What 100% in a BuzzFeed quiz says about education
It’s not even about what you know.
Last week, I scored 100% in a BuzzFeed quiz. I’ll be honest, I was immensely proud. The quiz asked for the capital cities of nine countries which began with P, Poland (Warsaw), Paraguay (Asunción) etcetera. I got them all right.
At the end of the quiz, I was prompted to share my result on Facebook, and I took this opportunity enthusiastically. As I hit ‘share’ and the pop up-box slipped away, I began thinking. Where did I learn the capital cities of 9 countries beginning with P? And why did everyone need to know this information?
The first question started me thinking about school. I didn’t learn any of the answers to this quiz in the 14 years I spent in the British education system. I learned them sat at the breakfast table, where my Mum had stuck a list on the wall of all the countries in the world, and their capital cities. She must have thought this was going to come in handy some day, I bet she didn’t think it would be in this situation.
The education I received at school was actually pretty rudimentary when I think about it. Other than subjects like Maths and Science, the rest of it seemed to be taught to engender some kind of national identity, with the government ensuring that all British pupils knew roughly the same things about Queen and Country, at similar points in their lives. Other than some teachers who pushed the boat out, I learned more watching the news every night, and reading the 2 free newspapers that were brought home, than I ever really learned at school.
The value of education is often yoked to its usefulness later on in life. My classroom and exam work has endowed me with knowledge that began collecting dust, almost as soon as the school year was done. Much of it I haven’t re-visited since, not even in conversation.
I recently conducted a poll about this topic on Facebook, and the results were perhaps not surprising:
Now that I’m older and looking for work, I really wish my classroom time was more useful. Unfortunately, employers don’t care how many wives Henry VIII beheaded (two) or how hard a man called Lenny petted a rabbit (John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men). I appreciate being a learned individual, but it would be nice, if just some of that classroom knowledge could be part exchanged for a practical leg up in adulthood. I’ll spend most of my life a grown up after all.
Society recognises our school qualifications as a marker of basic intelligence. As long as you can produce this evidence, you are waved on to the next stage of your life with ease.
What most of us now realise, is that our 16–18 year old exams are like a $6 coupon for a $100 meal- and almost everyone has that coupon.
My BuzzFeed quiz result reminded me that education can come from anywhere, and the most valuable knowledge you receive may not be obtained in the classroom. As for trumpeting my achievements, I don’t even put my pretty good A-Level results on job applications anymore, that’s how irrelevant they are. Come to think of it, it would be just as good to put my BuzzFeed result on there instead. I polled that idea on Facebook as well- it got 5 likes.