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Things your students don't know...

Discussion in 'Secondary' started by SueL107, Mar 5, 2011.

  1. I'm shocked. My (apparently) highly intelligent Year 10 and 11 students are, it would seem, sadly lacking in basic general knowledge. Among the things I have discovered in the last week that they don't know are:
    • Who Beethoven was ("Isn't he a dog?")
    • Who Joan of Arc was
    • The fact that we used to burn people at the stake (viz Joan of Arc)
    • Why we used to burn people at the stake
    • How else we used to execute people
    • That Austria is in the continent of Europe
    • That there is a Chinatown in London
    • What a suburb is
    • That Hawaii is in America
    • That Charles Dickens lived in the 19th century
    • That some Canadians speak french
    • Where Libya is
    • That Africa is a continent
    I can honestly say I knew all these things (and more) when I was 16. I mean I don't expect them all to be Einsteins, but I do wonder whether they all walk around blissfully unaware of everything that they are not explicitly told?
     
  2. I'm shocked. My (apparently) highly intelligent Year 10 and 11 students are, it would seem, sadly lacking in basic general knowledge. Among the things I have discovered in the last week that they don't know are:
    • Who Beethoven was ("Isn't he a dog?")
    • Who Joan of Arc was
    • The fact that we used to burn people at the stake (viz Joan of Arc)
    • Why we used to burn people at the stake
    • How else we used to execute people
    • That Austria is in the continent of Europe
    • That there is a Chinatown in London
    • What a suburb is
    • That Hawaii is in America
    • That Charles Dickens lived in the 19th century
    • That some Canadians speak french
    • Where Libya is
    • That Africa is a continent
    I can honestly say I knew all these things (and more) when I was 16. I mean I don't expect them all to be Einsteins, but I do wonder whether they all walk around blissfully unaware of everything that they are not explicitly told?
     
  3. tafkam

    tafkam Occasional commenter

    I often find myself wondering such things... but I also can't ever quite work out how it was that I came to know such things or why it is that such things are passing them by.
    I do wonder if maybe we didn't ought to introduce a weekly pub quiz into every school from Y4 or 5 onwards...
     
  4. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    I thought Hawaii was in the middle of the Pacific Ocean - just politically linked to the US of A
    But it is true that a lot of teenagers don't know much "general knowledge".
    P
     
  5. One of the greatest sources of general knowledge is Radio 4. I was brought up to listen to it. My mother always listened and as there was only limited hours of television, it was pretty much all I had to listen to. However I remember continuing to listen when I went away to uni.
    My son now at uni is a very keen listener and much in demand for pub quiz teams. He has an American girlfriend who he met here. She is a keen quizer and now a complete convert to Radio 4 to which she listens via the internet when she is home in the US.
    If you spend much time listening to yoof orientated stations you quickly realise how dumbed down and content lite they are. Nuf said!
     
  6. Chica77

    Chica77 New commenter

    A lot of mine don't even know what county they live in, let alone what a continent is!
    I think the problem is that most of them don't read at all, apart from their texts. I loved reading when I was younger (still do) and I think you gain a lot of general knowledge from that.
    I don't know about the radio...I always listened to Radio 1 and still do, yet I have a good general knowledge. Although it probably didn't used to be as dumbed down as it is now!
     
  7. Some of the original facts quoted are quite difficult for them.
    Austria - they get confused with Australia...Hawaii is a good 2000 miles west of the rest of the USA so they probably don't make the connection...and the Africa thing is an ongoing issue that seems to be largely confused by the presence of South Africa. I teach Geography and from experience, even the brightest do get muddled about those three (and Alaska, Taiwan/Thailand confusion and why the Arctic isn't on a map but the Antarctic is...)
     
  8. Quite difficult!?
    Yes, it might be a fact they get Austria and Australia mixed up but they shouldn't! It's not that hard!
    The problem is that we don't educate them or ask them to think for themselves. We spend every godforsaken minute of every school day making them into exam passing (hopefully or we'll be turned into an academy) machines. Then outside the school day all society seems to be interested in anymore is celeb gossip, reality shows and people throwing themselves at rubber balls suspended above a pool for entertainment.
    I teach a top set year 9 class, the majority of whom are very bright and should get A or A* at GCSE in English. NONE of them has ever picked up a weekend supplement. About 3 of them read the 'newspaper' - The Sun as it turns out. They play computer games and text and BBM and message and facebook...there isn't much general knowledge acquisition involved in any of that.
    Because the majority of them come from households where there isn't much of an income, they don't travel either - even to London or Cornwall or Edinburgh.
    Society is not going to go back to how it was when I was growing up (in a household without much disposable income but with a mother who was INTERESTED in things and made me INTERESTED in things in spite of the fact that she left school at 14 with no formal qualifications) sadly...it's only going to get worse. So in school we need to relax on the exam passing and go back to educating but that's never going to happen because we're terrified of kids not getting a raft of Cs or making 3 levels of progress or whatever else bulls*it measure comes along for us to get beaten with.

    Rant over!
     
  9. Helena Handbasket

    Helena Handbasket New commenter

    I teach in Sheffield and my year 7s had never heard of the Pennines.
     
  10. gruoch

    gruoch Occasional commenter

    I teach a yr 9 girl who doesn't need to learn anything 'because I'm pretty' (She is).
    On A2 scripts I have been told how repressive to women society was in 1978. Gawd knows what they'd make of 1969. If I read 'in the patriarchal society of the time' - choose any date - once more I'll do someone a serious mischief.
    When I'm starting on Shakespeare I have huge fun asking classes when he lived.
    The trouble is that pupils never question anything.

     
  11. Hawaii is the 50th state of the United States. I was a hairdressers in the centre of London a month ago where one of the visiting stylists was going home to Germany for Christmas. After learning he lived in Munich, the 30-year old receptionist asked him is "now is Munich in Europe?" Oh help.
    P.S. some of us Canadians also speak English- and some even speak both after 10-15 years of French in school. ;-)
     

  12. My class would love a quiz but perhaps we should call it a 'general knowledge quiz' not a 'pub' quiz. Any questions they didn't know could be included in future quizzes until they knew the answers well. They could even come up with their own questions, which would encourage them to research a variety of information, e.g. this week - literature, next week - geography.
     
  13. Don't worry, one of my year 11 Geography students told me that when 18 she was going to live in New York so she could experience the sunny California climate. When I showed the class a map of the world, they all thought that the UK was somewhere off the coast of California - we should be so warm!
    The lack of general knowledge is similar in Australia. I think that much of the teaching world-wide has bexome very localised, and not enough teachers take their own travels and experiences back to the classroom in a way that inspires students. Mind you, we are competing with Neighbours etc....
     
  14. I know this is all Secondary, but I'm a Year Three primary school teacher and have a whale of a time teaching children 'general knowledge'. I taught in Libya for a year and a half before coming back to start my NQT year; my class know this, and after coming back to school after the half-term holidays I was thrilled to know that they had all been watching the news. Every single one of them can pinpoint Libya on a map. In all fairness though, I knew very little about Libya before I moved out there, but that doesn't mean it's lacking in general knowledge. Find something they're interested in and they would probably chew your ear off. It's the 21st Century after all and they may know much more about certain areas than any of us do...My class also know a lot about history, especially with regards to execution, mainly cropping up through Guy Fawkes and the conflicts between Catholicism and Protestantism. Every single day we talk in depth about anything and everything and the responses and questions I get from them is astounding. Suffice to say I love it...Implement your enthusiasms in to your teaching and their general knowledge may come on in leaps and bounds (obviously I know there is a huger focus on exams and the likes, but it's so worth finding the time to do it).
     
  15. A little different, but along the same lines.

    I was explaining to my class of Year 2 that we would be visiting our local church later in the week and the vicar would be showing us around and explaining thngs to us. HE comes in, about once a month, to take assembly. I asked the children if they could remember his name, all 29 of them replied, St Andrew. Strange but true!
     

  16. Same with me emmyak - except its Bahrain instead, so obviously that has been on the news recently too.
    I love countries and places and the suchlike and this accidentally rubs off on my classes. My Y1/2 class I was on my final placement with were studying desert so I decided to base it on Oman as I have been there and could show them photos that were mine instead of out of a text book, and bring in Middle Eastern memorabilia etc. The kids really impressed me (and luckily my tutor as well) by being so keen on learning about how life might be in a place like this. We were weaving blankets and making lanterns for our sand-paint camels in an observed lesson and I was so proud of how much information they actually took in, when my mentor asked a child why they were making camels she replied "Well in Oman its sandy rather than roady and so cars don't get around very easily so people use camels instead because they are very strong and can carry loads of stuff and have flat feet so don't sink into the sand". It might not be on the national curriculum but those kids sure know all there is to know about Oman and desert life!

     
  17. Hi Heather
    Is this something you would be willing to share as a resource on the TES?
    Kind regards
    Victoria Scott, Secondary Maths, Liverpool.
     
  18. God bless you jmitchellbarylko! You made me laugh ...and that's a gift! Wow! Some candians speak English...I so wish we English could say the same. There are many things kids do not know that i suppoe could be classed as General Knowledge:
    a) Mummy does NOT know best; she thinks Macdonald's is a food class and that you need 5 a day.
    b) Reading does not make you a geek; it makes you very slightly superior to the chair you are sitting on.
    c) America contains more than Disneyland - much of it more stimulating.
    d) Europe contains more than Disneyland Paris - most of it more stimulating.
    e) Osama bin Laden is not the name automatically consigned to any new kid whose skin is less than 100% Persil White.
    f) Reading is not 'gay'. It is helpful. It helps you read and understand legislation pertaining to Homophobia.
    g) Your teacher is not 'gay';he has simply heard of Shakespeare.
    h) Canada is full of people who can speak two languages fluently; England is full of people who struggle with one.
    i) 'Teacher' is a word applied to people with more patience than is good for them.
    I hope you will not be offended if I welcome you to our land on behalf of the three or four kids who don't think that 'Canada' is something daddy puts in his whisky before he swears.
    Keep smiling!

     
  19. noemie

    noemie Occasional commenter

    One straight As Y13 student was surprised that America wasn't part of Europe. The rest of the class stared in disbelief and suddenly feeling very smug that for once, they knew something she didn't!
     
  20. In my boarding school the pupils wouldn't go to bed until I gave them an 'interesting fact' usually gleaned from radio 4. A few years ago on my bithday I said, 'your interesting fact today is to work out when I was born. It was 2 years plus 1 day after one of the most momentous days of the 20th century, put off by a day due to terrible weather.' Quick as a flash the answer came back ... 'Noah's Ark'. Give them their due after a bit of googling they came back with the right answer.
     

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