Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The 10 Most Famous American Historical Figures

USA Today had an article last week about a survey of 2,000 high school juniors and seniors in all 50 states. They were asked to name 10 of the most famous Americans in history. After reading their responses, I posed the same question to my 5 year old DD. Here are her answers:

1. George Washington
2. Abraham Lincoln
3. Benjamin Franklin
4. Paul Revere
5. Thomas Edison
6. Alexander Graham Bell
7. Neil Armstrong

She also guessed Pasteur, Mozart, and Bach. Okay, so her understanding of the national origin of historical figures is still a little fuzzy at this point :-) But overall she managed to come up with a respectable list.

The answers given by the government-school educated teens?

1. Martin Luther King Jr.: 67%

2. Rosa Parks: 60%

3. Harriet Tubman: 44%

4. Susan B. Anthony: 34%

5.Benjamin Franklin: 29%

6. Amelia Earhart: 25%

7. Oprah Winfrey: 22%

8. Marilyn Monroe: 19%

9. Thomas Edison: 18%

10. Albert Einstein: 16%

So there's an overlap of exactly 2 individuals. I'll leave it up to you to decide which list you think does a better job at answering the question...

(HT: Grant Jones at "The Dugout")


jennifer said...

Ack! Marilyn Monroe and Opray Winfrey scored higher than Edison and Einstein???

Barbara Frank said...

Well, if the question was fame, then all those names qualify, since you can't quantify fame. Not a surprising way to phrase the question, considering we live in a culture that worships fame.

I think the answers to this question reveal so much about the responders and what they've learned over their lifetimes, how they spend their time, etc.

Personally, I'm just grateful Paris Hilton and Britney Spears weren't on the list of teens' answers, and not surprised they weren't on your daughter's list :)

Zak said...

If you read how the reoprt was done they asked students to name the 10 most famouse americans then they asked them to name the 10 most famous american women, then combined the 2 list and reported as "The Most Famous Americans" intentionally skewing the results