I just posted that because I think it's a sad commentary on the current state of education. "American high schools don't get scores that high"? That's TRAGIC. Because most of those qusetions are pretty basic. Where's Portugal? Which artist made "David" (there's a tendency to refer to the sculpture as "Michelangelo's David", which rather answers that question...)? Basic grammar, basic history, basic science?
And because I got a high score I "must be an autodidact"?
What do they TEACH in American high schools these days?...
And can the answer to this really be that I was blessed with a rounded and EUROPEAN education, and therefore I know what to call a century which contains a given year or whare the Magna Carta was signed?
Is any of this stuff useful in today's world? DOes it really matter to know these things? But if not them, then what? What is it that you're supposed to get out of high school actually knowing? And if the answer is "nothing much" then why bother making kids go there in the first place and endure exams, and quizzes and homework, and maintaing a high grade average?
There was a whole thread in my home newsgroup a while ago where one father insisted that his homeschooled kids learned "the things they were interested in" and were not forced to bother with any kind of basic curriculum. This boggles me. WE ALL HAVE TO LIVE IN THE SAME WORLD, and I would like to think that the generations to come are being given an education on how to manage the planet when we're gone - but that doesn't seem to matter any more, at least in the particular scenario we were talking about, as long as as the kids in questions weren't being "Forced" to learn anything they didn't want to. Ye gods and little fishes. I hated maths, but it was mandatory for my generation, and I learned multiplication tables off by heart, and that means I can do basic simple calculations in my head without resorting to a calculator to divide something by three (trust me, I've seen it done). But things work TOGETHER. You can't be fascinated by history without learning enough geography to know where the history took place. You can't be interested in science without learning a little bit of mathematical underpinnings. You simply can't be allowed (and this is partly the author in me reacting, appalled) to say that you are not interested in reading.
I am still reeling from those "culmination projects" of graduating high-school seniors which I posted about a while back, to which I was part of the "jury" who was brought in to listen to the presentations. Projects which carried a huge weight in terms of being able to graduate, and yet those that I saw included a girl building an ottoman chair, a guy who restored an old car, and a "Scrapbook" of the history of a girl's town which consisted solely of photodopied pictures and photodopied captions, without a scrap of original work or writing, something that I would expect a twelve-year-old to be able to do in her spare time and not something that a graduating senior would trot out as a show and tell implying that she was qualified to graduate. One of the things they were supposed to tell us is what they learned from their projects - and most of them quoted things like "getting organised" - THIS, they went to high school to learn?... And one of the most common excuses was, well, "I didn't have time - I have wrestling/drama/yearbook/whatever, and that took up a huge amoung of my time..." Blink. BLink blink blink. Kids, if extracurricular activities are getting in the way of your education it's the activities taht should be curtailed, not the education.
Perhaps if the system was geared more towards that attitude we wouldn't get quizzes like the one that just awarded me the title of autodidact...