How general is knowledge?
Yesterday’s Higher Education Supplement contained the following snippet.
MARK who? Snitch hears a tute group at a research-intensive university had trouble getting across some fundamental political facts. The story goes that only five of the 19 students – all Australian – knew who Mark Latham was. We know the former Labor leader is yesterday’s pollie, but can this really be true?
Disturbing, but hardly unusual: anyone working at the coal-face of higher education will tell of a dramatic drop in levels of general knowledge and basic academic skills. It’s easy to point fingers (at the high schools, at the unis, and especially at the government) but that doesn’t do anything to address the problem, let alone explain it.
It is a statistic that is parallel to the almost complete absence of the 18 – 35 demographic from the readership of newspapers, or watchers of quality television. The new media proponents trumpet that today’s youth get their information from the internet, alternative media outlets, blogs, etc. Actually, you have to wonder whether they are getting information from anywhere.