Youth without a culture

Young people today know hardly anything about history, literature, or Western culture. We knew that, but study proves it. Among the findings,

Among 1,200 students surveyed:

•43% knew the Civil War was fought between 1850 and 1900.

•52% could identify the theme of 1984.

•51% knew that the controversy surrounding Sen. Joseph McCarthy focused on communism.

I’m positive my students here at Patrick Henry College know all this stuff. What amuses me is the way they often draw a blank at pop cultural references. Ask them about Britney Spears, High School Musical, and similar staples of the adolescent universe, and you often just get a blank stare. They WILL, however, tell you all about Homer, Dostoevsky, and deToqueville.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • EconJeff

    Most students I’ve dealt with also tell you about Homer…Simpson, that is!

  • EconJeff

    Most students I’ve dealt with also tell you about Homer…Simpson, that is!

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  • Cate

    I saw this article linked of Drudge yesterday and it made me very sad, as I’m sure it did many people. Now the next logical question is among the students used in the study, how many of the PARENTS could have answered the questions correctly…

  • Cate

    I saw this article linked of Drudge yesterday and it made me very sad, as I’m sure it did many people. Now the next logical question is among the students used in the study, how many of the PARENTS could have answered the questions correctly…

  • Kirk

    I wonder why it seems that only truly extraordinary people can strike the balace between book smarts and street smarts. Obviously, the former will get you much farther in life, but sometimes its hard to beleive when you watch the aforementioned PHC students dancing around in capes, participating in a lightsaber battle.

  • Kirk

    I wonder why it seems that only truly extraordinary people can strike the balace between book smarts and street smarts. Obviously, the former will get you much farther in life, but sometimes its hard to beleive when you watch the aforementioned PHC students dancing around in capes, participating in a lightsaber battle.

  • Peter

    Though the fact that they use lightsabers show at least some cultural awareness.

  • Peter

    Though the fact that they use lightsabers show at least some cultural awareness.

  • Peter

    Whoops… “shows” would be better.

    So much for balance.

  • Peter

    Whoops… “shows” would be better.

    So much for balance.

  • Carl Vehse

    For years Jay Leno’s “Jaywalking” segments have demonstrated the educational level of American youth, especially the segments taped at college graduations.

  • Carl Vehse

    For years Jay Leno’s “Jaywalking” segments have demonstrated the educational level of American youth, especially the segments taped at college graduations.

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    I’m with Cate (@3). I’m curious with what age group the results would be significantly different.

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    I’m with Cate (@3). I’m curious with what age group the results would be significantly different.

  • Don S

    I thank God for Patrick Henry College and its commitment to raising up a generation of young people who know the classics and know little of pop culture every day! Also, if any of you out there ever have the opportunity to judge debate or speech events sponsored by National Christian Forensics & Communications Association (NCFCA), do it! You will be incredibly encouraged to see the rising generation of home schoolers who are respectful, well dressed, intelligent, godly, and are learning so well how to communicate ideas, values, policy, and their faith. There is hope for America in the years ahead.

  • Don S

    I thank God for Patrick Henry College and its commitment to raising up a generation of young people who know the classics and know little of pop culture every day! Also, if any of you out there ever have the opportunity to judge debate or speech events sponsored by National Christian Forensics & Communications Association (NCFCA), do it! You will be incredibly encouraged to see the rising generation of home schoolers who are respectful, well dressed, intelligent, godly, and are learning so well how to communicate ideas, values, policy, and their faith. There is hope for America in the years ahead.

  • Pinon Coffee

    I think it shows admirable self-confidence to dare running around in a cape with a lightsaber.

  • Pinon Coffee

    I think it shows admirable self-confidence to dare running around in a cape with a lightsaber.

  • FullTime

    One of my favorite responses to people who ask about our daughters’ “socialization” because we homeschool is to (with false dramatic melancholy) bemoan that they do not know as many curse words as public school children their age.

    My 10 year old does know what the word “melancholy” means, though.

  • FullTime

    One of my favorite responses to people who ask about our daughters’ “socialization” because we homeschool is to (with false dramatic melancholy) bemoan that they do not know as many curse words as public school children their age.

    My 10 year old does know what the word “melancholy” means, though.

  • LAJ

    Are all these students home-schooled? There must be some who escaped public high school with an education!

  • LAJ

    Are all these students home-schooled? There must be some who escaped public high school with an education!


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