Last week, MRCTV’s Dan Joseph showed that nothing is sacred whatsoever when he trolled the graduation ceremony of Centreville High School in Northern Virginia. Before students can celebrate graduating high school, Joseph asked basic history questions, like, in what year did we declare our independence from Great Britain? Of course, the answer is 1776, but 1704, 1674 (or 1673), and 1907 were just some of the years that were given. Yet, regarding who are the Speaker of the House and the Vice President of the United States, these recent graduates fared much better.
Now, we can all mock these students for not knowing basic American history, slam Millennials for being dumb (though a lot of them have political views that make no sense), or criticize our education system for not teaching our children.
At the same time, a lot of Americans who aren’t high school graduates don’t know a lot about history, or the basic machinations of American government. As the Washington Post reported in June of 2014, Americans had some trouble finding Ukraine on the map; 55 percent couldn’t identify the party that Abraham Lincoln belonged to during the Civil War; 53 percent of Democrats knew that FDR was indeed one of them; two-thirds couldn’t name one Supreme Court Justice; only 38 percent could name the three branches of government; and a 1999 survey by Project Vote Smart found that only 38 percent of Americans 18-25 didn’t know the function of the Supreme Court, which is deciding the constitutionality of laws.
Jamie Fuller, who is now the Associate Editor at New York Magazine, who wrote the post, also mentioned that Newsweek’s 1,000-person survey in 2011, found that 29 percent couldn’t identify the vice president–and 73 percent had no clue as to why we fought the Cold War.
So, in the grand scheme of things, we’re all falling short in some area relating to U.S. history, politics, and government.