Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Uh oh. It seems that this global literacy smartpants is about to lose her title. In August 2007, Newsweek devoted its summer double issue to global literacy. Put simply, and according to the major writers for Newsweek, there are things we all need to know about our world to help us make sense of it and navigate our daily challenges. More importantly, as citizens in a democracy, we can't allow others to make decisions for us just because they're in authority positions. It's our job to be informed and not just be the lazy rubber stamps for politicians and other leadership figures. With that in mind, I'll be watching President Obama's televised speech on health care reform tonight, instead of an NCIS re-run which would be a lot more to my liking.
But, let's get back to losing my global smartpants title. Back in July 2007 I took Newsweek's global literacy quiz based on the 13 broad categories you see on the above index cards. The topics ranged from international affairs to literature. At the end of the quiz you got a Global IQ score. All the time I was taking the quiz kept thinking "Faye, you have three--almost four--advanced degrees. . ." How relieved I was to finally hit 50% GIQ! In the end my smartypants results looked like this: out of the 7,000 people who'd taken the quiz, I scored in the top 20th percentile with a 60% GIQ. Loved the fun ways Newsweek described the rankings: my 60% was "We'd invite you to very important dinner parties." (I suppose I could hold my own in a deep dinner conversation?), higher rankings might get you a "You should be advising the President." A 20% GIQ got you "How about a community education class?" Lower than that the ranking was simply "Wow. No kidding?"
After taking this quiz I decided that I didn't know nearly as much as I thought I did. Plus, when you retire there's always a concern that your brain will either seize up or turn to mush. So, for over two months I working on improving my global literacy by learning something new from one of the 13 categories each day. Here's a sampling of what I learned in the summer of '07:
international -- 3,587 U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq since war began in March '03
politics -- Senator Larry Craig of Idaho pleads guilty of lewd conduct in MN airport
environment -- recordbreaking heat on 1st day of fall-96 degrees, record 77.5 in 1925
faith -- faith one of greatest influences on politics, religious diversity a fact
technology -- U.S. ranks 15th of 30 developed countries in homes connected to www
business --Bush says federal government will help borrowers refinance AR mortgages
health -- American Cancer Society says lack of health care access will kill more than tobacco
sports -- Atlanta Falcons' Michael Vick charged with running a dogfighting ring in VA
music -- Luciano Pavoratti died at 71 years of age of cancer
art -- Fox Network accused of excessive censorship of presenter and award recipient remarks at Emmys
film -- many fall releases deal with Iraq war and unrest in the Middle East
As with many of my interests, the global literacy project fell by the wayside . Until last week, that is, when I found something similar in Newsweek. Only this time the challenge was more about hard news. The Smart Quiz was described this way: "even hardcore news junkies may be surprised by what they have missed. If you master this extra hard current events quiz, then you know your news." Ah ha! Newsweek, you're on! I read a daily newspaper and weekly news magazine, watch local news and one hour broadcasts of BBC America World News, and check Google News throughout the day. I know I'll destroy the Smart Quiz. . .
Again, there is a series of questions by category, like the global literacy quiz. Only this time there are only five categories: World, National Affairs, Culture, Economy, Health/Environment. Did you notice that the questions were described as "extra hard"? Well believe me. . .
My results from the Smart Quiz were, as I said before, humbling. Scores by category:
World 36% (Av 38%)
National Affairs 23% (Av 34%)
Culture 14% (Av 33%)
Ecomony 30% (Av 31%)
Health/Environment 44% (Av 39%)
Overall 29%, smarter than 3% of users who took this quiz. Average user score 35%.
Now, if your ego can handle this quiz, go to Smart Quiz for the questions and interpretation of your scores. While you do that, I'll get on the internets and find us a good recipe for humble pie! BTW, I'm back on the global literacy regimen, learning something new each day from the 13 categories. A comforting fact that I learned under "Health" on September 7: "Boomers worried about forgetfulness, Altzheimer's, and dementia should exercise the brain to increase production of new dendrites--brain cells." Use it or lose it!
(Image credit for Smart Quiz: Newsweek)