I am busy updating my English composition syllabi for the next semester and I came across the following 2008 Civics Quiz. Although I teach English literature and composition, historical events are often alluded to in the texts and over the years I have had to give historical background information to my students.
Naturally, I felt compelled to answer the questions established by the Intercollegiate Student Institute American Civic Literacy Program who, for the past five years, has attempted to measure how well colleges and universities are transmitting American core values and history.
The results from the schools of higher learning are very discouraging. This confirms the findings of David McCullough, who, in a 1995 address at the National Book Awards Ceremony in New York warned about the steady decline of historical knowledge among American students. He wrote in "Why History? Remarks by David McCullough in Acceptance of the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, how "a young woman told [him] how glad she was to have attended [his] lecture, because until then, she explained, she had never realized that the original thirteen colonies were all on the eastern seaboard." This student was from an Ivy League university!