Sunday, August 26, 2007

Global Smartypants

I love Newsweek Magazine and look forward to Tuesday's mail to get my weekly fix on the world. What's not to love? It's probably written on about a 7th grade level so, unlike The New York Times (enjoyed daily on-line), I understand most of the vocabulary. The Newsweek articles are a nicely balanced mix of the shallow (my most comfortable depth) to the very big deal. Many of the writers are virtual friends as they often appear on my fav talk news shows and never fail to help me sort out the daily political noise. And, let's not forget Jon Meacham, Newsweek's editor and resident cutie pie, who always has a sane and insightful view of the week's issues.

But, I digress. The summer double issue arrived in early July and I knew right away from the cover that it was going to be good. There was this world globe graphic with snapshots of everything from the human brain to Christ to presidential candidates to Sanjaya. So, I start reading Cutie Pie Meacham's column and get even more excited. Here's why. Instead of letting its readers go into a summer mind slump, Newsweek proposed that we challenge ourselves with its Global Literacy learning project. So, I'm now in my second month of the project and am becoming quite the Global Smartypants!

The idea behind Global Literacy is that there are things that we all need to know about our world to help us make sense of it and navigate our daily challenges, and just enjoy life in general. And--this is important--as citizens in a democracy, we can't allow others to make decisions for us just because they're in authority positions. We must make it our business to be informed and not just be the lazy rubber stamps for politicians and other leadership figures.

Newsweek identified 13 broad categories for which we all should have at least a basic knowledge:
1. international 2. politics 3. environment 4. faith
5. technology 6. business 7. health 8. science
9. sports 10. music 11. art 12. literature 13. film

According to Newsweek, the importance of these categories could be debated, but most would agree that they encompass areas of knowledge that would be useful for all of us on a daily basis.

Now, to be a global literacy student I had to start with a pretty humbling quiz--130 questions on the above 13 areas. You can take it too by going to:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19389357/site/newsweek/

Click on "Global Literacy Quiz" and you're in business. FYI, it took me about a half hour to complete the quiz. There are 10 questions for each area, beginning with international and ending with film. Throughout the quiz you'll get a running percentage of your Global IQ. Talk about pressure! I kept thinking "Faye, you know you have three--almost four--advanced degrees. . ." Imagine my relief when I finally hit 50% global IQ!

Here's what my smartpants results looked like: out of almost 7,000 people who'd taken the quiz, I was in the 20th percentile with a Global IQ of 60. According to Newsweek's ranking that put me in the category of "We'd take you to most dinner parties". I guess that means I could hold up my end of the conversation! Thankfully, I didn't score 20 IQ because the rating was an insulting "How about a community college course?"

So, here's what I'm doing to improve my Global IQ. I have a stack of cards for the 13 categories and every day I learn something new for one of the categories. A sampling of what I've learned:

1. International-- since July 4, 141 U.S. soldiers have died in Iraq and 19 in Afghanistan.

2. Politics -- on 7/2 Bush commuted the sentence of Scooter Libby.

3. Faith --is one of the greatest influences on politics at home and abroad.

4. Technology--U.S. ranks 15th of 30 dev. countries in percentage of homes connected to www.

5. Film--the Academy Awards Oscar statuette was named for a secretary's Uncle Oscar.

Postscript: last week I re-took the Global Literacy IQ Quiz again and scored a whopping 70! My rating is now "We'd take you to dinner with really fancy people. . ." If any of you take the quiz, let me know how you do. Who knows? We may get invited to the same fancy dinners!

4 comments:

Janice said...

Sounds like a noble pursuit. Where did you get your cards? I may need some my OWN self.

KittyHawk said...

Loved the Global Quiz even though some of the questions did make me feel like a dunce. My score was 57, but I KNOW if I go back and take it again I can do better! LOL Anyway, I don't get to go to the same dinner parties you'll be going to.

I did want to quibble about some of the Qs and As. And I kept telling myself that there are OTHER things I know lots about - just not the topics they're asking about!

Also, many thanks for the promise to do SHORTER pieces! My ever-decreasing attention span appreciates that.

Faye said...

GL student Janice--think lined index cards--one for each of 13 categories-hooked together with a binder ring. Low tech but effective and portable.

Janice said...

But that costs only a trifle. I want something you have to drag out the Gold card for!