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Posted at 9:02 PM ET, 12/28/2010

Can you correct the errors found in this Virginia textbook?

By Valerie Strauss
My colleague Kevin Sieff has a nice story on errors in some Virginia textbooks. Here’s a quiz to check your knowledge of history …

Can you correct these mistakes scholars found in “Our Virginia: Past and Present”? Finish the quiz to see the answers from Civil War experts.

By Valerie Strauss  | December 28, 2010; 9:02 PM ET
Categories:  Curriculum, Quizzes, Textbooks  | Tags:  African-American history, US history, Virginia, american history, civil war, confederacy, confederate, emancipation, five ponds press, history, slavery, textbook, textbooks  
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Next: University of Virginia reforms speech code


Is it me or is the page not working? I have submitted the answers three times and have not been directed to the correct answers.

Posted by: Rich13 | December 28, 2010 10:18 PM | Report abuse

Um, I only got two wrong! 75% is still a passing score! :-)

Posted by: debkakes1 | December 28, 2010 10:19 PM | Report abuse

"Your Results" tells me I got 7 out of 8 questions correct. First of all, there are nine questions in your quiz. Second, the answers I selected are all correct according to "Your Results." And finally, even if my score really was 7/8, since when is 87% not passing?
The quiz is entertaining, but if you're going to mock textbook writers for their proofreading errors, first remove the beam from thine own eye.

Posted by: glenn226 | December 28, 2010 10:19 PM | Report abuse

Something is very wrong with the scoring... there are NINE questions. I answered EIGHT of them correctly. But, it says I scored 7/8, not 8/9, and it tells me this is a failing score!

I know I didn't get 100%, but my score should certainly count as passing.

Posted by: mdennis74 | December 28, 2010 10:31 PM | Report abuse

It tells me I got 6 out of 8 correct for a score of 75%. However it shows that I only got one answer wrong. The other EIGHT were all answered correctly. Is the Virginia school system using the same grading system used here? If so their children are in a heap of trouble.

Posted by: pnwmainah1 | December 28, 2010 10:42 PM | Report abuse

Quiz functionality is not working well. Just as the textbooks should be edited better, this column and quiz should be tested before publication.

Posted by: mellwood1 | December 28, 2010 10:45 PM | Report abuse

The link to answers isn't working. But then, it is a school holiday!

Posted by: cjohnson1 | December 28, 2010 10:57 PM | Report abuse

Dear Genius:

You say that I missed 3 questions on your 9 question quiz, so I only got 4 right.

It is really funny that your newspaper criticizes the Virginia educators for mistakes.

You are pathetic.

Posted by: drelectrc | December 28, 2010 11:06 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, but even if steam was used in manufacturing, water is not a source of energy.

Posted by: Hurleybird | December 28, 2010 11:17 PM | Report abuse

most online dictionaries that i googled indicate that an armory either stores or manufactures weapons. it would seem that both listed answers are correct.

Posted by: mort_fin | December 28, 2010 11:29 PM | Report abuse

The results told me that an armory is a place to store, not manufacture weapons. However, in 1861 the U. S. government operated two armories, one at Springfield, Mass., the other at Harpers Ferry, Va., and both armories manufactured weapons. If you have any doubts, see Merritt Roe Smith, The Harpers Ferry Armory and the New Technology.

Posted by: Tom_English | December 29, 2010 12:23 AM | Report abuse

The combined casualties from the two Battles of Bull Run come to about 22,000, not 6,000.
The Historians say 22,000 is NOT "more than 6,000" (as the original question read). Now I remember why I majored in Chemistry, and never have been elected to the US Senate.

These dudes (and dudettes) deserve the Hank Paulson Medal with Oak Leaf Clusters and protective TARP, and, sadly, there is such a thing ...

"The obverse design features a portrait of Secretary Paulson with the inscriptions 74th Secretary of the Treasury and Henry M. Paulson, Jr."

Posted by: gannon_dick | December 29, 2010 12:39 AM | Report abuse

The 13th amendment was indeed passed by congress in January of 1865, so technically the book is factually correct (unless the book used the word 'ratified', which did not occur until December - this is not known due to the way the Post phrased the question).

Posted by: bryanmcoleman | December 29, 2010 8:08 AM | Report abuse

Flowing water is a source of energy as it can power a waterwheel.

Who cares what dates things happened? No wonder kids are bored with school

Posted by: RepealObamacareNow | December 29, 2010 8:17 AM | Report abuse

"It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education." Thank you Einstein! Also, that some children survive formal education!

Posted by: judithclaire1939 | December 29, 2010 8:27 AM | Report abuse

Even if this textbook has these errors (and some posters point out that some errors might not really be erros), I think that most parents would still prefer to educate their children in Virginia than in the District.

Posted by: WashingtonDame | December 29, 2010 8:38 AM | Report abuse

I believe there are more important questions if we are concerned about text quality.

How does the text help to support and develop enduring understanding?

How does the text support skill development?

How does the text build in scaffolding to support struggling readers and extensions to support gifted ones?

Posted by: mmccabe4724 | December 29, 2010 8:54 AM | Report abuse

The test is BAD regardless of accuracy. Errors or no errors - it's MINDLESS, MEMORIZED, REGURGITATION of meaningless facts. Sure - good to know but not an indicator learning. DO WE WANT KIDS TO WIN AT TRIVIAL PURSUIT OR BE ABLE TO THINK?

Posted by: jh13 | December 29, 2010 9:31 AM | Report abuse

It wouldn't give me my results...
but to answer some of the basic questions above:
1) if you don't know the basic facts, you can't actually discuss meanings intelligently.
2) Ratification is what makes it an amendment, not when Congress passes it by a majority - otherwise the Equal Rights Amendment would be on the books.
3) For Question #3, there are actually TWO Battles of Bull Run (since the south won the both, they aren't called the battle of Manassas), but for question #4, since it refers to the 1862 battle, it's much greater but if it's ambiguous, it's a push since the first battle had less than 6,000 casualties.
4) Although an armory can be used for manufacturing weapons, it's primary purpose has been to store weapons and for repair. a bit oddly stated but the basic meaning is right, you didn't go to the DC armory to have you weapon made.

Posted by: MadiganT | December 29, 2010 9:45 AM | Report abuse

Stupid test, although I only got two wrong. ON the Bull Run casualties it says "more than 6000". If it was 22,000 or a million that is still "more than 6,000". What tests like these AND the SOL tests do is focus on silly facts such as the month on a battle rather than the overall importance of something.

Posted by: rjma1 | December 29, 2010 9:48 AM | Report abuse

I'll admit I did a lot of guessing. I have a small issue with #9 in that water is not the original source of energy. Liquid water converted to steam carries the energy, but one would need to heat the water. Perhaps burning wood was the source of energy?


Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | December 29, 2010 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Question 4 is improperly structured. "Higher than 6,000" can mean any number, which, in fact, it did. So the statement is correct on its face but not the preferred baseline. Question 6, is ambiguous and can be correct or false depending on the context of "economy." Most historical economists support the statement that industrial output (in dollars) exceeded agricultural output. The reverse is correct as it applies to laborers. The U.S. economy in 1860 was in its 10th year of industrial expansion supported by a network of railroad lines above the Mason-Dixon line 2x that of the south. The south was primarily agricultural and this accounted for the same need for low cost labor as exists today (migrant workers replaced slaves). The industrial growth, especially within the textile mills in New England gave the south a market for its primary crop...cotton. It would be some 75 years after the civil war before cotton picking was effectively automated. Industrialization does not mean stationary location of factories. Railroads proved that. But at the time of the civil war, economic growth was heavily weighted to the north and the shifting balance of slave-to-free states without a corresponding "stimulus" for the south to industrialize set the stage for the conflict. Blame it on slavery, if you like. But the compelling reason was economical.

Posted by: wantingbalance | December 29, 2010 10:04 AM | Report abuse

Sorry, but even if steam was used in manufacturing, water is not a source of energy.

Posted by: Hurleybird | December 28, 2010 11:17 PM

Ever heard of a waterwheel or a hydroelectric dam?

Posted by: wireman65 | December 29, 2010 10:06 AM | Report abuse

Boy, what an embarrassing topic to be covering when your quiz is so poorly written and the functionality is so poor.

Posted by: Seytom1 | December 29, 2010 10:23 AM | Report abuse

Sorry, but even if steam was used in manufacturing, water is not a source of energy.

Posted by: Hurleybird | December 28, 2010 11:17 PM |
Have you ever seen a waterwheel? The energy from flowing water was used as a power source LONG before steam.

Posted by: lgaide | December 29, 2010 10:51 AM | Report abuse

As others have pointed out, the answer regarding industrialization is incorrect. Water mills where used to power some facilities, including grist mills, sawmills, and the like, but any type of facility that needed heat to transform materials - iron works, glass works, lead works, copper works, brick works, pottery/china factories, and of course weapons manufacturers (among others) used coal or wood to fire up materials so they could be melted/worked. This in turn resulted in smokestacks pouring out black or gray smoke.

Posted by: JohnMG123 | December 29, 2010 11:00 AM | Report abuse

SurveyMonkey works better than SurveyGizmo, which apparently needs some more work.

Posted by: washpost16 | December 29, 2010 11:03 AM | Report abuse

This test will not show whether your correct or incorrect. However, that being said, the questions are horribly phrased. For example:

The question on Bull Run

"And yet July 21, 1862 is a day that will long be remembered."
p. 118, Our Virginia
Yes, that's true
No, that's false

Of course the date is wrong as July 21, 1861 is when the Union troops engaged the Confederate forces at Bull Run. But more important is the year, which is 1861.

However, that being said, the battle of Bull Run is one of the more colorful and more interesting then this question even suggests. The following question is just as mundane.

While many were wounded and injured it was the civilian participation that was unusual. Why were civilians there? Were any injured or killed? Why were the Union troops impeded from their retreat? What effect did the insuing chaos have on the retreating Union troops?

I love history, but the way it is taught makes it dry, lifeless and boring.

But as these question used for this little mini-test prove dry, lifeless and boring with little in the way of thinking required.

Posted by: Tuathe | December 29, 2010 11:12 AM | Report abuse

Who cares what dates things happened? No wonder kids are bored with school

Posted by: RepealObamacareNow | December 29, 2010 8:17 AM

Exactly. BTW, why do people call teabaggers stupid?

Posted by: MrChip1 | December 29, 2010 11:20 AM | Report abuse

@ wireman65, JohnMG123: The energy source isn't water in that case. It's gravity. As the particular example involved smoke stacks, not relevant.


Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | December 29, 2010 11:36 AM | Report abuse

@MrChip - RON actually stated it fairly well. Concern with memorizing details will give you bored kids. I remember my 9th grade science class in Idaho. It covered pretty much the same material I'd done in 7th grade in Nebraska. I was bored out of my skull and the exams were multiple choice. My grade dropped to a C, which concerned my parents to no end. My recollection is I wound up doing a bunch of extra credit reports to bring up my grade to a B.

Memorizing the number of wounded at Bull Run would be boring. Getting the kids interested in the Civil War is something else entirely. Memorizing the color of the emissions from a factor, not so interesting. The discussion over the energy source, on the other hand, is interesting.


Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | December 29, 2010 11:45 AM | Report abuse

This is hilarious! I wouldn't trust as a teacher someone who can't even get the questions and answers in the same sequence and can't even supply answers to all the questions in the so-called answer sheet.

Would it be asking too much at least to do the quiz (and the answers) over? Good grief!

It's possible that the Post has finally reached the point where there is so much absolute junk on its Web site that the people managing it can no longer keep track of what's on it.

Posted by: jaded3 | December 29, 2010 11:54 AM | Report abuse

The WAPO blew it.

Today, an armory is used for the storage of weaponry.

Prior to the current way of acquisition management for weapons was developed, prior to and at the initial onset of battle during the War Between the States, the Federal's War Department used armories for the development, manufacturing and storage of weapons.

Posted by: Computer_Forensics_Expert_Computer_Expert_Witness | December 29, 2010 1:34 PM | Report abuse

The WAPO blew it.

Today, an armory is used for the storage of weaponry.

Prior to the current way of acquisition management for weapons was developed, prior to and at the initial onset of battle during the War Between the States, the Federal's War Department used armories served a number of purposes, including the development, manufacturing, assembly, test and evaluation of ne weapons and storage of weapons.

Posted by: Computer_Forensics_Expert_Computer_Expert_Witness | December 29, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Tried three times to take the test and got no "results". Are your IT people educated in VA?

Posted by: Afraid4USA | December 29, 2010 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Another stupid quiz. What was this supposed to show? I thought it was how wrong the textbooks are??

Posted by: hebe1 | December 29, 2010 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Southerners can read?????

Posted by: djmolter | December 29, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse

The quality of this history text, is not surprising in a state where the governor and state officials are still reluctant to state slavery as a cause of the Civil War.

Posted by: Sharpjohng | December 29, 2010 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Saying people were stunned by the combined casualties from both Bull Run battles cannot be truthful, because the battles occured more than a year apart. The stunningness could not be from the combination of the totals.

The name of the McLean house was only mis-spelled, not mis-identified, and McLean, Virginia is a community, not a region. Piedmont is a region. Northern Virginia is a region. Southside is a region. Tidewater is a region. McLean is not a region.

In a Civil War context, the factories that mattered were those thet smelted ore into cannons, rifles, railroad cars and tracks, and munitions. Those factories, such as the Tredegar Ironworks in Richmond, used coal.

Posted by: blasmaic | December 29, 2010 9:59 PM | Report abuse

Okay, I am not very a very good history student, but I am good at math. There are 9 questions. First time, it said I got 2 out of 7 right. I got 3 correct. Should have been 3 out of 9! Second time I got all correct and it stated that I got 7 out of 7. I'm sure the W & M History Professor is an expert in the facts of history but maybe needs to work on his counting ability. Just saying...

Posted by: concerned36 | December 30, 2010 6:22 PM | Report abuse

Let's use tests with similar ambiguity in many of their questions and scoring systems as accurate as this one to judge teacher effectiveness!

Posted by: Coachmere | January 1, 2011 10:51 PM | Report abuse

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