Education: Is This Our World?

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on November 23, 2016 in Immoral Conversations |

I’ve seen quite a few videos on YouTube recently where a television presenter has interviewed ordinary people on the street, asking them a series of easy general knowledge questions. The answers have been, to put it mildly, disappointing. Then I also spent some time reading through lists of Tweets, Facebook updates, Yahoo Questions and similar, all of which had to do with general knowledge and intelligence. Amusing, but also scary.

To be honest, most of the videos discussing Tweets, and all the other social media spoutings, used exactly the same examples time and time again, as if there are either very few to choose from, or the presenters couldn’t be bothered to find their own. I tend toward the latter, having been on Twitter for a long time now, and having seen many examples on my Timeline.

It’s not difficult to find examples of a lack of general knowledge – or downright dumbness – on the Internet. No one needs to check through other posts on the subject to bolster their own entries or videos, there is enough original content out there to keep the genre alive for a long time to come. However, it is not just the standard stupid comments which come out, when you look, but prejudices too. And a lot more besides.

That the Statue of Liberty could be confused with the Mona Lisa might be acceptable, in pre-kindergarten. There are several liberal arts subjects – such as Art and Music – which are being neglected in our school system, and other ones which concentrate too much on the prejudices of an educational board, rather than real knowledge and facts. There are even people who cannot accept what they see right in front of their own eyes, having a prejudice against it. Diet is one good example, and I know this from personal experience having been a vegetarian all my life and, if those who were there at the start are to be believed, having had no chance of survival beyond my third birthday.

Of course, when it comes to diet, you need to know what you’re doing. Taking one form of nutrition out of your diet without replacing it isn’t going to work in the long run. Interesting to see, however, that the American Heart Association recommends dropping red meat from your diet and cutting back on all other forms of meat in order to remain healthy. A good selection of vegetables, fruit, nuts take a higher priority than any form of meat here, and they must have some idea of what they’re talking about.

Leaving aside the health problems, I can well understand how a child might be confused about sugar and salt. If we learn in chemistry class that two different chemicals cancel one another out, why should that not apply to cooking too, since sugar and salt are, effectively, chemicals too. These are things which need to be taught, cooking doesn’t come naturally, and here it is more of a failing on all sides when a 13-year-old doesn’t know. But when do we first learn how to cook? How many people see all the fresh products in their supermarket or grocery store, and still go for the less-than-healthy ready-made products, not so much out of convenience, more because they do not know how to make a meal themselves?

I am a Millennial, I guess, going from my birth date. That is, one of these people who doesn’t converse with other people because I am always looking at my cell, who doesn’t wish to buy a house because holidays are more important, who expects rapid advancement to management without having earned it, and so on. I don’t know how many different prejudices against Millennials I have seen in the press, and I’ve lost account of the number of accusations about what I / we do and do not do simply because of when we were born. I’m sure Generation X, the Baby Boomers and all the others experienced exactly the same in their time. But I do tend to agree it is hard to have a decent conversation with some people of my age unless it is by text. With some I am sure it would require a major surgical procedure to remove their cell from their hands, and I’ve often wished I could just slap one across a room when I see a group of young people out eating or as a group elsewhere, but with their cell taking all their attention.

This is education. One of the questions asked in these general knowledge interviews was how many stars are on the American flag. Another asked where the Boston Tea Party took place, in which city. I’ve seen Tweets from people looking forward to leaving the United States because they’re traveling to New York or Alaska to live. Even one from a woman who was upset to discover that Alaska is not an island, but attached to the mainland. She blamed the maps, of course, which show something else.

Then there are those who know better, even better than someone who has been doing a job all their adult life. I heard recently of a man who took his date to a Sushi restaurant – I think it was a live-Tweeting event from someone at the next table – and proceeded to show his total macho-ignorance right from insisting that he didn’t need to see a menu to order, and would also order for his date without consulting her. Doomed to failure.

I’m also sure it has happened to all of us that we’ve mis-read something, be it a menu or something else. In London – all that time ago – I was taken to a quality restaurant near Harrods in Knightsbridge, and my partner ordered fish to eat. That’s what she got, fish. No vegetables or salad, no sauce or bread. Just fish. Because that’s what was on the menu, and that’s what she ordered. She, however, didn’t try to place the blame on anyone else; we laughed it off and learned.

This language thing is something which is going to come to the fore more and more in the future: why, in an English-speaking country, must we have signs and descriptions in other languages? Why do people talk to each other in foreign tongues? Aside from the fact that the first European language in the United States was Spanish – before it became the United States – and a second was French, we should remember that the first or original languages here are ones which no one learns any more. Native American. Perhaps we should all learn these languages. Better still, of course, would be to learn a foreign language regardless, then we might appreciate how difficult it is for some of our neighbors to learn English, be more understanding and helpful to them.

Or we could take a look at some of those people leaving our education system right now, whose parents and grandparents were born in the United States, who have no other language other than English, and still cannot manage to speak and write it.

Look how well we know those nearest and dearest to us. The above took place in France, but might just as easily have happened anywhere in the world. Fidelity, trustworthiness, honesty, all seem to apply to everyone else and not to us. I doubt that the woman involved here was too helpful with giving hints on a suitable name for the baby, but I can well imagine she had some ripe and interesting names for other members of her direct family!

Not everyone has children, and I can understand well enough why some do not wish to be ‘blessed’ by the patter of tiny feet at all hours of the day and night. For some a pet – more likely to be a dog or a cat than a parrot – is enough family for them, and everything that can be done to make their life perfect is done. Not that I would necessarily sacrifice my life-style for an animal, and I’d certainly not come up with such an excuse to return something to the store. Whether the return was accepted or not I leave to your own imagination.

The burdens of a society which insists on women – and men to a lesser extent – conform to certain standards. Cleanliness, being polite, knowing what you are doing, these standards I can accept without batting an eyelid. Why, though, do we have to cover our faces with chemicals and risk illness through a lack of real sunlight on our faces just because society has a catwalk model picture of what a woman should look like? Why are celebrities who allow themselves to be photographed without make-up called brave? When was the last time we accepted someone for being who they are, blemishes included?

Google is your friend, it used to be said. Before that we had books and things. Nowadays even checking the Internet to find out something is too hard for some people. Had they bothered, this is probably what would have come up first:

This is what the Bible says about Noah’s wife beginning in Genesis 7:7. The Bible does not give her name, however, according to Jewish tradition her name is Naamah – the sister of Tubal-cain, a descendant of Cain, the son of Adam and Eve (see Genesis 4:22). Why Tubal-cain’s sister (a daughter of Lamech by his wife Zillah) should be specifically mentioned is unknown. Jewish tradition made her Noah’s wife. Her name, meaning “the beautiful” or “the pleasant one,” reflects the worldly mind of the Cainites, who looked for beauty rather than for character as the chief attraction in women. (Source)

No relation to Joan of Arc, of course, who fought against the English for the French and was executed. And it is clear why most Christians wouldn’t know the name of Noah’s wife; women play a very minor, inferior role in the Bible, often as slaves or vassals and without a soul.

Doesn’t history class in the United States include European history, just as a quick sketch? I seem to remember hearing about Joan of Arc, about Martin Luther, about Oliver Cromwell and Napoleon Bonaparte. American history didn’t start with Christopher Columbus or the Mayflower.

This one, about a teacher who has to be right because he or she is the teacher, strikes a note with me. I remember reading a note from a teacher to a parent about a child who had corrected the teacher, and was right. The teacher complained about the correction, even though the child was right, because his standing in the class was of more importance than the child’s education.

School education systems which do not keep up with the times. Here in Germany there are about three days in the school year where teachers have to attend their own educational courses, and they are expected to keep up to date with changes in their own field, partially so that they can teach and partially so that they know which textbooks to recommend for the following year. Isn’t this the same in the USA? I thought it was. Then I remembered that the school courses are decided upon by an educational board, for each individual State, and the people sitting on these boards, well, we all have our own opinions about such lay-people.

You see, it’s not just Americans who have a problem with geography; although I would have expected a customs officer charged with doing passport control to have a slightly better world-knowledge than this one appears to have.

There are thousands of similar postings across the Internet, and in real life too. We could probably spend our entire lives laughing over the apparent stupidity of other people – and they over our ignorance – and never come near the end of possibilities for further mirth. Or, better still, some of those people in charge of educational standards – and a good few parents too – could take a few notes, see where there are problems, and react accordingly. A good basic knowledge of the world is essential, since we live here and are going to meet up with countless other people from elsewhere, even if we don’t leave the comfort of our own State or county. Good education makes for better understanding. Travel makes for even better, but education comes first and is a must; we can catch up on the travel side of things with National Geographic from the comfort of the couch.

As far as I know all of these are originals, not used by anyone else on YouTube or elsewhere. It’s not that difficult to find new ones, we don’t need to regurgitate the same things over and over again just to get the number of clicks on our videos or websites higher. These example all come from one site, which I highly recommend for its amusement factor, and to show that your life is not that bad. There’s always someone having a worse day than you are, and humor works wonders.

  • Viktoria Michaelis.

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