I was fascinated, like everyone else, by the findings that Americans have trouble passing the citizenship test:
I’m curious about the questions people missed. It’s harder for me to understand why it is important that people know there are 27 amendments to the constitution. Two of them cancel out anyway so I feel like there should be 25. The short answer is that the fact isn’t important, but the adjacent knowledge and understanding you probably gained in order to know the fact is important. The fact is ground zero, but the blast site is the important stuff (Does that analogy work? There should be a way to have people vote on whether an analogy works so a writer can change it; Of course, an analogy only needs to work so much in a context. Forcing people to have a stout think about one may skew the question).
Still, is the blast zone around 27 modifications to the Constitution important? By contrast, knowing that the Constitutional Convention was held in 1787 and not 1776 is important. It was 11 years after the Declaration of Independence which highlights that at first America was a nation of revisionists. They were risk-takers and experimenters. It was a big national do-over. We modified, tinkered, fixed the original document. It suggests evolution, growth: an attempt to get the balance right.
In our current political moment, knowledge that puts us back in touch with that moment of national revision does seem to me to be helpful in putting our current political situation in context.
On a separate matter: I wonder what the 10 most important facts are about American citizenship. There’s no way to actually come up with an answer, but it would be fun to think through.