A few months ago a contestant at the Miss Teen USA contest was mocked for an answer she gave in the Q&A section. Told that twenty per cent of Americans could not find the USA on a world map and asked why this was, she rambled incoherently:
Some TV executives felt sorry for her and invited her on to a breakfast show to give a better answer (after showing her in her bikini). The second time around she said that she doubted the accuracy of the survey but, if true, it showed the need for a greater emphasis on Geography in school. She was wrong. The real reason that so many Americans don't know the answer to the question is that they just don't care. There is no great penalty for being ignorant if you live in an idiot culture.
Before any British readers start pointing the finger though, I think they should read this next story. A Polish schoolboy who came to Britain two years ago, hoping to improve his education, has gone back to Poland, complaining that he was 'treading water' in the British school system.
I find this story interesting, because he doesn't just blame the system. His chief problem was the the apathy of the other students -
"The boys were childish, they didn't read papers and weren't interested in anything ... And the girls only talked about shopping and what they were going to do on Friday night... In Poland you have to know the names of all countries, even the rivers. But in England hardly anyone could place Kenya or Poland on the map. The teachers didn't test knowledge, only effort."
It's the idiot culture again. You can walk into a newsagent store here and find half a dozen magazines full of fluff about Jennifer Aniston and Angelina Jolie. How can people buy this garbage without embarrassment? Is it just an Anglo-Saxon thing or is it a feature of all prosperous countries - that general knowledge and current affairs are seen as irrelevant to people who have enough to live on?
To fix this, what's needed isn't more money thrown at education. It's the return of ridicule. We need to make fun of people who don't take an interest in the world around them. It would cost nothing.
I doubt any of this will interest Miss Teen South Carolina though. She's now living in a luxury appartment in Manhattan with a modelling contract that according to reports 'could earn her $30,000 per day'.