Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Ignorance is bliss

I like watching quiz shows, I like pub quizzes, and I like learning facts and interesting things. Always have done.

So, I do despair whenever I watch a quiz on TV in which the laughing contestants say something like "Oooo geography is not my strong point. So I think I'll pick celebrities!"

I just want to reach into the TV, grab them by the throat and say "Ignorance is not a badge of honour, and knowing what happens in the world of TV and celebrities, is something you learn by default by simply switching your brain off and watching the goggle box...It should not be a category used to test knowledge...ARGH!...Now die in flames."

Watched Pointless today, and 3 of the teams that were left, couldn't name which well known rivers flowed through a series of obvious UK towns and cities. They all avoided saying Thames because the contestants knew that the public would know the Thames flows through London...Great.  So they guessed at the others and, blow me...The answers were shocking. The Severn through Norwich. The Nori through Norwich...I almost hit the crack pipe then and there in order to cope with my blood pressure (I posses no crack pipe, for those who wish to take me seriously). The friend of the young lady who said "Nori," was attractive, so my manly rage subsided rather swiftly, to be replaced with mutterings of shallow approval.

But not knowing the Severn flows through Worcester, or the Aire through Leeds. Bloody hell. The others I did know, but wasn't so arrogant as to expect the average person to know.

I blame it on the decline of geography as a school subject. It simply bores the fudge out of most pupils these days, and that makes me sad. Some smiling government appointed wazzock used to inform us geography teachers (I was one) that geography was changing, to look at issues and not simply people and places. This failed to even come close to the point of what geography should be, it is the story of the Earth and the beings that live on it...And it can be a glorious tale that overlaps geology, history, sociology, psychology, literature, biology...The list goes on. It is a subject with vast potential, and to see it treated so badly makes me weep. I used to love playing with the more challenging aspects of geography when I taught! I'd have my yr 11 classes dabbling with issues such as 'should we stop people breeding?' in response to resource pressures and our inability to give a damn for the planet. Great, engaging stuff...But not the official NC and exam body sanctioned topics like 'copying out pictures of natives beating Manioc in hollowed out logs and then saying "Deforestation is bad m'kay," for 5 sodding years.'

I found teaching around the subject taught the relevant exam knowledge by proxy, because if it was interesting and provided enough examples, it would tick the boxes required by the regulators anyway and the kids would be enthused to read and digest more of the subject independently...and my students results were really rather good. But driven out by politics and fools who thought they knew better by being yes men...I am lost to that trade, and can only content myself with cradling my head in front of quiz shows and breathing into a paper bag when somebody thinks Newcastle-Upon-Tyne is in Dorset, and the Welsh speak Cornish, or that Asia is a country etc.

Next time I hear somebody say "I don't do science," on a quiz show, I'll want large men to rush onto the set and break their knees whilst screaming "Why, you ignorant git, why!" over and over again.


Dripfed said...

Is this working?

Curmudgeon said...

Yes, it does seem to be working.

I saw that as well, and the ignorance was quite staggering. They also didn't know that Glasgow was on the Clyde and Newcastle on the Tyne. I suppose I can let them off not knowing that Norwich was on the Wensum, but thinking it was on the Severn!

And only 6/100 knew that Worcester was on the Severn. Truly a sad indictment of the state of geographical education in British schools, and a clear sign that many people never read maps.

Jon said...

How many people 'back in the day' actually knew these things though?