Spanish Armada Please, and a Pitcher of Sangria

by Robert Pondiscio
October 28th, 2010

Surveys revealing how ill-informed U.S. schoolkids are on basic facts of history are the hardiest of perennials.  Well, take heart, America.  British kids are no better informed than ours.  The U.K.’s Daily Mail reports British kids fared miserably on a survey about their island nation’s maritime heritage.  Some kids think the Spanish Armada is a tapas-style dish, while others confuse Captain Cook with Captain Kirk. 

“The report found six in ten youngsters didn’t know the Battle of Waterloo was fought in Belgium, with one in six opting instead for the London’s railway station….And a worrying one in ten said Horatio Nelson was the captain of the French national football team in the Nineties  and the same number said Christopher Columbus discovered gravity.”

On the other hand, six in ten know Blackbeard was a pirate.  But ten percent think he’s the character played by Johnny Depp in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. 

Read more:

Spanish Armada is a national dish, Walter Raleigh invented the bicycle and 18th Century explorer Captain Cook was the helm of Starship Enterprise, according to research released today .

Frighteningly, a new survey also reveals that  many also think that the Battle of Waterloo was fought at the London rail terminal, Horatio Nelson captained the French football team in the Nineties… and  that thousands have never set foot in the sea.

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  1. From what I’ve been able to gather in the last few years, British education is in at least as bad a shape as American. They’ve dropped a lot of the history from the curriculum too. Very discouraging (esp. for an Anglophile like me who likes to imagine that British people are all more literate than we are).

    This is something I’ve wondered about actually, in connection to the Core Knowledge argument that a national curriculum gives better results than a patchwork one. The UK instituted their National Curriculum in 1988 I think? And it seems that their schools have gone steadily downhill along with ours. What is the Hirsch thought on the UK’s National Curriculum?

    Comment by dangermom — October 28, 2010 @ 11:03 am

  2. This is tangential, but I just wanted to take the opportunity to pimp my blog,

    My concern is about the lack of set curriculum in science education. If you are interested, please take a look.

    Comment by Knowledge Based Science — November 1, 2010 @ 9:55 am

  3. Speaking as a teacher from the UK who recently emigrated to BC ……

    Having a national curriculum doesn’t really help all that much if you’re still going to use social promotion.

    The National Curriculum is a good thing for sixth-form colleges (senior high schools) and universities (at least the ones who still maintain a rigorous applications process) as it ensures that the remedial classes that North American colleges are known for are kept to a minimum.

    For schools and students who drop-out at 16 (only it’s not called ‘dropping-out’ because continuing until 18 isn’t the default) the National Curriculum hasn’t changed things that much.

    Comment by Richard I — November 2, 2010 @ 6:27 pm

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