The USA Weekend for April 11-13, 2008 reported how poorly 14,000 seniors and freshmen at 50 institutions of higher education performed on a quiz about basic U.S. history and civics: the average score was a mere 52%, which probably included a lot of guesswork. Well, I could have told you how history-challenged we are from watching Jaywalking on The Tonight Show. I once watched as Mr. Leno asked someone when the War of 1812 took place–and the person got it wrong!
Take the civics quiz yourself. I did, and I scored considerably better than Harvard’s average of 69.6%, but not as well I would have liked.
Brush up with books like Don’t know much about history (3rd-floor Main Collection, E178.25 .D37 1990) or A people’s history of the United States (Main Collection, E178 .Z75 2003). It could be a summer project! That way you won’t embarrass yourself if Jay Leno asks you questions from his little blue cards.