Friday, November 8, 2013

Don't Know Much About History

I failed a history test yesterday.

In my defense, I haven’t been to class all semester - or even this decade. In fact, I haven’t been in a history class since the turn of the century. But the fact is, I failed. I freely admit I got a 64 on the test, which covered roughly the years 1800 to 1835.

So why am I taking a history test? Boredom and curiosity mostly.

I had some downtime at work on Thursday and one of the professors on campus had mentioned that he was giving his students a test that day. I thought it would interesting, and possibly humiliating, to see how I’d do on an era of history that I have long since stopped thinking about. Except for the HBO series on John Adams, I’m not sure I’ve read or watched anything on this era since I last studied it in school sometime in 1999 or 2000.

The test was a 50-question, multiple choice test so just by guessing I should have gotten a 20. (There were five potential answers for each question.)

There were a few things on the test I actually remembered learning in school, such as Eli Whitney inventing the cotton gin or Robert Fulton inventing the steam engine. Ok, I wouldn’t have gotten Fulton correct if it was a fill-in-the-blank test, but seeing his name triggered the knowledge of what he invented.

But I had no clue why Andrew Jackson wanted to kill the Bank of the US in 1832 or what the name of the scandal involving Jackson’s Secretary of War and the recently widowed Peggy O’Neal was called. I didn’t even know there was a Federalist meeting at the end of the War of 1812 where they threatened to secede from the US over the war let alone what the meeting was called. I also had no idea what the Tallmadge Amendment of 1820 was, though now I know that it’s what the Missouri Compromise attempted to address.

I’m slightly disappointed I only got a 64 on the test. Going it, I was kind of hoping for at least a 70, but I knew that was a lofty goal. And who knows, maybe I’ll take another test from another professor in a different subject and see how I do on that one. To be honest, it was kind of fun taking the test and challenging myself that way. In related news, I need to reexamine my definition of fun.

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