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Cultural Literacy Test

By David Bilka, Cypress Creek High School, Orlando FL

1.The First President after the Revolution____________________________
2.Folk hero who stole from the rich and gave to the poor____________________________
3.The most common food consumed for the Christmas holiday____________________________
4.Approximate percentage of people who live in public housing in cities____________________________
5.The most important meal of the day in which the most food is consumed____________________________
6.The most common ritual for children to celebrate the Easter holiday____________________________
7.On average the most common dancing style ____________________________
8.Approximate percentage of children in day care before school age____________________________
9.Most common drink offered to a guest in one's home
Most common drink offered to a guest in a professional situation
10.On average the two professions that offer the least amount of pay.____________________________

On the surface this seems to be a relatively easy literacy test with ten questions that all have an answer that would fit mainstream American culture i.e. Folk hero who stole from the rich and gave to the poor - Robin Hood. However, unbeknownst to the students the literacy test is actually testing their literacy of Slovak culture. Inevitably students "fail" this test miserably. Each time I have given the test it has been the rare student who has inquired prior "What culture is it?"

In the World History class the test is utilized when we first begin studying the history of a non-European region to introduce the students to the idea that the assumptions they have living in a Western society do not always hold true in other regions of the world. In American history, the cultural literacy test has been used to illustrate how literacy tests have been used as a means to discriminate throughout US history, whether to "prove" how recent immigrant groups were inferior to "oldcomers" or to prevent to African-Americans from voting. Student's experience first hand how cultural literacy tests can be and have been used as a discriminatory measure.

Slovak answers to the test

1) Vaclav Havel -- Slovaks regard their revolution as the fall of communism. Vaclav Havel was the first post -communist President of the former Czechoslovakia.

2) Janosik -- Slovak folk hero who stole from rich Hungarian aristocrats and gave to the poor Slovak peasants

3) Fish -- consistent with Christian symbol

4) 90% + -- a relic of the communist era when communist leaders destroyed large segments of cities, confiscated most private property and built massive apartment complexes owned by the state

5) Lunch

6) Boys throw water on girls and mockingly whip them.

7) Polka

8) Less than 5% -- daycare is virtually non-existent in Slovakia

9) Some form of Liquor
Coffee or Tea

10) Doctors and Teachers -- because most Doctors are still paid by the state as are teachers their salaries have remained at socialist period wages while individuals working in the new capitalistic economy earn the most