We Don't Need No Education: Children Woefully Ignorant Of Characters In Literature

Children Woefully Ignorant Of Characters In Literature

Via the Daily Mail:

Whenever the public is polled in general knowledge questions, we see the depressing statistics and collectively shake our heads, secretly hoping the piece is a misconstrued Onion article. (My favorite stat: 37% of Americans unable to locate America on map of America.) As it turns out, our general ignorance is being transferred to our kids.

In a recent study conducted by Worcester University, only half of all kids polled had heard of Harry Potter, and even less—a quarter of 7 to 14-year-olds—had discovered him through reading, suggesting traditional children’s characters are quickly forgotten in an age of TV and video game entertainment. Keep in mind that this poll was conducted in England, where Harry Potter seems to be a national figure on par with the Queen.

The study is replete with depressing statistics, demonstrating kids and their hilarious multiple-choice failures, such as a fifth of children questioned thought Aslan—the lion hero of The Chronicles Of Narinia series—was a giraffe, and the same proportion said he was a bear. A quarter would have been surprised to find themselves in Narnia after walking through the wardrobe, with 17% saying the dresser led to the Secret Garden and 8% were convinced it ended up in Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory.

To be fair, the survey only polled 500 children, but it does paint a grim picture for the future of literature.

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JEFFREY GRANT BARR's picture
JEFFREY GRANT BARR from Central OR is reading Nothing but fucking Shakespeare, for the rest of my life June 20, 2012 - 1:41pm

In the future, people will communicate solely by means of animated gif bubbles, suspended above their heads. All books will be written and read aloud on youtube, by the spawn of celebrities.

.'s picture
. June 20, 2012 - 3:56pm

Isn't this how the dark ages started?

Boone Spaulding's picture
Boone Spaulding from Coldwater, Michigan, U.S.A. is reading Solarcide Presents: Nova Parade June 20, 2012 - 3:58pm

I used to feel like a grumpy old man, griping about how stupid the kids are nowadays. I'm over that now - the kids are f*cking stupid.

Joshua Chaplinsky's picture
Joshua Chaplinsky from New York is reading Stories of YOUR Life June 20, 2012 - 7:00pm

I don't know if I'd specifically blame TV and videogames. I think it might have more to do with supersaturating the brain with information; not dwelling on individual pieces of media long enough before moving on and greedily gobbling up something else. We consume too much information too fast. A lotta strands in the old Duder's head, man.

SammyB's picture
SammyB from Las Vegas is reading currently too many to list June 20, 2012 - 11:16pm

I grew up on a steady diet of TV and videogames, but I had a grandmother who took me to the library as a special treat and let me get five books (the limit) each time. My mother would read with me before bed and I got to where I wanted to read on my own. Dad advocated reading as well and bought me any books I wanted. 

I majored in English education to teach middle school/high school and we were taught that it will be an uphill battle to foster a love of reading in children, who do not have a literacy sponsor at home. If parents do not promote reading, kids will not read and they will not enjoy reading when they have to. Couple that will the large amount of students who have non-English speaking parents and the job is increasingly harder.

JEFFREY GRANT BARR's picture
JEFFREY GRANT BARR from Central OR is reading Nothing but fucking Shakespeare, for the rest of my life June 20, 2012 - 11:36pm

@Samantha Bledsoe 'Couple that will the large amount of students who have non-English speaking parents and the job is increasingly harder.' Hey, there are books in languages other than English. Thought you'd like to know.

Jack Campbell Jr.'s picture
Jack Campbell Jr. from Lawrence, KS is reading American Rust by Phillipp Meyer June 21, 2012 - 6:39am

I'm not that worried about 7 to 14 year olds not knowing Harry Potter. The first book came out in 1997. None of the 7 to 14 year old kids were even alive. Part of the cool thing about the series is that it's fans grew up along with Harry. The tone got more mature as they aged.

The last book came out in 2007. The 14 year olds weren't probably capable of reading the book yet and the 7 year olds weren't reading, at all.

The fad has moved on, replaced by something else.

SammyB's picture
SammyB from Las Vegas is reading currently too many to list June 26, 2012 - 5:40pm

@Jeffrey Grant Barr, I know this. I use translated editions in my classroom, but most of my ELL/ESL students do not have books in their homes due to poverty and parental illiteracy. My response was not meant to be offensive. It is just a fact.

I live and work in the worst school district in the US. A district that does not value education at all. Our district is laying off 1,500 teachers for the coming school year and we were already dealing with a teacher shortage. Our kids are only going to further suffer for this decision.