Filed under: Education, History, Pop Culture, Television, United Kingdom | Tags: 24's Jack Bauer, Buzz Lightyear, Misconceptions of Schoolchildren
I think we are making a vast mistake to let the federal government get its grasping hands on our children’s education. It is one thing for a country to insist that its children receive an education, and quite another to turn the whole thing over to central planning.
Once again, Britain has become a bad example. This time it’s education, though usually we look to the U.K. for what not to do in the realm of health care.
A study of 2,000 British schoolchildren revealed that one in five kids believe that Buzz Lightyear was the first person to set foot on the moon. One in twenty believes that Counter Terrorist Jack Bauer was the brains behind the Gunpowder plot that blew up the houses of Parliament. And it’s not just history.
A third did not know that Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone, and one in five thought it was Charles Darwin. Eleven percent thought Isaac Newton discovered fire and Albert Einstein was Frankenstein’s brother. One in twenty thought Christopher Columbus discovered liposuction, not America.
Twelve percent of kids thought the battle of Britain took place in space, and one in six think Darth Vader’s Deathstar is the farthest planet from Earth.
One in six failed to identify US President Barack Obama, claiming he was Mr. T from the A-Team, but a whopping 65 percent knew Britney Spears shaved her head.
We laugh at these sad misconceptions, but if the same survey were conducted in our own country, I shudder to think of the results. It is sad that kids know more about celebrity culture than about history and world events. Popular culture is very dominant, and the TV is more ubiquitous in the home than good history books.
The British research was carried out to mark the launch of the What on Earth? Wallbook which details and illustrates historical events from the big bang to the present day. So one might take the survey with at least a tiny grain of salt, as its purpose is to sell the new “wallbook.”
However, it was not too long ago that I saw a small article noting that Winston Churchill had been removed from the British curriculum. Go figure.