Education

Health quiz grills ninth-graders on support for ‘pro-environmental candidates’

According to a health quiz given to all freshmen at New Canaan High School in suburban Connecticut, students who don’t vote for “pro-environmental candidates in elections” or write to “elected leaders about environmental concerns” are not well.

Any 14-year-old student at the ritzy public high school who fails to “reuse” “tin foil” or isn’t “a good listener” is also in bad shape.

The Daily Caller received the entire “How WELLthy Are You?” quiz via email. It’s a series of 60 statements neatly divided into six sections. Quiz takers are asked to rate themselves on a 1-4 scale for each statement.

Of the six sections, the “Environmental Health” section contains the most hilariously biased set of statements.

“I vote for pro-environmental candidates in elections” is one of the statements.

“I write my elected leaders about environmental concerns” is another one.

Still other statements in the section include “I report people who intentionally hurt the environment” and “I try not to leave the faucet running too long when I brush my teeth, shave, or bathe.”

Some statements in the other five sections are also nothing if not interesting. For example, the “Spiritual Health” section contains this hopelessly confused religious statement: “I have faith in greater power, be it a God-like force, nature, or the connectedness of all living things.”

There’s a short, straightforward scoring system at the end. Quiz takers with an ideal score would have awarded themselves four points for each statement, for a total of 40 points in each section. The worst score in each section is a 10, obviously.

A score of 35-40 points in each category allegedly indicates that New Canaan ninth-graders are “practicing good health habits” and “setting an example” for “family and friends to follow.” It is mathematically impossible for ninth-graders to achieve this score in the “Environmental Health” section if they “rarely, if ever” vote for “pro-environmental candidates” or write to “elected leaders about environmental concerns.”

A score below 20 in any of the six sections allegedly indicates that students are “taking serious and unnecessary risks” with their health and possibly are “not aware of the risks and what to do about them.”

An assistant principal at New Canaan High School, Ari Rothman, told TheDC that the ninth-grade health curriculum is structured around “the Six Dimensions of Wellness,” which appears to be a model of health and wellness developed by a nonprofit outfit called the National Wellness Institute. 

Rothman stressed that students “don’t have to answer all the questions” and that the quiz isn’t graded. Health teachers use the quiz merely to introduce the curriculum.

“It’s a reflective piece that gets kids thinking in terms of these six dimensions of wellness. The intention is never to grade it.”

The assistant principal also said that “kids are specifically told not to answer questions 2, 5 and 6 in the ‘Environmental Health’ section.”

Those statements involve reporting environmental damage, voting for “pro-environmental” candidates and writing politicians about the environment, respectively.

Rothman added that New Canaan High’s health teachers have been using the quiz for a few years. He and the teachers have discussed revising the quiz by removing those statements and a few others, he noted. However, they haven’t gotten around to it.

The fine print at the bottom of the last page of the quiz attributes the document to the McKinley Health Center on the flagship campus of the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana.

The director of the health center, Robert Palinkas, told TheDC that he did not know the origin of the quiz, but he was adamant that no one at the University of Illinois produced it. He suggested that the quiz is at least 10 years old and possibly much older.

“The content isn’t timely or appropriate,” he said.

Palinkas also promised that the quiz would disappear from the McKinley Center. However, the McKinley Center webpage still maintains a webpage containing the entire quiz. (Update: the page now appears to have been erased.) It is generally — though not exactly — a verbatim copy of the quiz given to ninth-graders at New Canaan High.

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