What Kids Knew Then, May Not Know Now

I recently stumbled upon a study that I thought was interesting because it reflects the shifting of what’s common knowledge with kids. That could be a function of how much technology is consumed or it could be just a generation’s pop culture that fades and a new one replaces it. For whatever reason, here are some top common knowledge items that have become either more or less known as common knowledge with young people today.
Example one…what’s the capital of France? Back in 1980, when this study was first put out there, it was the six most correctly answered question, in 2012 it dropped to 23rd. The answer by the way, in case you don’t know, is Paris. 30% of the respondents thought Baghdad was the capital of Afghanistan.
Number two…who warned the American rebels during the Revoluntionary War with the phrase ”The British Are Coming.” The right answer, Paul Revere.
Number three…from the world of the arts. Who was the male lead in the classic film “Gone With The Wind?” The correct answer, Clark Gable fell from 68 in 1980 to 200 in 2012.
Number four…here’s something that went up in the area of terminology. Knowledge of the meaning of the word describing a severe headache we call a “migrane” went from 25 in 1980 to 6th in 2012. This is possibly due to the increased incidence of the malady among young people.
Lastly, the name of the villain captain in the story Peter Pan shot up from number 73 to 18. Such a spectacular climb was also seen by the name of Tarzan’ girlfriend Jane.
Notice a trend? Pop culture and entertainment has replaced History, and Social Studies as the drivers of what kids seek to know about our world and culture. It’s not necessarily their fault with how instant and portable technology is, not to mention the entertainment it offers. It is where we are, until as a whole, we see real usable knowledge as valued and important to know and a key to be something better.

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