Tuesday, June 30, 2009

History: Enough with the Quizzes

I came across the Dominion Institute's newest quiz this morning. The quiz involves identifying famous Canadians based on their photographs. It included everyone from Wayne Gretzky to Sir. Fredrick Banting. The Dominion Institute issues these quizzes knowing full well that most Canadians will do poorly on them. The resultant statistics then make for timely Globe and Mail or National Post articles around Canada Day in which we are shamed for our lack of Canadian history knowledge.

I took the quiz, and got 10 out of 10, but not without a great deal of difficulty. In one case (Nelly McClung), I had to figure out the answer by process of elimination, ruling out Celine Dion and Michelle Jean from the list of choices.

The average Canadian did much poorer than I did. But, who cares? Why is it only history that we have to quiz? How come the Physics institute of Canada doesn't go around polling everyday Canadians with 3rd year physics problems, only to complain we have been neglecting our physics, as a nation?

So, I've created my own 1 question chemistry quiz, of comparable difficulty level:

Identify the following molecule:

Apple Juice, Butter, Mustard, Saturated Fat, Vitamin C, Garlic, Aspartame, Hydro-Chloric Acid, Yeast, Caffeine, Tomato Juice, Folic Acid, Vitamin B12, Chlorinated Salt, Vitric Acid.


If you didn't recognize that as Caffeine, you're either evidence that chemistry isn't given enough funding / emphasis / time in schools, or that's just not something that's ever been important enough to your life to memorize or learn how to interpret.

Enough with the quizzes. People don't like to be shown how stupid they are. Not everyone yearns to play trivial pursuit. And, the inability to recognize a remote historic figure is not a sign that Canadian people are stupid.

If you'd like to take the quiz it is available here (for now): http://www.dominion.ca/

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