In which the world is in a shocking state.

20 Sep

From News9 in Oklahoma comes the shocking — SHOCKING — report that 75% of high school students in that state can’t name the first President. Obviously this is pretty crazy-sounding, which, I have to admit, is what makes me a little skeptical. I recall some kind of similar poll from the UK a few years back, in which ridiculous answers about Celebrated Naval Hero Gandalf came up a lot. Basically, I remember when I was in high school, and how a lot of the kids I knew probably would’ve thought it was pretty hilarious to pretend they didn’t know who the first President was!

So I don’t know. On the one hand, we are constantly being told that American public schools are not great compared to the rest of the world. On the other hand, these are high school students we’re talking about, and I do not have any trouble at all believing that high school students would want to screw with people polling them. I’m thinking it’s probably a little from Column A (the SHOCKING and TERRIBLE state of our public schools!!!!!!) and a little from Column B (high schoolers being high schoolers). It might just be that rather than telling us a lot about the Tragic Ignorance Of Today’s Youth, this is merely telling us about their Heroic Dedication To Sarcasm!

This is a pretty optimistic post for me, though, I have to say! Normally I am pretty much the first person to come down on the “people are all stupid, grumble grumble” side of things. This is part of what I learned to do in my Serious Historian Training, though: don’t take things at face value. It’s easier to do this with a statistic from my own time, though; it’s a lot easier to go “hang on a second, what would the people I went to high school with ten years ago have done for the lulz” than it is to try and approach the foreign mindset of someone from even two hundred years ago.

(Side note: oh my god I started high school ten years ago. WHAT.)

Basically, polling would be a whole lot easier if having ESP were a requirement for being a pollster! Someone should get on that.

(I also refuse to believe that anyone could forget about the hotness that was George Washington. SOMEDAY I WILL GET A TIME MACHINE AND THEN, HOT YOUNG GEORGE WASHINGTON, THEN WE ARE SO GOING ON A DATE.)

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One Response to “In which the world is in a shocking state.”

  1. Susan Wilbanks September 20, 2009 at 12:08 #

    Every time I see one of those “OMG our children are so ignorant!!!1!!!1!” stories, I remember watching my high school classmates fill out a survey on drug use back in 1988. (Wow, I’m old.) Most of the guys claimed to have tried everything at least once, and to be regular users of at least one illegal drug, even though all any of them had *really* done was get drunk more weekends than not and maybe try marijuana once or twice.

    When you get your time machine, can I borrow it after your date with hot young George Washington so I can go out with hot young Arthur Wellesley and hot at any age Michel Ney?

    (Recent lurker, first time poster…)

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