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2000:  I'm Sick!
2001:  Because
A Sticky Situation
This Feels Familiar
Rip Van Winkle
Always on the Edge of a Scream

2006: The Zen of Shopping

Noises Off

Books Read in 2007
Updated: 11/17
"Second Chances"



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Michele's Memorial


20 November 2007

I lifted the following from a blog called "Yakkety Yak."  Scary stuff:

Yesterday, during homeroom, students were asked to fill out a survey to test their knowledge of world topics. The results from my class (ages 17 and 18) were disturbing, to say the least.

After looking over the survey, three students declined to participate because, “I don’t know that stuff.”

This is how the other twelve responded.

True or false: Hawaii was the 51st state. Six out of twelve said that statement is true.

True or false: Latin Americans speak Latin. Ten out of twelve said that statement is true.

What is the national religion of Israel? Four students left it blank. One said Israel is the national religion of Israel. Four said Muslim. One said Islam. Two said Christianity. Not one student got it right.

What language is spoken in the United Kingdom? One student left it blank. Another answered “Enishlish.”

Name two countries that border the United States. Two students left it blank. One answered “North and South.”

What is Darfur? Where is it located? Three students answered “I don’t know.” Three left it blank. One answered, “a country in the Middle East.” Another answered, “U.S.” Another said Darfur is “a midget.” I swear he was not trying to be funny. He read the word Darfur as “dwarf.” Yet another read the word as “draft,” and answered, “When the army pick you name to go to the army.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m scared.

The scariest thing for me is that this doesn't surprise me.  I never watch "Are you Smarter than a Fifth Grader" but I did watch it the other night because it was celebrity week and the guest celebrity was former American Idol finalist Kelly Pickler.  I've always thought she was just the cutest thing around, not the brightest bulb in the bunch, but still very cute and very talented.  I was curious to see her on the show.

It made me groan.  On the question "Budapest is the capital of which European country?" she said that she thought Europe was a country.  When her 5th grade partner got the correct answer, she thought they were kidding.  Who would name a country "hungry"? 

When asked if the piccolo was a woodwind, string or percussion instrument, she reasoned that piccolo started with "p" and percussion started with "p" and Pickler started with "p" so the answer must be percussion.  That is one of those answers that make me cock my head the way Lizzie does when she's trying to figure out what I'm talking to her about.

She lucked out on the question about which of three men was a president.  I don't remember the two wrong answers, but the right answer was Pierce and, using the "p" is for Pickler rationale (which worked so well for piccolo) she managed to get the right answer.

The question that stumped her was "how many canine teeth are in the human mouth."  She was torn between 2 and 4 and decided that she would rather give a sure $50,000 to charity than risk it by going for $100,000.

This isn't so much an indictment of Kelly Pickler, who is still cute as a button and a heck of a lot more talented than I am, but her answers are a symptom of how our schools are no longer teaching our kids.

The "dumbing of America" has been in evidence for a long time in the popular segment of The Tonight Show, "jay-walking," where Jay Leno goes out to the street, or to Universal Studios and asks questions of people passing by.  The answers, especially when they are from college students, teachers, or successful professionals is appalling. 

In the case of students, these are the people who are going to be making the decisions about the rest of my life when they run for office or are in charge of deciding whether or not they will allow me to have a necessary medical procedure.

But then we have no great minds to look up to, do we?

"As yesterday's positive report card shows, childrens do learn when standards are high and results are measured." -- G.W. Bush on "No Child Left Behind"

The Man in the White House is a perfect candidate for "Are you Smarter than a Fifth Grader."  (But at least I think he knows that Europe isn't a single country.)

Maybe he's a better candidate for Jay-walking.

"I heard somebody say, 'Where's (Nelson) Mandela?' Well, Mandela's dead. Because Saddam killed all the Mandelas."

"Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning?"



Remembering how funny last night's show was!



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