Joking around with our teaching assistants I asked if any of them could place Scotland on a map of the world. The estimates were varied and interesting. Lucy reckoned I was from northern Russia while according to Lily I am from Iraq. None of them guessed correctly. Broadening the chance for success I asked them to point out Africa. After a level of deliberation you wouldn’t see on the final question of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, three out of the six hesitantly motioned to the appropriate continent. I was pretty shocked. Worse was to come. For the final question I asked them to show me where Beijing is. As in their national capital. None of them knew. Some guessed Tibet, others pretty much in Mongolia, but seriously none of them even got close. Now these are all smart girls with university degrees. I don’t want to sound patronizing but if I knew someone from my hometown who couldn’t point out London or Edinburgh I would, quite rightly, laugh at them. What’s going on here? Something has gone seriously awry if people with twenty years of education can’t situate their own capital. And I mean twenty years of properly demanding education, none of this getting pissed at uni and not doing your homework rubbish. I’m talking heads down, no breaks until bedtime, five hours of homework when you’re five years old education. The joking around quickly dissipated after the Beijing debacle. I had to pretend it was OK so they didn’t get too embarrassed but I could tell it was too late. I’d just uncovered the ignorant underbelly of their multi-lingual facade. The next day we talked about shoes.
PS – worst title pun yet.