Are you smarter than an American teenager?

iStockPhoto Q: Who was Adolf Hitler? A German kaiser A munitions maker The chancellor of Germany during WWII An Austrian premier If you answered “C,” congratulations! You are now as smart as one quarter of 17-year-olds in the United States. A new survey released by the non-profit group Common Core found that teenagers in the ...

596252_high_school_grad2.jpg
596252_high_school_grad2.jpg

iStockPhoto

iStockPhoto

Q: Who was Adolf Hitler?

  • A German kaiser
  • A munitions maker
  • The chancellor of Germany during WWII
  • An Austrian premier

If you answered “C,” congratulations! You are now as smart as one quarter of 17-year-olds in the United States.

A new survey released by the non-profit group Common Core found that teenagers in the United States live in “stunning ignorance” about history and literature. That’s something we could have told you awhile ago. In “Lost in America,” a feature story in the May/June 2006 issue of FP, Douglas McGray wrote:

[S]urrounded by foreign languages, cultures, and goods, [young Americans] remain hopelessly uninformed, and misinformed, about the world beyond U.S. borders.”

In his piece, he writes that we hear all the time about how America’s youth lags behind in science and math tests. But they lag equally, if not more, in the liberal arts and social sciences. And it’s just as dangerous. As the world becomes more and more globalized, it’s crucial that our citizens today and tomorrow have a deeper understanding of history and culture.

Thankfully, Common Core has taken on this cause. The organization is composed of both Democrats and Republicans, who may not agree with each other about education reform policy. But they do agree on one thing: America’s schools need to teach more about the liberal arts. Right on.

Christine Y. Chen is a senior editor at Foreign Policy.

More from Foreign Policy

A photo illustration shows Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Joe Biden posing on pedestals atop the bipolar world order, with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, and Russian President Vladamir Putin standing below on a gridded floor.
A photo illustration shows Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Joe Biden posing on pedestals atop the bipolar world order, with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, and Russian President Vladamir Putin standing below on a gridded floor.

No, the World Is Not Multipolar

The idea of emerging power centers is popular but wrong—and could lead to serious policy mistakes.

A view from the cockpit shows backlit control panels and two pilots inside a KC-130J aerial refueler en route from Williamtown to Darwin as the sun sets on the horizon.
A view from the cockpit shows backlit control panels and two pilots inside a KC-130J aerial refueler en route from Williamtown to Darwin as the sun sets on the horizon.

America Prepares for a Pacific War With China It Doesn’t Want

Embedded with U.S. forces in the Pacific, I saw the dilemmas of deterrence firsthand.

The Chinese flag is raised during the opening ceremony of the Beijing Winter Olympics at Beijing National Stadium on Feb. 4, 2022.
The Chinese flag is raised during the opening ceremony of the Beijing Winter Olympics at Beijing National Stadium on Feb. 4, 2022.

America Can’t Stop China’s Rise

And it should stop trying.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky looks on prior a meeting with European Union leaders in Mariinsky Palace, in Kyiv, on June 16, 2022.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky looks on prior a meeting with European Union leaders in Mariinsky Palace, in Kyiv, on June 16, 2022.

The Morality of Ukraine’s War Is Very Murky

The ethical calculations are less clear than you might think.