lake
971 posts, read 1,444,481 times
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I had a elementry principal tell me a few years back that he couldn't see why the kids needed to memorize the multiplication tables because they had calculaters. (before computers) I told him it was to exercise the brain, use it or loose it, just like any other part of our bodies. If he were alive today he would be astounded. There is so much more to learn now than ever before and we keep adding more each year. IMHO
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Old 07-26-2012, 10:29 AM
32,516 posts, read 37,001,849 times
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Originally Posted by lucknow View Post

About Canada they knew nothing at all.
I was educated in the U.S. in the 60's and I don't remember learning anything about Canada.

However, because of President Kennedy's Alliance For Progress, the schools taught a heck of a lot about Central and South America. If you want to know what Guatemala exported in the 60's... I'm your girl.
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