According to this article, a third of British people don’t know that Shakespeare wrote plays:
and also from the article:
Now, I’ve always heard that Americans were notoriously bad at world geography and such, but to not know who William Shakespeare is? If it’s that bad in England, I wonder how bad it’d be over in the States!
Half the population is below average. It’s shocking, I tell you.
The truth is, if you don’t get told things, then you don’t know. A lot of the modern generation gets its direct knowledge from trashy paparazzi magazines, that just perpetuate ignorant nonsense, which circulates around their immediate circle of friends. Beyond that they see no need to self-educate.
What is a statistic like this supposed to prove? People will learn what they want or need to learn, and as unfortunate as this might sound, not knowing historical trivia consistently fails to cause problems in many modern lives.
Others believed poet Sylvia Plath was lead singer of the Black Eyed Peas. Less than a third knew Winnie the Pooh author A A Milne was a writer.
I bet it looks something like this.
Sylvia Plath was:
[ul][li]The model for the Statue of Liberty[/li][li]Lead singer of the Black Eyed Peas[/li][li]That old French singer with the wobbly voice[/li][li]An American poet who married the British poet laureate[/li][li]That suffragette who threw herself under a racehorse[/ul][/li]
A A Milne was:
[ul][li] The first man on the moon[/li][li] That weird looking guy in the Maltese Falcon[/li][li] The writer of Winnie the Pooh[/li][li] The inventor of the crouton[/li][*] The painter of The Hay Wain[/ul]
In which case it’s not clear whether it’s a test of knowledge about Shakespeare, or of literacy and knowledge of the word ‘playwright’. Plus the fact that most people encounter him not through watching plays but by reading books in school, which could easily muddle the issue further.
No, that would be a bad multiple-choice question, because Shakespeare was all three. Only one answer must be correct, so something like:
William Shakespeare was:
[ul][li]An author of plays and poems[/li][li]A prime minister of Britain[/li][li]A king of England[/li][li]A jockey who won the 1930 Derby[/ul][/li]
would be a better question.
It laid the groundwork for the history of Britain in Ireland, which indirectly, down a long circuitous path, led to London being bombed by the IRA for 30 years in the 20th century. It would behove British people to know a little bit about it. Also, it was in UK when it happened, and involved TWO British kings.
Actually, it’s far less important that you know at this moment who Shakespeare or Churchill or Plath were, or what the Battle of the Boyne was about, than that you’re confident in your ability to do a fast Google and bring yourself up to speed while using critical thinking to spot and filter bullshit.
Being critically inquisitive is far more valuable than memorizing trivia, I find.