Now on to my un-scientific experiment. To get a very general idea of what kids know these days, I came up with eight questions that I asked seven different kids from four (I think) different school districts. They range in age from 8 years to 11 years old and from grades 2 through 6. Here are the results.
1. Do you know what continents are and if so, can you name them?
Naming 6 as N. America, S. America, Australia, Eurasia, Africa and Antarctica would have been acceptable as would naming Europe and Asia as two continents for a total of 7.
- Two of the kids said no.
- One named all seven.
- One named 6 of the 7.
- The remaining 3 named one or two and added in countries that they thought were continents.
2. Name one or more wars that the United States has fought in.
- 3 kids couldn't name any.
- 5 named World War I and II.
- One said the Gulf War and another said the Civil War.
3. Can you tell me what WWII was about?
- 5 kids answered no.
- 1 knew about the atom bombs and Japan.
- 1 said it was about rights for slaves.
4. Do you know what a subject and a predicate are? If so, what are they?
- 4 kids answered no.
- 1 said that a subject is something you do.
- Two knew what a subject was.
5. Do you know what a noun and a verb are? If so, what are they?
- One didn't know either.
- 4 knew what both a noun and a verb are and provided examples.
- Two knew what a verb is but not a noun.
6. Do you know what the year of our (the United States) Independence is?
- Maybe that question was too confusing because none of them could answer 1776 even though they all know what the 4th of July is as a holiday.
7. Do you know who the first president of the U.S. was?
- All answered George Washington.
8. Do you know what rhyming words are and provide an example.
- All could rhyme.
Like I said, this is not scientific in any way, but I still find the results disturbing. Some of these kids are in junior high and some will be there next year but they don't know the significance of the year 1776 and couldn't give any details about WWII and knowing the very basic parts of a sentence and grammar was hit or miss as well. I, as a parent, take some of the blame onto myself. I left it up to the public education system to educate my children and other than nightly help with homework and encouraging them to read, I haven't sat down with them and talked extensively about history, science, or grammar. I need to step it up. Even so, I still have to ask what the heck are they teaching kids in school these days?