Fictitious Reviews

‘Facts and Dates’ takes off on college campuses

Campus News Reporting Service
Ann Arbor, MI

   ‘Facts and Dates’ is the latest college craze. It’s not a dance or rock band, but a no-nonsense college course about, yes, facts and dates. The course arose out of some simple facts about high school seniors: 50% of them can’t pick out their home state on a map of the U.S., 70% don’t know who their state governor is, and 66% don’t know the dates of the U.S. Civil War.


    Appalled at the “abysmal ignorance” of American high schoolers in geography and history, Cleveland’s Joramy Institute created a ‘Facts and Dates’ course for college students. The course comes complete with a paperback book titled, appropriately enough, Facts and Dates You Should Know. It lists 2000 important facts and dates, and an on-line program with the same information. The Joramy Institute

Facts & Dates You Should Know

The Joramy Institute, Cleveland

offers free, detailed information to any interested college about how to structure the course. So far over 120 colleges offer the course for one-hour extra credit. Only one college -- Macalaster, in St. Paul, MN -- has made it a requirement for graduation.


   The Joramy Institute’s founder and president, Cordell Kinglsey, says his goal is to make the ‘facts and dates’ course a requirement for graduation in all liberal arts colleges. “There is no excuse,” he says, “for our students to graduate college ignorant about who fought in World War II, who built the atom bomb, what ocean Hawaii is in, or who is buried in Grant’s Tomb.”


   Many college professors seem to scoff at Kinglsey’s emphasis on facts and dates. “Of course facts and dates are important,” says Northwestern University Professor Harold Tweeby, “but that’s not what students come to college to learn. They come to learn about ideas, philosophy, social change.” To which Kinglsey replies: “People like Professor Tweeby are so misguided, so isolated in their ivory tower, they think knowledge is only some free floating, subjective, ‘how-do-you-feel-about-this-write-me-an-essay’ proposition.


   “It is obscene - yes, that’s the right word, obscene,” Kinglsey says, “for students to get through a course, say, on American History, and not know that Italy was our enemy in World War II. Yet that’s the case for 62% of high school seniors. It’s a failure of our education establishment for any student to graduate high school and think West Virginia is the western region of Virginia (47%) or that New Mexico is a foreign country (38%). And these ignorances are carried over to college. How many high school graduates know who Neville Chamberlain was, or the role he played in Munich? You think that’s not important for today’s world?”



    The 2000 facts and dates in the book of that name are divided into 3 main areas: History, Geography, Arts and Science. The college quiz, which students take by computer (after registering and paying a course fee), includes 100 multiple-choice questions taken directly from this list; 80 correct answers is a passing grade. The Joramy Institute monitors the quiz and changes it four times a year. It's also important to know that a single fact - say, that Sherman marched his army through Georgia in the fall of 1864 - can be asked numerous ways. (Who marched through Georgia? In what state did Sherman's famous march take place? When was the march?) In this way the 2000 items can generate several thousand different questions.


    Students may take the test at any time once they register for the course. However, anyone not passing must wait three months before taking it again, at which time the questions are different (but still from the same 2000 items in the book). “The real goal,” Kinglsey says, “is that once students know what century the Civil War took place, or who Chamberlain was, they will be more attuned to the world around them, and more receptive to new information. There are obviously more than 2000 important facts and dates, and ideas are important. But we must inculcate a framework of knowledge that students can build on.”


   Howard McGraw, Dean of Arts and Sciences at University of Wisconsin, Madison, agrees. “This is a great idea,” he says, “one of those ‘whose time has come.’ The course requires no extra faculty, the students take it for extra credit, and the information is important.” Wisconsin is not ready to make it mandatory for college freshman, but is considering such a move.


    For a sample list of The Joramy Institute’s Facts and Dates, see below.




The French Revolution began in 1789. The King at the time, Louis XVI, and his wife Marie Antoinette, were executed on the guillotine in 1793.


The Wright Brothers, from Dayton, Ohio, carried out their first manned plane flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina in 1903. While there may have been isolated flights by others before 1903, the Wright Brothers are credited with inventing the airplane.


World War II began September 1, 1939, when German troops invaded Poland. The type of invasion – massive, quick movement of armored divisions across the border – became known as ‘blitzkreig’. Two days later, September 3, France and Britain declared war on Germany.



The largest U.S. state in land area is Alaska, land area 656,425 miles. Its capitol is Juneau.


The Mississippi River flows from Northern Minnesota to Southern Louisiana, a distance of 2,552 miles; the river begins 1,475 feet above sea level.


The oldest U.S. city still in existence is St. Augustine, Florida, founded September 1565.


Arts and Sciences

Mark Twain lived from 1835 to 1910, and is best known for the novel “Huckleberry Finn.” His real name was Samuel Clemens.


My Fair Lady, one of the longest running broadway musicals (1956 to 1962), was based on Pygmalion, a 1912 novel by George Bernard Shaw. It was also made into a very successful movie (1964).


Beethoven, considered one of the greatest classical music composers, lived from 1770-1827. He is best known for 9 symphonies (including the most famous, #3, the ‘Eroica’), 5 piano concertos (most famous #5, the ‘Emperor’) and numerous chamber works.


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