What are schools teaching our children?

Watching TV quiz show ‘The Chase’, my wife & I were in total disbelief at the level of knowledge displayed by two contestants, both of whom looked to be in their early 20’s.

Question 1 - Which continent is Belgium on?
The contestant clearly hadn’t a clue what a continent was or had never heard of Belgium. Most probably both. Contestant remained totally silent & clearly didn’t understand the answer.

Question 2 - The answer to a very easy question was ‘Prince Phillip’. Again, total silence. When told the answer the contestant replied that they knew very little about princes but the name ‘Harry’ seemed to ring a bell.

We had to watch the show again on catch-up to make sure we hadn’t misheard the questions.

Unsurprisingly, both got the answers to question on ‘popular culture’ correct.

I don’t expect everyone to be a genius with general knowledge but, how can you get to your early 20’s in this country never having heard of Belgium & Prince Phillip? How can you spend years in education & come out knowing nothing?

They probably can’t believe that you don’t know what kind of lipfillers are popular.

I was listening in to a conversation between a couple a few years ago and the guy said ‘my friend from Poland’ to which she replied ‘Is Poland a country?’ She - despite being in her twenties - did not have much original.

It was hilarious.


Isn’t it great to look down on other people?

No it’s not.

Sadly, it’s often not difficult.


I’m don’t think anything to do with the Royal Family was mentioned at either my primary or secondary schools in the 1960s and just into 70s. As for Belgium, I recall Geography (the ‘0’ leven in which I passed) talking about main economic basis and capital cities of various countries, which was intensely boring, and things like glaciation and maps which was very interesting. And outside school I took no interest in politics or current affairs - only science and music. Whether when I left school I could have correctly answered the question abut where Belgian was in the world I cannot say - I guess I might have known, but am by no means certain.

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OK, I’ll bite.
At the moment, how not to catch or transmit Covid. A couple of years ago it was financial literacy / how to stay healthy / mental first aid / Citizenship / etc etc - delete as politically expedient.

Of course this is alongside Maths, English, Science, a modern language, History, Geography, PE, Art, Music, Drama, Technology, Computing, Personal, Social and Health Education, Religious Education.

The real answer is of course that these contestants either forgot or were so nervous on TV that they went blank.

I should declare an interest. I was Headteacher of various state, comprehensive, secondary schools 2002-2018 and can honestly say most of the young people I worked with were sharp, inquisitive, determined and hardworking. I loved every minute of it. We can all think of individuals that weren’t as I describe but the vast majority were. As we used to say, ‘Catch Them Being Good’ - motivation and high expectations are everything.

Rant over!


The response I find irritating…? How would I know that, it was before I was born!

I know what you mean though, Richard Osmond’s House of Games last night: Q: (Set by a child) “What’s the hottest planet in The Solar System?” A: “Um…The Sun?”
(The next four attempted answers were Mars, Saturn, Mercury and Jupiter, which are at least planets even if they display little logic in selection for the most part, save Mercury I guess).

“Yes, but apart from all that, what has state education ever done for us…!?”


TV quiz shows don’t normally want bright knowledgeable contestants, they want those who can generate that :point_up_2::point_up_2::point_up_2: sort of reaction, presumably to allow us to sit at home smugly pointing and laughing.

My brother is a bright guy and knows a lot. In his early 20s he tried and gave up trying to get on things like 15 To 1, when he was quietly told by a researcher that he was too clever to be on.

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But (and I hate to point this out) the Sun is classified as a star not a planet - a G2V.

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That was my first thought.
(Smug mode off again)

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Like being at work.

Don’t answer the question asked but the question the questioner was trying to ask :slight_smile:

As exemplified by the much-loved Radar in MASH when working for Henry Blake.

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Exactly!!! Perhaps you misunderstand the post, the answer given by the celebrity contestant, was ‘The Sun’.

At least I now know that it isn’t Mercury, as I would have answered, but is Venus due to a greenhouse effect. (Thanks wiki)

Yep, Mercury has no atmosphere so the surface temperature swings about 600 degrees. However, I can understand why that would be given as an answer if you didn’t know :slightly_smiling_face: But The Sun?!?

No it’s not.

I try not to do it but, like most (everyone?) I have probably been guilty at times & in thought only.

My point in originally posting was genuine surprise that anyone could get so far in life without being the aware of things that most people don’t specifically learn. They are just picked up as you go along.

What I find worrying, due to my age it probably won’t affect me much, is that within a relatively short time people will be in positions where they can make decisions that could affect the lives of many without having a basic ‘life view’ to consider possible consequences before actually taking those decisions.

Would you like to be standing before a judge & jury made up of people who have a low awareness of the environment they live in? It doesn’t mean their intellect is low. It simple means that, for whatever reason, they won’t ‘put their brains in gear’.


I wonder how much of that is because of information overload. There is just too much to know and learn, and therefore we choose only that which is relevant right now. As a kid I wanted to know how a car engine, or gearbox worked. Similarly how my radio or kettle or electric motor worked. I now have no idea how the electronic controls which keep my car running actually work. I can only just about grasp what their function is, but the internal workings? No chance.

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A (slightly eccentric) parent at a (high-fee paying) school of my acquaintance once contacted a member of senior management in high dudgeon that her daughter had come home for the holidays and seemed completely ignorant of which glass one should use for champagne. What on Earth, she demanded, did the school think it was teaching its young ladies?



I look down on everyone, including you lot – thick peasants, all of ya.


I am not saying it is vital to know where Belgium is or who Prince Phillip is/was.

What I am attempting to say is certain basic skills/knowledge are pretty important for anyone to lead a decent life for as long as possible.

A ‘for instance’ for me would be being forced to learn the times tables. This seemed pointless to me at the time but you were forced to learn them so I did. Years later I realised that there were no life situations I have encountered where I have had to recite these complete tables. However, what they gave me was a basic grounding in maths that has stood me in good stead in both my private & business life. This helped to make my life considerably easier than it would have otherwise been.

Hope this makes some form of sense.