Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Teens may by out of touch with past culture, but are adults out of touch with teens?

I'm often perturbed at the amount of studies that focus on the shortcomings of America's youth. As the studies will show, a good number of school aged children don't know things certain people deem to be important. For instance, the linked study suggests:

-Only 43% knew the Civil War was fought between 1850 and 1900
-Only 52% knew the theme of the book 1984

Ok, so the Civil War thing is a little sad. But, to be honest, I'm not exactly positive of when the Civil War took place, and I'm in an American history honors class. And I could definitely only give you a vague idea as to what the theme of 1984 was. Why? Because it wasn't required reading.

Who determines what is important for teenagers to know anyway? Obviously someone who is out of touch with teenage culture.

Yes, it is important that teenagers know certain things. But, what if a teenager constructed a survey testing adults about teen culture? How would an average adult do on these questions:

1. What is the significance of Jessica Simpson and Tony Romo?
2. What does this sentence say? 0M6! 15 17 p05518L3 70 533 l33+? (See this horrid news report on YouTube).
3. Who is Miley Cyrus?

As Nick is pointing out to me while I write this, these are "pop culture" references. However, it is my opinion that today's pop culture is just as important as any historical culture. After all, history is written because someone felt it was important. Why are these not as important as any other event in history? Most everything is important to someone.

My point is that measuring student performance based off cultural references is a bit absurd. Yes, those events and items played important roles in history, but teenagers care about different things. Just as an adult would not be expected to ace questions like those I posed above, teenagers should not be expected to ace historical references.

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