I often give the follow quiz to my college students on the first day of class:
1. What is the last name of the man most commonly associated with the Theory of Relativity?
2. What is the name of the author of The Republic?
3. Of which country is Buenos Aires the capital?
4. What is the last name of the author of the book 1984?
5. In what European city is the Parthenon located?
6. What is the last name of the monk who first studied genetic inheritance in plants?
7. What is the name of the captain of the Pequod in the book Moby Dick?
8. What is the name of the ship on which Charles Darwin made his scientific voyage?
9. What is the last name of the author who wrote The Old Man and the Sea?
10. What is the last name of the astronomer who in 1543 published his theory that the Earth revolves around the Sun?
They are encouraged to guess if they are not sure of the answer. They are assured that they will be credited for even misspelled responses.
The modal score is typically 2 correct out of 10.
This last round, only 4 out of 38 students got 6 or more items correct.
So much for a generation of "education is about starting a fire, not filling a vessel" and "education is about teaching students how to learn, and not memorizing facts and dates." Yeah, except the only problem is that we have ended up with a generation that knows nothing about its own culture.
95% of American secondary school students are "educated" in public high schools. The results are disastrous. How about scrapping the entire American system of public secondary education and starting over with something that isn't crap?
Our new President could instantly revolutionize education in this country just giving making elementary and secondary school tuition -- for ANY school, or independent private tutor -- 100% tax deductible.