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TEST TELLS IF YOUR EDUCATION WAS PRIME OR JUST PRIME-TIME

SHARE TEST TELLS IF YOUR EDUCATION WAS PRIME OR JUST PRIME-TIME

If you don't know Socrates from Aristophanes, or Dostoyevski from Stravinsky, you may be illiterate. But the same is true if you don't know Hoss Cartwright from Maxwell Smart.

In today's "information age" not being able to read or write is an extreme handicap. From every corner of the nation we are hearing the call for more programs to help teach adults and children how to read, enabling them to function in society.First lady Barbara Bush has joined the bandwagon in leading the fight against illiteracy. The Boy Scouts of America have called illiteracy one of the five unacceptables of society. And state and local literacy coalitions are springing up everywhere.

It is obvious that the need to read is real.

But now the pressure is on. Illiteracy is not just an "I can't read and write" problem anymore. Even the educated have literacy barriers via modern technology and language used in the business, medical, industrial and legal professions.

How many of us are computer literate? And how about medical words and titles? It's a real pain in the stomach if you don't know a good gastroenterologist.

Nowadays we have to be literate in subjects that we rarely deal with and that are constantly changing. And while society dictates that we must learn all of this "newspeak," we must yet hold on to the traditional - the classics.

Just the other day, while perusing the avant-garde modeling magazine TAXI, I learned that while I am considered culturally illiterate, I am the equivalent of a Rhodes scholar (or as they put it, a "Rhoda scholar") when it comes to television. And to add insult to injury, the author said that being "teleliterate" is OK.

Sad but true, most of us baby boomers have a "Prime Time" education. To us the "greats" include "The Honeymooners," "I Love Lucy," "Happy Days," and M*A*S*H" - not Shakespeare, Milton, Aristotle, Euripides or Omar Khayyam.

If you don't believe me, or if you think you are more culturally literate than you are teleliterate, try answering a few of these questions courtesy of TAXI:

Provide the next line from the following: (A)"In Xanadu did Kubla Khan/A stately pleasure dome decree . . ." (B) "I think that I shall never see/ a poem lovely as a tree . . ." (C) "Beware the Jabberwock, my son/The jaws that bite, the claws that catch! . . ."

Well, how did you do? Now try these:

Provide the next line from the following: (A) "Come listen to a story/'bout a man named Jed . . ." (B) "The weather started getting rough/The tiny ship was tossed . . ." (C) "Here's the story/of a lovely lady/who was bringing up three very lovely girls . . ."

If you think that was bad, read on.

Who said the following: (A) "The gods visit the sins of the fathers upon the children." (B) "A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread - and Thou." (C) "Rome was not built in one day."

Now, the finale.

Who said the following: (A) "Live long and prosper." (B) "Na-noo, na-noo." (C) "Stifle it, dingbat."

There are more questions, but by now you have the idea. Although being teleliterate is OK, maybe it's time to turn our minds on and not the television.