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Posted May 20, 2014 | Leave a comment
Roger Barbee: A senior survey
By Roger Barbee
I have been re-reading about Earl Shorris and The Clemente Course in the Humanities he established. His thoughts and observations concerning how the study of the classics can help people rise out of poverty led me to question the general knowledge of the seniors I teach.
They are on the cusp of entering the "real world" or college or the military, and I wanted a sense of how prepared they are. So I thought of 25 general questions that I consider indicative of their ability to compete in a global setting. I make no claims to the survey being absolute, but I think it gives a general view of where the 60 graduating seniors who took the survey are in terms of general knowledge and this is an indicator of how prepared they are for citizenship, work or college. How do you compare with the graduating 60 seniors?
1. What is the name of the mountain east of school?
In my opinion, knowledge makes for a better quality of life. All semester students have asked why they need to read Shakespeare or Golding or Chaucer. They asked how that could help them in "the real world." I always responded that having knowledge of literature would add to their general knowledge and give them lessons about life. Understanding how too much ambition led to Macbeth's downfall is a lesson we all need to heed. So my little survey is an attempt to see what these graduating seniors know about their world and the larger world they will encounter.
Each reader can draw his or her own conclusions about my survey. Perhaps it is just a bunch of silly questions that mean nothing. However, I offer that it suggests our elected School Board members, our parents, and our teachers and administrators need to do better for our students. You may choose to argue with my conclusion, but one fact I know is that the results are not the fault of the 60 students, for they are only products of their culture and environment. Maybe we are sending our graduates onto the river of life with a good enough boat but no paddle.
Here are the correct numbers for each question with some comments.
Roger Barbee is a retired educator who lives in Edinburg with his wife Mary Ann, four dogs and five cats. Email him at email@example.com.
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