Free Dartmouth
7/27/2005 12:11:00 AM | Timothy

Dartmouth Reviewed
I have been meaning to write about The Dartmouth Review calling for a core curriculum and, in particular, their ‘poll’ showing the lack of knowledge among Dartmouth students. Here's the link to Students Ignorant of Western Culture: Poll Shows Need for Core Curriculum". While a shameful percentage of students could not answer certain questions, it seems that, overall, respondents had the hardest time not with classics or literature, but questions about contemporary politics. Does a core really address that, and if so how? If this quiz represents what students should know, why should does The Review print a suggest ed core curriculum that takes its inspiration from a classical education? Why not make American government classes mandatory? Of course, I’m kidding, but my point is that contemporary politics does not seem to be akin to classical knowledge. (Also, American political science as a field is often orientated towards formal analysis and tends to ignore history.)

Judge for yourself. Rather than looking simply at the raw numbers, look specifically at which type of questions tends to be even more troublesome for the Dartmouth population. Here are the 28 questions in order of apparent increasing difficulty:

17. Q. What woman was the cause of the Trojan War?
Percent Correct: 83.9
1. Q. What famous brothers founded Rome?
Percent Correct: 64.0
16. Q. Who composed the symphony with a movement known as “Ode to Joy?”
Percent Correct: 63.2
14. Q. Which President’s pet project was building the Panama Canal? Percent Correct: 56.6
13. Q. Where is Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam located?
Percent Correct: 50.8
8. Q. Name one of the two men who invented calculus:
Percent Correct: 46.3
22. Q. Who wrote Don Quixote?
Percent Correct: 46.3
27. Q. Who invented the printing press?
Percent Correct: 46.3
23. Q. Name three freedoms guaranteed in the First Amendment to the Constitution.
Percent Correct: 45.9
28. Q. Name the five Great Lakes:
Percent Correct: 45.5
6. Q. Name one of the 3 authors of The Federalist Papers.
Percent Correct: 45.0
26. Q. Who wrote the novel The Brothers Karamazov?
Percent Correct: 39.7
9. Q. What is the dominant sect of Islam in Iran?
Percent Correct: 38.4
2. Q. What does quod erat demonstrandum (Q.E.D.) mean?
Percent Correct: 32.2
12. Q. What Shakespearean character demanded a “pound of flesh” to repay a debt?
Percent Correct: 25.6
15. Q. Who wrote “A Modest Proposal”?
Percent Correct: 24.8
7. Q. Who was Dante’s guide through Hell?
Percent Correct: 24.4
25. Q. Who wrote Faust?
Percent Correct: 24.4
5. Q. Who painted The Birth of Venus ca. 1482?
Percent Correct: 24.0
10. Q. What famous battle occurred in October of 1066 AD?
Percent Correct: 22.7
11. Q. Who wrote the “1812 Overture”?
Percent Correct: 21.9
24. Q. Who wrote “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”?
Percent Correct: 19.8
20. Q. Who wrote Democracy in America?
Percent Correct: 19.4
4. Q. What English king signed the Magna Carta?
Percent Correct: 18.6
19. Q. Name three of the twelve apostles:
Percent Correct: 16.9
3. Q. Name five US Supreme Court justices.
Percent Correct: 15.7
21. Q. Which four US Presidents were assassinated?
Percent Correct: 10.3
18. Q. What is the major third party in British politics?
Percent Correct: 9.1

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