Teachers Are Sharing the Surprising Things Their Teenage Students Don’t Know

As teachers, we expect to build background knowledge. After all, students come to our classrooms with vastly different experiences, backgrounds, and educations. Still, sometimes they manage to catch us off guard with things they don’t know, as evidenced by the responses to this trending Reddit thread.

Those responses might seem pretty surprising—if you don’t teach high school. But other teachers were quick to add the surprising things their students don’t know.

(By the way, teachers aren’t to blame here. Stay tuned for a list of who is.)

How to use a ruler

…or read a thermometer

Their addresses

Note: Some students might not know their addresses or their parents’ phone numbers if they move or switch carriers often.

Their own middle names

Some AP students don’t know there are AP tests

The fact that Alaska is not southwest of California (because that’s how it is on the map)

Actually, just maps in general.

Who won the Revolutionary War (high school juniors)

Odd vs. even numbers

Their multiplication facts

The months of the year

How to write an address and where to put a stamp

Which letters are vowels

How to tell time

And finally…what’s in a deck of cards

Hearing this list, it’s easy for people to blame teachers or students’ families for these gaps in knowledge. But that’s not accurate. If anyone deserves an indictment, it’s:

  • Widely-accepted grading policies that make it possible for students to do nothing and receive full credit
  • Literacy “experts” who taught an entire generation of children to read via guessing despite teachers’ objections
  • Push from leadership to focus on “fun” and “engaging” instead of best practices in pedagogy, including memorizing
  • Legislators who cut funding that results in larger class sizes, unmanageable workloads, and dismal working conditions

Just want to make sure we’re all clear on that.

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