Igniting Curiosity to Learn
There are several influences today, when it comes to information dissemination and how we gather and retain it. Our student throws light on what kind of information do students retain and know and what they filter...

 
Living in an era where information is easily accessible, one would expect the current generations to be more aware or knowledgeable than the previous ones. However, most of the youth see it from another perspective: "If it's there on the internet, what's the point of reading and remembering it?"

For an example, a survey conducted by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute in 2008, on the topic of basic civil knowledge showed that the average score, of the 2508 Americans, who took the test, was 49%. When it was conducted again on another group in 2011, the score dropped to 44%.

There is a huge influence of media in today's day and age and student reflect what they mostly hear or read. To understand the trend amongst the students of IHS, a survey similar in nature to the ones previously mentioned was randomly conducted on a group of approximately 250 students aged 12-18. The survey was conducted online and on the spot. The questions asked, focused mainly on current affairs of the world, and extended to the realms of sport, politics, science and art. Questions were asked to determine whether students were open to learning about new subjects or were willing to discuss about new ideas and can see through misrepresentation of information. The results were intriguing and quite interesting to follow:
  • Only 14% of the people knew who the current president of India is, i.e. Mr. Pranab Mukherjee
  • 92% of the people knew the current president of USA, i.e. Barack Obama
  • Only 14% of the sample knew the first president of India, i.e. Dr. Rajendra Prasad
  • Only 12% of the people knew the capital of Australia, i.e. Canberra
  • 46% knew the capital of USA, which is Washington D.C.
  • 98% of the people knew who Lionel Messi and Sachin Tendulkar were
  • 3% knew the person who beat Viswanathan Anand in the latest World Chess Championship, i.e. Magnus Carlsen
  • 100% of the people knew teen pop sensation, Justin Bieber
  • 25% of the people knew Led Zeppelin, a 1970s rock band
  • 11% of the people knew who Srinivasan Ramanujan was
  • 11% of the people knew David Cameron is, i.e. the current Prime Minister of UK
  • 100% of the people knew Albert Einstein, however, less than 2% knew that Einsteinium was an element.
  • 48% of them couldn't name an Indian Nobel Prize winner, Amartya Sen, CV Raman, or Rabindranath Tagore
  • 81% couldn't tell accurately how old the Universe is, i.e.13.8 billion years
  • 99% of the people wrongfully believed that America is a democracy, wherein, it's a constitutional republic
What we understand from the above is largely the effect of media and means of communication today, whether through traditional means or convergent media formats. However, When people were asked if they were open to learning about new topics, many responded enthusiastically with "Yes!", but were doomed to fail later on when the subject seemed irrelevant (artists, international darts competitions, exotic Asian dances, history of fashion etc.)

Looking at the data, Joe Ashik, 11th grade student and member of the School's debating society, commented, "This is definitely not possible!" Soorya Srinivasan, another 11th grade student said, "I seriously question the level of awareness."

Indeed a lot of knowledge gained today is through different channels of communication. However, it becomes integral make sure that though there might be information, it should not be incorrect. Gaining wrong information and also being ignorant has its perils as seen through the survey conducted on the small sample of students at IHS. As far as knowledge is concerned, words of Murray Rothbard with regards to Economics, but the meaning holds true in any other subject as well. "It is no crime to be ignorant of economics, which is, after all, a specialised discipline and one that most people consider to be a 'dismal science.' But it is totally irresponsible to have a loud and vociferous opinion on economic subjects, while remaining in this state of ignorance."

Further to iterate the point made, Confucius said, "Real knowledge is to know the extent of one's ignorance."
 
- Written by Izaan Khan, Senior Reporter of Light House.