For over two hundred years the Founding Fathers of America have been a source of wisdom and insight for Americans. However, a national study carried out by a renowned historical society has revealed that middle and high schools in America frequently exaggerate the intelligence, achievements and superpowers of the country’s founding fathers.
“This is highly distressing,” said James Thomson, head researcher of the study. “Kids are learning a hyperbolic and frankly often untrue history of the United States. For example, according to our results, over one-third of tenth-graders in the nation believe that George Washington had heat vision.”
Participants in the study were given a battery of questions and tests to determine their level of knowledge with respect to Washington, Thomas Jefferson and other founders of the country. Results reveal that, among other statistics, 18% of all participants from sixth to twelfth grade think that John Hancock wrote the Declaration of Independence; slightly over one-half assert that Washington was the first president to take up residence in the White House; and about one in ten students believe that the Revolutionary War was won when several founders joined forces to form the American Justice Coalition, complete with colorful costumes for each member.
“With the resources we have, America’s schools should be the model for other countries to follow,” stated another researcher. “Instead France, Great Britain and the others are surely laughing at us. No one in England believes his or her country was created by a Superman.”
Perhaps the most disturbing results from the study came from the free-response section of the test, in which students were given a broad prompt word, such as “freedom,” and invited to expand on the subject with regard to their knowledge of the founding of America.
One student’s response read, “’Freedom’ was something created when America’s founders broke away from Medieval Britain. The instructions for making freedom were hidden in the Luve [sic] museum in London. Benjamin Franklin used his powers of invisibility to sneak into the museum one night and steal the recipe and leave an insulting note that made fun of King Lear, the sovrin [sic] of Britain at the time. When Ben got back to America he and George Washington mixed up some freedom and gave it to the citizens, which gave the people the ability to vote, write anything they wanted in newspapers, and torture people who didn’t like freedom, like Asians, Africans, other Europeans, Eskimos, and liberals.”
Such a passage seems like it would belong in a fifth-grader’s history report. Alarmingly, this error-ridden excerpt, which also declared that Washington had an intelligence quotient of 300 and was forty feet tall, was actually written by a college-bound high school senior.
“All this proves that schools are simply not doing enough to educate our young people about the reality of our nation’s beginning,” Thomson asserted, brandishing some of the offending test papers. “Washington did not build the White House out of the ‘melted-down bleached skulls of his enemies,’ as this paper states, nor was John Adams ‘raised by a radioactive buffalo, giving him the ability to morph into Bison Man.’ The level of ignorance inherent in our country’s education system is astounding!”
The teachers speak
Along with the participation of the students, dozens of teachers were asked to comment on the state of education regarding America’s founding. Many of the comments pointed to factors outside the schools that influenced students’ historical beliefs.
“Children today are more influenced by television and comic books than by their classes,” one teacher from Baton Rouge, LA, stated. “They see Batman and Spider-Man and want their national heroes to be as exciting and powerful as their make-believe superheroes. Someone, perhaps a parent, needs to take some responsibility and eliminate the influences that bring about such ridiculous notions. Our founding fathers were remarkable in many ways, and if our students would simply realize this they would have a great appreciation for these men and their accomplishments without having to invent outlandish backgrounds for them. Last week one of my students tried to tell me that James Madison invented the atomic bomb in order to kill the Indians!
“I actually had to explain to him that nuclear physics wasn’t even around until Lincoln needed a convenient way to eliminate the Satanists and end the Great Oceanic War, as chronicled in the graphic novel Dark Invasion.”