Multiple choice

Of 13-year-olds: “Geography scores are even worse. Most did not understand time zones, and a quarter thought Canada was a dictatorship,” seen here.

They don’t really think Canada is a dictatorship, any more than they think Canada is a species of Acipenseridae. It was probably a multiple choice question, with one of the choices “dictatorship.” Some number filled in that bubble, for whatever reason – because it was A, or because they were playing connect-the-dots, or because “dictator” is a funny work. Some, if asked “what is Canada’s form of government?” would have said “It’s a dictatorship.” But then, if a multiple choice question asked seventh graders “what’s a dictatorship?” and one of the choices was “an aircraft carrier,” some would have said a dictatorship was an aircraft carrier.

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