A Test Every High School Student Should Take

An exam paper from the future from Financial Times columnist Gideon Rachman is an essay contest that demands thought and research about the world. The kind of tough world affairs questions parents wince when children seek the answer. Mr. Rachman is a serious thinker of the world that I seek out his writings.

An Exam Paper from the Future

(Note: the FT has an aggressive paywall, though registered users can access a handful of articles each  month for free. I am a print subscriber and I don’t even get online access.)

Mr Rachman explains the contest, which has no prize other than online publication, as:

Journalism is sometimes said to be the first draft of history. This article is the first draft of a history exam for students graduating in 2066. I have tried to imagine the questions future historians will ask about today’s political events.

To make the exercise more interesting, readers are invited to answer any of the questions below, from any section of the paper, and to send answers to essayquestion@ft.com. The three most interesting essays will be published online in the Financial Times. Answers should be received by September 20.

The questions are leading and loaded. It is not enough to simply discuss Vladimir Putin when the question calls him a tsar, the judgement in the question must itself be unpacked and challenged.

Another sample that courts controversy, “How much of a threat was post-revolutionary Iran to the Middle East and to the world order?”

The topics cover the globe and while lumping African and Latin America together is crude, the questions, and the online comments to them, are worth serious consideration for us all on the issues of the day and how they will play out in a half-century. 2066 is not only 50 years hence, it is also a millennium from the Battle of Hastings that shaped the Western Europe and the UK.

It just so happens that I will be guest teacher at my high school later this month and I am about to assign homework!

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  • james

    Dang – glad I don’t go to YOUR high school! In the words of my kids, “I’d be all like, ‘Bye, Felicia’.”

  • @james – I am fortunate my parents put me in an academically rigorous school and maintain connections to it this day. I realize the questions are a stretch even for educated adults however it should not be beyond a high school student level to research one and form an argument.