A Roy High School teacher has been suspended for having her students fill out a “Know Thyself” questionnaire.
First published by “Dear Abby” in the 1980s, the test asks students personal questions regarding sex, drug use and Republicanism to evaluate their worth as humans.
“Know Thyself” upset parents concerned with overreach in not only the personal information it sought from the kids, but also the potential negative categorizing of them based on the results.
Curious, I took the test as if I were the 17-year-old senior high school student I once was. I suspected the outcome already, but wanted to see how far I got before the bell rang. It didn’t take long.
Question No. 5 • “Ever been French-kissed?”
Me • “What? This is the stupidest test ever. I was French-kissed by a friend’s drunken mom when I was in the eighth grade.”
I quit answering after question No. 21. Not only is the test lame, but by then I’d also racked up the necessary 105 points to be classified as “hopeless and condemned.”
Keep in mind that I can afford to be honest now. Had I actually taken the “Know Thyself” test when I was in high school, I would have scored at most 17 points and been labeled “passionate but sensible.”
It would have been a lie, of course. After all, being branded as hopeless wouldn’t have bothered me then. But I wasn’t entirely stupid. Only a moron consciously gives the enemy the truth.
I’m not sure the questionnaire is all that relevant. It doesn’t really get into what a kid is like. Honestly, here’s what I expected to be asked in “Know Thyself.”
Q • Ever commit a felony?
M • Yup.
Q • Ever been arrested?
M • Duh.
Q • Ever cause more than $10,000 in damage during the commission of a crime?
M • Pretty sure.
Q • Ever try to hurt someone without caring whether it might kill them?
M • You bet.
Q • Ever attend school in such a state that the school nurse and the cops were called before first period was over?
M • Hmm, I vaguely remem … yes.
I’m not bragging. OK, maybe I am a little. Truth is, I’m rather impressed that I got out of my teenage years alive. So are my parents. Hell, most of my former teachers probably think I’m dead.
I have no problem with the teacher who administered the questionnaire, depending, of course, on the point. It’s a great example of being overly judgmental. It’s also a great indication of what people assumed was irretrievably horrible back then.
What concerns me about “Know Thyself” is that some kids are tender and impressionable enough to actually believe a negative conclusion from a pathetic test. Around here, some kids already get enough of that crap in church.
At best, the questionnaire’s results are merely generalized and fatuous pronouncements of where a kid might be at that particular moment. In my case, they would have been right. But kids change.
The real point is that there is no such thing as hopeless when dealing with young people. They’re still malleable and new. A lot can happen between the test and when they’re fully developed.
Bad as I was in high school (and later), I eventually encountered the right experiences, people and medications necessary to alter my life’s course and improve myself. Somewhat.
Today, I’m married, have great kids and grandkids, and am employed (sort of). Although it isn’t far compared to most, the progress is a bit impressive, given what I had to work with and how I started out.
It may take harder work for some, but no kid is completely hopeless.