Recently I read well know British writer A.N. Wilson’s 600 page tome “After the Victorians” basically a world history of the extraordinarily eventful first half of the 20th century. Of New Zealand, Ed Hilary got a single mention, albeit as part of the British Everest team.
What surprised me was the amount of fawning adulation Ernest Rutherford received. Wilson according him a substantial account and many other praising references elsewhere in the book, including photographs. No other Kiwi was mentioned which is hardly surprising.
Despite that reflecting Wilson’s views I’d offer good odds that at least 60% of say our 15 year olds today have never heard of Rutherford. In contrast, at state schools back in the 1950s, even the dullest kid could have explained his achievement.
Frankly I’m staggered at the general ignorance of young people today. Why should that be?
For a start, when I was young literally everyone read the newspaper. Nowadays few under 30 would so much have held one, let alone any other news publications.
The most telling evidence of today’s young disinterest in the wider world is in their failure to vote. This is a western world phenomenon. It certainly wasn’t the case in my young days, but we didn’t have today’s distractions. Smart phones and social networking now reign supreme. Curiosity about the world and events of moment seems non-existent. Does it matter?
Probably not but it certainly leaves the door wide open for young folk who are curious and keen to excel, given lack of competition.