The void of knowledge doesn’t just affect people with little or no education or professional experience. A recent study revealed that 89 percent of people took a civic knowledge test and believed they would pass it, yet 83 percent would fail. Similarly, illiteracy isn’t only a problem for poor and lower-class people. It also creates a void that’s easy to fill by pedagogical and anti-intellectual individuals.
Exceptionalism is a societal construct that explains the rising rate of ignorance among American students. American exceptionalism was born in the American Revolution, which changed the political, constitutional, and legal structure of the world. It also applied Enlightenment-inspired thought experiments to the practical realm of politics. But despite the country’s success, its students are often ignorant of these concepts. Why?
American Exceptionalism – Why Is It Important?
While US exceptionalism has a prominent place in our national discourses, it is not an inherent feature of this idea. Rather, it reveals an implicit bias toward superior power resources. While US neoconservatives and British colonialism have used exceptionalism to justify power politics, the same view can be applied to China. It is important to understand that the concept of exceptionalism has different connotations, and does not necessarily imply superiority in every context.
In fact, the concept of exceptionalism can be complex, with competing versions abounding at different points in time. It is a problem for scholars to draw an absolute definition of exceptionalism, because different countries can display distinct varieties of exceptionalism at different times. In the United States, for example, the concept of exceptionalism is associated with a purely American view of the world. But, in the US, there is a long tradition of foreign policy thought that interprets US independence and state formation as triumphs of Enlightenment values. During the Obama years, however, exceptionalism has had a less prominent role.
The Increasing Rate of Ignorance Upon American Students? This disturbing trend can be traced back to the World War II era, when the U.S. had few allies, and college freshmen did poorly on history tests. A survey of college freshmen found that the average student knew fewer things about the U.S. than they did about the Spanish-American War or the thirteen original colonies. Even in today’s high school students, this obfuscation could be linked to the failure of American education.
According to a National Geographic survey, approximately 60% of college students cannot name one country on a world map and 35% of them cannot recognize a state in the USA. Students in the United States cannot even identify the African continent. In addition, many of them cannot sing the national anthem or know the names of state officials. The author of the study, Susan Fingeret, suggests that this lack of knowledge may be caused by a combination of factors, including isolationism and exceptionalism.
In addition to the narcissistic nature of many Americans, the void of knowledge isn’t limited to people who lack education or have little professional achievement. Similarly, a study found that 89 percent of people who took a civic knowledge test believed that they would pass. Yet, eighty-three percent failed. This lack of knowledge does not only affect the poor and the lower class; it also creates a void that pedagogical individuals can fill.
Lack of civic education
A national survey released by the Annenberg Public Policy Center found that only 19 percent of Americans had sufficient knowledge of civics. While that statistic might seem high, it is far from it. In fact, a recent study of 1,416 adults showed that only one-third of participants could name all three branches of government and nearly a half thought a 5-4 Supreme Court ruling is sent back to Congress. The findings reveal the urgent need for civic education.
The United States is falling behind other developed nations in civics education. The Pew Research Center found that less than half of the youth participated in the presidential election in 2012. Similarly, only ten percent of 18-to-24-year-olds in the 2012 presidential election met the standard for “informed engagement.” The lack of civic education has become a public relations issue. In a recent survey, one-fourth of teachers said that adults would object to including politics in their civics courses.
There are several reasons for this disconnect. Increasing civics education in schools is a key component of a free, democratic society. A lack of civic education in schools is one of the primary reasons why our country is so divided. An educated citizenship is crucial for a free and democratic government. In fact, one-fourth of states have a statute specifically addressing civics education. A majority of states have introduced and implemented K-12 content standards, but only three have created separate civics education standards. Twenty-three states have included civics topics in their social studies standards, while 29 require some form of government or civics course.
EPA recognition score
A new survey by the EPA has found a striking correlation between the growing rate of climate change ignorance and the lack of awareness about the environment. The EPA recognition score is declining as students become more clueless about the impact of climate change on our lives. In a recent survey of American high school students, more than half of the respondents claimed to know little about climate change. Yet, this association was only modest. Most students believed Bill Gates was the first billionaire and a female Shoshone guide.
The lack of scientific knowledge
A recent study found that most low-income kindergarten students have very little general science knowledge. Closing this gap could prove critical for academic success later on. Already, there are huge gaps in science achievement among upper and lower-income students and racial and ethnic groups. By the eighth grade, these gaps have become significant. In addition, there is a substantial lack of science literacy among American adults. But what can be done to reduce this gap?
The Problem of Low Science Knowledge in American Students
While the results of the 2015 study were mixed, there were some encouraging findings. For example, whites score higher on science knowledge tests than Hispanics and blacks, and the two racial groups are similar on science knowledge scales. On the other hand, liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans score higher than the middle group, which is consistent across questions. Nevertheless, this lack of knowledge is still widespread. And it seems like the problem of low science knowledge isn’t going away anytime soon.
Nevertheless, a recent study found that American students aren’t as interested in science as their peers. Only 49% of high-school students reported that they were interested in science, while just 30% of lower-income students said that they sought out science news. Moreover, Americans with higher education were more likely to take an interest in science. That may be a sign that they are more interested in the subject. Even though science news isn’t widely covered, it’s important to note that there are gaps in science knowledge among American students that should be addressed.
Lack of geography knowledge
The lack of geographic knowledge among American students is troubling. A recent report by the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) suggests that nearly three-quarters of eighth graders fall short of proficiency in geography. That number has not improved since 1994. However, the study is not all bad news. Educators are now looking for ways to improve geography education in the United States. Moreover, lawmakers, including the Senate Appropriations Committee, are worried about the lack of geospatial literacy among students.
The Lack of Geospatial Literacy in American Students
A National Geographic article published in September 2016 echoed the findings of the National Geographic report. In addition to eighth graders being awful at geography, the article shows even young college-educated Americans to be ignorant. For example, two-thirds of Americans could not identify Indonesia as a majority Muslim nation. Further, the average score of geography literacy among American students is only 55%. Despite this, the survey also found that the amount of geography education varies widely. Some schools teach geography as far as the ninth grade, while others teach it until sixth grade.
A recent study by the National Geographic Society showed that only 37 percent of young American students could recognize Iraq on a map. This is troubling because nearly half of the U.S. has troops stationed in the country since 2003. The survey also showed that foreign students in Prague had trouble identifying key countries. Some students did better than others, however, and could locate Sudan, Afghanistan, Iran, and Iraq. In addition, some students were unable to identify their home countries, like New York.
Lack of current-event knowledge
Despite college students’ claims that they are knowledgeable about current events, a recent survey revealed that they lack an average of one-third of that knowledge. In the survey, 92 Seward County Community College/Area Technical School students were asked nine questions. Of these questions, three involved current events, including the presidential elections, and three asked students to name incumbents, candidates for governor, and ISIS. While the questions may seem elementary, many students had trouble answering even one of them.
Current Events Knowledge and Media Use
In one survey, researchers used demographic information to gauge students’ media use and current-events knowledge. The more people read newspapers, the more current-events knowledge they report having. Conversely, the more they watch broadcast news, the less knowledge they had of current events. The results show a clear link between the degree of media use and the level of knowledge. Ultimately, the results suggest that news media use and knowledge differ by age, gender, and media preference.
Those with a college degree have the greatest chance of being knowledgeable about current events. Compared with the least-educated Americans, they are more likely to be registered to vote. More informed Americans are also more likely to vote. Those with a college degree have better information about current events and public policy than those without one. If you think you have a good knowledge of current events, consider this: six in ten college graduates are among those with the most current knowledge. One-fifth of all Americans with a high school diploma fall into the latter category.