If kids say the darnedest things, they’re bound to get even darned-er if you feed them funny potential answers to serious questions: A multiple-choice survey of 2,000 9- to 15-year-old children in the United Kingdom found that “while a majority of children have basic knowledge about the two world wars, a significant minority have no clue.”
One stat has us sincerely hoping that the children being surveyed were showing off their senses of humor: “77 percent of the children aged 9-15 recognised Hitler as leader of the Nazi party, but 13.5 percent thought he invented gravity in 1650 and seven percent thought he coached Germany’s football team.” Another seems oddly revealing about how the Holocaust is treated: “Auschwitz was correctly identified by 70 percent—but 15 percent thought it was a WWII-based theme park.” A third is simply baffling: “61 percent knew who Goebbels was but 21 percent thought he was a ‘well-known Jew who wrote a diary in the attic.’” Perhaps we’re biased, but it’s hard to imagine anyone not having a pretty clear idea who Anne Frank was, what with the constant media attention given to the girl and her diary.
Of course before proceeding to mock the sad state of education in the United Kingdom, consider the fact that more than 90 percent of respondents know who Winston Churchill is. We’re not sure the same can be said about school children on this side of the pond.
Hadara Graubart was formerly a writer and editor for Tablet Magazine.