It’s not until you parent a four-year-old that you discover how bad your general knowledge is.
As your child enters the ‘But why’ age, you’ll be asked to explain everything from why the peanut butter toast always falls face down; to why water is wet; and why dinosaurs don’t live in Southport anymore.
Personally speaking, I found the year between four and five grueling, mentally exhausting and confidence sapping.
Do I really know so little about the world around me, I wondered on more than one occasion.
Thank God for Google and Wikipedia.
What did my parents and others of their generation do without them?
So I took some comfort in reading the results of a survey by the Australian Academy of Science, which found that as a country we’re getting dumber.
Yes, it’s true. Since the last time the survey was undertaken in 2010, the Academy found more of us are clueless about the world in which we live.
For instance – Do you know how long it takes earth to travel around the sun? My 8-year-old was quick to answer correctly (one year) … unlike his mother.
I’m not alone. Just two-thirds of those people surveyed knew. The worst performing group was the over 65s.
The survey also found that only 39 per cent of people knew that 70 per cent of the Earth’s surface is water; many also had no idea as to whether dinosaurs and humans have ever lived on earth at the same time. The answer’s ‘no’ in case you were wondering.
I blame realistic Hollywood blockbusters for this (yes Jurassic Park, I’m talking to you).
The sad thing is that should you ask the same people who Kanye West had a baby with; the name of Beyoncé’s baby; or where Jennifer Hawkins was married, they’d probably be able to answer in a flash. (Kim Kardashian; Blue Ivy; Bali)
As a country we are being dumbed down … or we’re dumbing ourselves down.
Now that so many young people now receive their news updates via friends on Facebook is it any wonder? Pop culture rules and is celebrated, analysed and debated.
Who’s the Prime Minister of Australia? ‘Ummm.’ Premier of Queensland? ‘Pass.’ Who won Australia’s Next Top Model? ‘Oh that’s easy.’
My excuse is that in the years since leaving school (20 this year!) I have rid my brain all the information I didn’t use.
Out with the physics and algebra equations, out with the periodic table and yes (I’m ashamed to admit it) out with a lot of basic facts about the world in which we live.
I didn’t think I’d ever need this information again. How wrong was I?
When our eldest son hit four I reaslised I’d been too quick to shut the door on this essential knowledge as there’s only so many times you can fob them off with, ‘Ask your father’.
So I’ve been relearning the general knowledge I’d either forgotten or never really learned the first time.
Together with my sons I’ve studied the solar system, basic grammar rules and enough dinosaur fast facts to fill a book (or two).
And you know what? It’s easier the second time round.
Technology is often maligned for being a timewaster but it’s also making learning more interactive and fun.
The boys and I often fire up The Night Sky app and say hello to the stars, planets and satellites above us.
We learn our sight words via Reading Eggs, Word Mess and Wurdle and we practice our maths facts via a suite of colourful and engaging apps.
Sadly though I’m still waiting for an app to help me answer all those really tricky questions like, ‘Does God really exist; How are babies made; But why can’t I say she’s fat when she is and you say I have to tell the truth?
Better ask your father boys.
This story first appeared in the Gold Coast Bulletin. Read my Family Matters page every Wednesday in the paper.