Should There Be A Standard Body of Knowledge?

It was the question that launched a project:

"Who is Cecil B. DeMille?"

Me:  "You seriously don't know who Cecil B. DeMille is?  For Real?"

The Kid:  *Blank stare*

Me:  *Facepalm*  "He made the Ten Commandments with Charlton Heston and Yul Brynner!"

The Kid:  *Furrowed brow AND blank stare*

Me:  "The Greatest Show On Earth?"

The Kid:  *Eyes glazed over*

Me:  Didn't you ever watch the whole "Ten Commandments" extravaganza during Easter weekend at your grandparents' house?"

The Kid:  *Now looking at me like I had another head growing out of the side of my neck."

Me:  *Another Facepalm*

This exchange gave way to a conversation between myself, the "kid" who is 28 and another individual in his mid 40's like me.  Of course we gave the kid good natured grief for not knowing anything about Cecil B. DeMille, the Ten Commandments or their places in cultural and cinematic history; but it also opened up a larger discussion about a person's body of knowledge.

The topic of an individual's personal knowledge bank has been on my radar for the past few months.

It all started when I saw a PoliTech video of some college students who couldn't answer very basic---and I mean very basic----U.S. civcs questions.  I was appalled.

Wouldn't you be?

In the back and forth with friends and acquaintances, some folks just didn't understand why you should have a body of knowledge.  Why memorize facts and dates when you can simply look it up on your phone?

I disagree with that logic because I personally think that there are certain things a person should just know.  Smart phone or no smart phone.

Plus, our electronic devices can lose power or hit a "dead zone" with no service.  As a general rule, your brain doesn't.  And unlike your phone, you tend not to lose the knowledge you accumulate---for the most part.

Yes, I fully acknowledge the "if I don't use it, I lose it" phenomenon, but seriously folks, don't you think you should be able to name the Vice President of the United States without giving it too much thought?

Here's a list of walking around knowledge that I think you should be able to easily rattle off:

1.  The name of the President, Vice President and Speaker of the House of Representatives .

2.  The names of the two Senators for your state.

3.  The name of your United States Congressman and the district that he or she represents.

4.  The exact current combined number for both the United States Senate and the House of Representatives.

5.  The name of your city's mayor.

6.  The name of your alderman/city district representative

And that's just what I consider the basic civics portion which is a small part of the life skills and facts that should comprise your personal body of knowledge.

So I'm putting the question to you----what do you think everyone should know?  What knowledge should be stored up there in a person's noggin?  Just not in history but practical skills that can fix a problem or save a life.

Leave a comment and I'll compile the answers for a follow up post.

In the meantime, take a little quiz to see how you do on a comprehensive civics exam. I know that knowing history may not get the job done when you've blown a tire, but it is pretty important.

For the record, I missed 7 and got 78.79%

On your mark, get set...


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