Stuff Kids Don’t Know

Slice Of Life
Typography

So I have been teaching high school English, and tutoring writing and reading for over twenty years and one of the things I have noticed in the classroom and in sessions with students while tutoring, is kids are lacking in background information. In my opinion, while taking a standardized exam, I tell the students the two most important things while taking a standardized exam are: vocabulary and background knowledge. If they do not know the words in an answer section, they cannot accurately answer the questions. If they have a background about the topic, the chances are, they will perform better.

So, I have created a Google document and while teaching or tutoring, I quickly jot down the information that was not known. Want to have some fun with your children or adolescents? Ask them the following questions:

Why does that guy collect all of those cans? Where does he go with them? How much does he get for each can? This intrigued me so much I asked every kid I came into contact with. I asked kids on the beach and at the SFDS Summer Classics. My favorite answer: $1. If people were getting a dollar back for each can, more kids would be cleaning up around town. When I told the parent of the kid who said one dollar for each can, the father interrupted me and said, “He definitely did not know the answer and he probably guessed one dollar.” The dad knew exactly what his child replied. Many kids offered varying answers from ten cents to fifty cents. Only one or two students knew the answer out of those I polled.

How many ounces are in a pound? Now remember, I am not working with small children. Remember, I work with teenagers.

The seven dwarfs. I said to them, “You have never seen Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs? The answer is no, and it made me so sad. (I texted both of my daughters to make sure we had watched it. My older daughter quickly texted me back: “Of course.”)

Due to technology being at their fingertips, kids do not know what an encyclopedia is. I know they have Google available at their fingertips, but standardized exams ask them: Where would the article be found? They also do not know what an almanac or a digest is.

Due to technology, they do not know how to look up words in the dictionary. I try to get them away from technology often and make them look up the definition of a word that has come up during class. They often say “Miss, the word is not in this book.” So, I walk over and show them they are on the wrong page.

Roman Numerals. This I joke about and say, “How do you know what Super Bowl it is this year?”

  1. I ask them what happened in 1776 and they stare at me.

Now I know I was raised in a movie home with one television, so we often watched things together. But kids do not know John Wayne. So upsetting!

I would love to hear how your children did on these questions. I would enjoy hearing the actual answers. Have a great week everyone.

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