Monday, December 22, 2008

The Civic Literacy Test

Time once again to take the Civic Literacy Test from ISI. Here's my score.

You answered 32 out of 33 correctly — 96.97 %

Average score for this quiz during December: 74.7%
Average score: 74.7%

I missed the very last question! Anyway, some background: ISI does a survey of students in 50 colleges to see if college helps improve basic understanding of how America works. The Government anyway. It turns out that going to some elite universities makes you dumber. A Summary:

Seventy-one percent of Americans fail the test, with an overall average score of 49%.

Only 24% of college graduates know the First Amendment prohibits establishing an official religion for the United States.

Talking on the phone, watching owned or rented movies, and monitoring TV news broadcasts and documentaries diminish a respondent’s civic literacy. (RML This includes Fox News and CNN, not just Oprah and Days of Our Lives.)

Only 54% can correctly identify a basic description of the free enterprise system, in which all Americans participate.

Check out more info at American Civic Literacy.

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Monday, December 08, 2008

Parenting Goals

So, what are your goals as a parent? My wife has always thought we needed some goals, but I'm just not that kind of person that goes around making "goal" and "objectives" (much to my detriment in other areas). I want my kids to be:

  • Solid Christians.

  • Contributing members of society.

  • Good family men.

  • Workers with integrity.

  • Know what the heck they are talking about (i.e. educated).

  • Able to fix simple things

  • Kind but tough

  • and, all-around good guys.

Apparently though, I need some kind of objective measurable goals. (This was the part I hated about getting my teaching degree during the "outcome-based education" fad.) So, what kinds of goals do you have? Do you have some goals for this next year? For a longer time span?

  • Daily prayer?

  • Daily devotions?

  • X-number of scriptures memorized?

  • Understand Latin?

  • Know how to read music?

Please leave comments, I really am interested.

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Thursday, December 04, 2008

Do Computers in the Home Help with Test Scores?

A new study by Charles T. Clotfelter, Helen F. Ladd and Jacob L. Vigdor of Duke University shows that just having a computer in every home is not going to help students learn. In fact, it may be detrimental. Especially in Math and Reading. These are some very surprising results. Scaling the Digital Divide: Home Computer Technology and Student Achievement is a 56 page PDF, just so you know. Some interesting quotes:

Among students in nursery school through 12th grade, rates of home computer use were 78% for whites and 46% for blacks; 88% for those with a postgraduate-educated parent and 35% for those with high school dropout parents.

Students who own a computer but never use it for schoolwork have math test scores nearly indistinguishable from those without a home computer, while scoring slightly better than reading. Students reporting almost daily use of their home computer for schoolwork score significantly worse than students with no computer at home.
Italics mine.

Could it be that students waste time surfing? Facebooking? Gaming? Does depending on a computer for schoolwork cause the brain to fail at learning how to figure things out? Or does working on a computer keep things in short-term memory? Does it create impatience?

Rather than spending so much time facebooking, or even doing schoolwork on the computer, what they need to be doing is learning how to do things with the computer. Create games and web pages, do programming, and yes, learn math and reading. These are the things that will help them make a good living. Sitting around entertaining themselves will only leave them and their children "underprivileged."

Discovered at

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