Three months of silence. I won’t even try to explain it away, only begin anew.
A friend pointed me to the online “Civic Literacy Quiz.” It’s a good quiz. Go take it before reading the rest. It’s short. I’ll wait.
I believe a well educated society should be scoring at least 75% on a test like this. The occasional flub over what is in the Preamble to the Constitution versus the Declaration of Independence isn’t going to impact a citizens ability to engage properly in a democratic society, but ignorance of the Federalist/Anti-Federalist struggle will, and clearly does if you listen to kinds of debates we’re hearing today. Anyone who appeals to what “The Founding Fathers” believed, almost certainly knows very little about the subject. There is very little that the “Founding Fathers” agreed about. That they were ever able to find a compromise that has worked so well is a testament to the brilliance of a few people, not the unified vision of an era.
I note that there was a very high miss-rate on basic economic questions. As more and more “regular people” become investors, both directly and through retirement accounts, this is really frightening. The whole issue of both economic and historical ignorance I think is best expressed by their FAQ Question 4:
4. Many colleges focus on teaching students how to think critically. Why should these schools be concerned if students fail to demonstrate rudimentary knowledge about America’s heritage?
To think critically about a subject, one must first know the facts of a subject. A college student who does not know the basics about America’s history and institutions cannot think critically about the questions that will determine America’s future.
I’m a huge proponent of better critical thinking skills in our education system, but I couldn’t have said it better myself. You can’t think critically about a subject that you don’t know anything about. So much of the nonsense we hear today in opinion pages and talk radio is people trying to do exactly that. They actually aren’t stupid. They are trying to think. They just don’t know anything.
If knowing what you’re talking about makes you elitist, please, can we hand the country over to the elites?