Thursday, February 17, 2005

things can only get better

Acording to this History News Network article about a recent survey on George Washington,

Only 46 percent of the 800 adult Americans surveyed could identify him as the general who led the Continental Army to victory in the Revolutionary War. When asked who they thought was America's greatest president, only 6 percent named George Washington, ranking him seventh among all presidents. Younger Americans are far less likely to know basic facts and legends about Washington and his era. Of respondents between the ages of 18 and 29, only 57 percent knew the tale of Washington and the cherry tree (compared to 91 percent of respondents over 50).Just 45 percent of younger respondents identified Martha Washington as our nation's first First Lady.

(lemming weeps, then picks up grading pen again)

Words Written: zero
Lessons Graded: forty-nine


Hugh said...

This is bad surveying with stupid conclusions.

I'm actually pretty happy with the Washington and the Cherry Tree number, given that the story is apocryphal, sort of like the "Lincoln wrote the Gettysburg Address on the back of an envelope" story.

If we've had 42 presidents, the average president will get 2.5 percent of the vote for "best Pres". George Washington got 2.5x that. "Best President" is a matter of opinion, anyway. If I happen to think that Franklin Pierce was a better President than Washington, is that automatically a bad thing?

Shouldn't historians be happy that kids don't know legends about presidents? I thought you all dealt with teaching facts.

Indeed, Washington was a general, but that's like identifying Taft as a Supreme Court Justice, or Bill Clinton as a governor.

Yes, I'm overstating things a bit, but there's no reason to cry. If everyone knew all these things, there would be no market for historians beyond the 6th grade . . . .


lemming said...

1) We've had 41 presidents. Grover Cleveland gets counted twice.

2) Taft was much happier on the Supreme Court than as president.

3) hey! I rather like Franklin Pierce! "After the Presidency, what else is there to do except drink" is, if nothing else, honest.

4) What, no kleenex?

John B. said...

I wonder what percent of the vote GWB got in the survey...many people for some reason consider him to be on par with the founding fathers! :)

Washington's contributions as a general and as one of the most important figures at the Constituional Congress cannot be underestimated...few if any words are recorded from Washington at the CC, but his mere presence lent credence to the proceedings. He was highly respected in his time. His decision to not seek a 3rd term as president (which he would have won in a landslide) is probably one of his greatest is why we don't again have a king in this country. Only FDR broke that rule, and constitutionally you can't have more than 2 terms now.