I've obviously taken a break from blogging lately, but these disturbing survey results have dragged me back to the keyboard. Only one person out of a thousand surveyed could identify all of the rights that are included in the first amendment. How sad that we are such an ignorant group of people!
Some will be quick to blame schools and teachers. If teachers are indeed to blame, I would be one of the guilty party, for I majored in history, and taught government/civics to eighth graders one year. I remember spending a lot of time on the Constitution and the all of the Amendments. Rather than just make the kids memorize the list, I worked to teach them what they all meant. If you had given my students the survey within one week of that unit, I am confident that many of them would have answered correctly, even though I had extremely unmotivated and disruptive students. Now, several years later, I honestly wonder how many of them have retained that knowledge. I can picture a few faces of kids that probably have, but the rest probably haven't. Why not? As I already stated they were extremely unmotivated and disruptive. Is that my fault? Many people would say yes. When I was in college, full of idealism, I would also have blamed myself. Now, I answer firmly, no. I know that I tried my best to teach effectively, and my "best" was indeed good.
Until we, as a nation, change our culture and values to truly appreciate learning and education, we will continue to see these sort of dismal survey results.