Only 58% of students were able to point to the ass end of the world on a map.
A new National Education Foundation report is out today, based on a nationwide quiz of middle-school students. Entitled ‘The Bigotry of High Expectations: American students are deplorably ignorant about the wider, lesser world,’ the paper is set to bolster fears that the myth of American unexceptionalism has become widespread among US teens.
You might assume that in the greatest country on Earth, young adults would grasp the logical implication: that the rest of the world is, well, less great.
But if you expected that, you’ve been living in a cave, says speleobiologist David Dixon—as illustrated by scores from the NEF quiz on the nations of the world, good and otherwise.
“Let’s just say performance was… poor,” continues Dr Dixon.
“As in, Dominican Republic poor.”
Almost 60% of candidates were unable to name the capital city of a tinpot banana republic.
Fewer than half of respondents knew the preferred term for the planet’s most retarded regions (‘developmentally-delayed countries’).
And only 58% succeeded in pointing to the ass end of the world on a map. “Which was barely better than guessing,” Dixon explains.
Scores were even worse when it came to more challenging questions, like this item:
America has been called a great experiment in multiculturalism, whose success can be seen in any of her ethnically-diverse neighborhoods. Where in New York City would you find more unconvicted mass murderers walking free per capita than anywhere else?
(Answer: ‘Turtle Bay.’ Also accepted was ‘the United Nations building.’)
Students started out well when asked if they’d rather live in the United Kingdom or the Kingdom of Bhutan, with 91% of candidates correctly choosing the English-speaking pro-American proto-America (far and away the less sub-American of the two non-American monarchies).
The authors of the test cautioned against self-congratulation, however. “The first item was not intended to challenge students,” they reminded journalists, “but as an example of how to fill in the multiple-choice answer sheet.”
Also acceptable was to furiously obliterate both of the above choices and use what remained of the nub of the 2B pencil provided to write “HELL NO.”
Answers written in pen, HB pencil or an unassuming hand that seemed almost to be apologizing for its own existence might not be read correctly by the computer, warned the front-page instructions.
The Yak Yakking Act was meant to ban cellphone use while riding the large, unpredictable bovines.
A troubling 7% of students wrongly preferred Bhutan, the landlocked Himalayan hellhole where freezing your ass off remains the number one cause of death—despite the efforts of an army of surgically-trained volunteers from the West—followed by driving while ethnic Nepalese and, in third place, committing lèse-majesté too loudly.
Without fail, holidaymakers who accidentally visit the country come home with horror stories about life in a 38,394-square-kilometre Medieval theme park.
It starts when your next-door neighbor refuses to shut up their Bhutanese barking deer. After a sleepless night, you’re appalled to find that the country’s roads are a free-for-all warzone of gored carcasses and widespread contempt for the Yak Yakking Act (which ostensibly bans the use of cellphones while riding the dangerous and unpredictable bovines). Then the term ‘fashion crime’ takes on a whole new meaning as you receive style tips at gunpoint from the Royal Bhutanese Mounted Cultural Police.
But the single most common complaint of survivors is the difficulty of booking an airline ticket out of there. Bhutan still has no Internet, though the King was gracious enough to share his Intranet password in 2001, opening up a whole new world consisting of the .gov.bhut domain plus a D drive full of cam rips of the latest Bhutanese-dubbed romantic comedies.
His Royal Godliness Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck—whose subjects have not produced a peer-reviewed scientific paper “in quite some time”—is said to be ecstatic about the front-page mention in the exam, calling it the closest the People of the Thunder Dragon would ever come to contributing to human knowledge.
Of the following, according to the 2011 World Civilizations Census, there are now more people living in:
A North America
C The Asia-Pacific
D The Middle Ages