We keep getting these reports. 1 in 10 secondary pupils think tomatoes grow underground. A third of primary kids think cheese is made from plants. This ignorance should surprise no one, or just the ignorant, since many children also believe that their father is God, that policemen never tell lies, and that politicians, unlike prostitutes, don’t take money for favours. Some children don’t know where babies come from, Mummy, let alone what prostitutes add to the equation. Nor can they do maths. They are clueless about how to use money itself. No doubt there are children out there who don’t even know what money is.
Children need to be told things. Though please spare them, and us, the science of statistics. The new study reveals that 25% of little learners think fish fingers come from chicken meat, or pig. I confess this does surprise me. I never imagined having to tell a fish the truth, let alone a child.
But why pick on children? You old bullies. Of course, most journalists are over 18. Nonetheless, adults often know as little as, or less than, children. We should ask some strapping grown-ups the same questions. I suppose it’s much easier to get hold, so to speak, of large numbers of children. They can’t escape the classroom, where peculiar questions are the norm, and where strapping, I should point out, remains illegal.
By the time we’re adults, we shouldn’t still believe that adults know everything. I myself am an adult. I personally know a large number. I admit that you can sometimes find knowledgeable ones, mature individuals with excellent taste. In China, for example, customers at a rat restaurant complained when they were served lamb.
In the UK, consumers are not always so discerning. Until the recent meat-switching scandal, the retired couple next door used to eat entry-level, supermarket beef lasagna. (Yes, you old bullies, lasagne is the plural form.) At least, those two lovebirds thought it was beef. When the wife went into hospital for an operation, the old chap asked if they could test her for horsemeat while she was there. He was probably joking. His mistake was to ask the question before the old girl was fully sedated.
Don’t mind the neighbours. You can come across mistakes anywhere. There is a blue baby on your Facebook Profile page, and you know that babies are not normally blue, not properly-breathing, human ones, anyway. It’s ridiculous. A blue baby and a white nappy. But it doesn’t make the headlines. The designer’s an adult, isn’t he? Either a Krishna devotee who thinks that nappies only come in one colour, or a bluestocking who knows that, while most people don’t care what colour nappies are as long as they are clean, they might object to an earth baby of a regulation colour if it doesn’t match their own. Some mistakes are a good idea. Some make it into schoolbooks. Who writes the schoolbooks? Adults.