The “person on the street” was setting was cliche. A student at Texas Tech was on-camera someplace on campus where the student pedestrian traffic was brisk. The day was sunny. She began to stop and ask students, one at a time, questions.
The first question was: “Who won the Civil War?” One of the students asked, “Is this a trick question?” Only one of about a dozen students answered correctly and said, “The Union ...The North.” Two students said, “The Confederacy.” The rest failed to answer.
The next question was: “From what country did we gain our independence?” One student offered, “What that in 1970 .... No, wait. The 1600s...” No one answered correctly. (Correct answer: England.)
The third question was: “Who is the Vice-President of the United States?” No one answered the question. (Correct answer: Joe Biden.)
Then the interviewer asked: “On what series does Snooky appear?” Every student correctly answered “Jersey Shore.”
The final question was: “To whom is Brad Pitt married?” Every student answered, “Angelina Jolie.” Note: I am not sure if they are married.)
One might say these students were engineering majors, but they were psychology, political science, and other majors. Even if they had been engineering majors—lack of knowledge of something as important as the Civil War is terrible. She did ask dates of specific battles, or even the years over which the Civil War was fought. She just wanted to know who won.
If these questions had been posed to the “average” person on the street, the results would have been as appalling. This was a college campus. Thus the outcome was worse.
When it came to pop culture, those students were on it. This was a sad commentary on our culture’s priorities.
Maybe we can resolve these shortcomings and more aggressively teach civics and American History.
Of course, another way to resolve the problem is to elect Snooky Vice-President of the United States and declare Brad Pitt Secretary of History Over the Civil War Won by the North.