Our survey says……


So this week the UK government announced new and ‘radical’ changes to the exam system in order to try and make the education system turn out people who are capable of competing in tomorrows world. I haven’t read the proposals in detail ( or even at all actually) but two of the proposals caught my eye straight away. The present system grades course passes from A* to G where A* is the highest mark possible, but under the new proposals this system will be replaced with a numbering system from 1-8 where 8 is the top mark. So there we have it, simply changing from letters to numbers will eradicate child stupidity completely but just incase it doesn’t the other proposal is to do away with course work completely and rely on a lengthy exam at the end of a two year course. I’m in two minds about this. On the one hand I like the idea of a rigorous assessment to establish who is more knowledgable about a subject and also to an extent who can handle the pressure of an exam the better. For example, I’d prefer to be operated on by a surgeon who can stay calm and measured while making life and death decisions while under pressure and I’d prefer to be flown by an airline pilot who can make split second decisions as opposed to having simply done well during a course. But then again some people are just rubbish at exams and need to be able to demonstrate a depth of knowledge by having studied a subject thoroughly even if it means that we will never see exam answers of the quality of some of these.

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Wouldn’t it be good if someone could design a course in general knowledge. I realise that a knowledge of a broad amount of things is the responsibility of parents but just as an academic education shouldn’t just end at the school gate it wouldn’t hurt for children to be encouraged to learn about what’s going on in the world other than just in the curriculum. For example, in the last week a survey was published showing that nearly a fifth of primary school children thought that fish fingers came from chicken and just over a third thought that cheese comes from plants. Of course you could argue that that if you take a small sample of people to ask then you will get these kind of freak results, but the sample quizzed was 27,000 meaning that far from bringing up a next generation capable of leading us confidently into the middle part of this century, we are dragging up a group of people who would struggle to get around their local Londis or green grocer. It doesn’t even get any better when dealing with secondary school age children as In the same survey one in ten thought that tomatoes grew underground and that pasta comes from animals. This ignorance is blamed on the fact that most of the respondents have never been to a farm, but surely this is just an attempt to excuse the stupidity as although I’ve never been to Australia I know where kangaroos come from and I know that they used to be good at cricket.

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But it doesn’t get any better as we get older. You only have to watch quiz shows to realise that far from getting brighter as we get older, some people register a full 10/10 on the thickometer. My favourite ever quiz show for stupid answers has to be Family Fortunes. For anyone who is unfamiliar with Family Fortunes, (in the U.S it’s called Family Feuds) here is how the game show works.All the questions start “We asked 100 people…”, now the idea of the game is for the contestants to try and guess one of the top 5 answers that 100 people surveyed said to that particular question. Obviously the top answer is worth the most points and the score is based on how many people, from that 100 surveyed, said that answer. For example “We asked 100 people to name any Italian city.” the top 5 answers are,

Rome 57 points (57 people surveyed said this answer)
Milan 22 points
Naples 11 points
Florence 7 points
Venice 3 points

All the questions in the show are very simple like this and you would expect most people to always get at least one of the top 5 answers. But, in the jackpot round one contestant only has 30 seconds to answer 5 such questions, that’s only 6 seconds per question! This is how we get some funny answers because they literally have to say the first thing that comes into their head.

Here are my favourite funny answers from the show….

“We asked 100 people to name…”

An animal that eats pollen: “The honey fly..”

An animal you cannot fit into a Mini car: “Mouse..”

A food that has one or more holes in it: “Spaghetti..”

Something made of wool: “Cotton wool..”

An animal with three letters: “Lion..”

A bad place to fall asleep: “Concrete..”

A French ferry port: “Dover..”

Something you mount: “A mountain..”

Something you lose when you get older: “Your purse..”

A sport which involves throwing something: “Tennis..”

A type of bean: “Lesbian..”

Something you would play with in the bath: “A bazooka..”

Someone you wouldn’t swear in front of: “Yourself..”

A country where Arabic is spoken: “Nigeria..”

Someone or something whose existence has never been proven: “Hitler..”

Something that makes you close your eyes: “Dark..”

Something that comes in pairs: “Rabbits..”

A way of toasting someone: “Over a fire..”

A Boy’s name beginning with the letter J: “Gerald..”

An instrument you can play while walking in the street: “A cello..”

A type of oil: “Sewing-machine oil..”

A word beginning with Z: “Xylophone..”

A slang word for a girl: “Slag..”

An animal with horns: “A bee…”

A medieval weapon: “Hand-grenade..”

Something made of wool: “A sheep..”

Something a bridegroom might wear: “A dress..”

Someone you wouldn’t expect to see in a strip club: “Animals..”

An animal with a long tail: “A rabbit..”

Something a train-spotter would have in his pocket: “A magnifying glass..”

Something you put out for the birds: “Worms..”

A way to prevent snoring: “Put a pillow over his face..”

A word used to describe a very hot day: “A very hot day..”

A song from ‘The Sound Of Music’: “Dancing Queen..”

Someone who works early hours: “A burglar..”

Something made to be wheeled around: “A hammer..”

A reason for kneeling: “To be beheaded..”

A nickname for a slim person: “Slimmy..”

A measurement of liquid: “Paint..”

Something that’s nice to wear next to your skin: “Pants..”

A famous Dick: “Carrot..”

A wild animal that’s native to Britain: “A bear..”

Something that Father Christmas does when he comes to your house: “Feeds your pets..”

Something that comes in 7’s: “Fingers..”

A vocalist known by only one name: “Michael Jackson..”

A yellow fruit: “Orange..”

A popular TV soap: “Dove..”

Other than ‘carrier’, a type of bag: “Horse..”

Something you might find in a garage: “a grand piano..”

Something a Frenchman would say: “On Garde..”

And finally, there’s “Who wants to be a millionaire”, a show that re popularised prime time quiz shows in the 1990’s by offering a huge prize, but did at least offer some pretty tricky questions particularly when the prize money was getting high. For me however, there was always the chance that someone educated in thickville would accidentally guess the fastest finger first section and end up in the hot seat where they would fail the starter question. So I suppose the lesson here is that no matter how much we tinker with the education system and whether we grade kids in numbers or letters, it appears that as a species we are in reverse gear as far as evolution is concerned we should probably stop buggering about with it, leave the kids alone and start to focus on knowing how to learn some general knowledge as well as how to read, write and add up.

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