About Me

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Recent retiree--35 year's experience teaching reading, English, adult basic education and volunteer leadership skills. Started this blog to exchange ideas and commentary with friends and others having an interest in joining the discussions. Greatest life accomplishments include: 1.organized my 3rd grade class to check out library books for me to get around librarian's weekly limit--Amazon.com, the Mullins Elementary 3rd Grade Class of 1956 is still waiting for "thank you" notes; 2. volunteered in the Peace Corps, island of St. Kitts, West Indies; 3.taught adults to read, earn their GEDs., and speak English as a second language; 4. bought a border collie puppy for $6, got evicted rather than give him up, and began a life-long love affair with all things "Dog"; 5. joined a physical fitness boot camp in my mid-50s--don't mess with someone who's been doing regulation pushups in wet grass at 5:30 a.m.; 6. walked across Northern England with best friend Sally--over 80 miles from the Irish to North Seas; and 7. travelled to many foreign countries for pleasure and work.

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)


Jan n Jer said...

Wow, you scored better then I would have. My hubby would love to take that quiz, I will be sure to tell him about it. I do try to use my mind to keep it healthy, you are right..use it or lose it. I agree with you about being informed and to make up our own mind about certain issues. Get the facts first before you speak! Have a good one Faye.

m (the misanthrope) said...

Oh golly. I'm not sure if I'll take the quiz. I consider myself a news junkie, but I would like to know more than I do. And I can't handle failure ;-) Thanks for the link though, I might venture there at some point!

Debs said...

I'm sure I'd be hopeless. I think you did very well though.

Cousin M said...

I accepted the challenge, and here's the result:
World: 54%
National: 38%
Culture: 14% (Britney who?)
Economy: 40%
Health/Environment: 44%
Overall: 38% - better than 31% of quiz takers. See, the fact that I started school ahead of you didn't make any difference!

Faye said...

janis--during the presidential election season I was consumed by news. After it was over I kind of drifted back into a fantasy world of the 1800s. My scores on the quiz reflected that. A little balance would be good, I guess.

misanthrope--most disappointing for me was my "culture" scores--I really thought was up on all that important stuff! :-) You'd do great on this quiz--young people are more engaged, I think, because their future is at stake.

debs--now if the quiz were for the more literary, you'd ace it I'm sure. BTW, have you voted for our lovely Richard A to win upcoming television awards--forgot what yours are called? I voted for him in Spooks just based on YouTube bits.

cousin m--but you did do so much better than I! And I'm sure it was only because you got to start school a year earlier!