On the Efficacy of Public Education

In the Medieval era, and certainly in the 12th/13th Centuries, it was common knowledge among educated people (even schoolboys) that the world is round. This constitutes, I would guess, a minimum 10% of the population in the Western world at that time. Random peasants on the street... well, we can't be so certain. There's a 50% chance, in any case.

Today, thanks to the (far superior) modern system of education, anyone on the street should be able to tell you that Christopher Columbus discovered that the world is round. (If they were really good with the whole school thing, they'll probably remember the date, 1492.)

My, how far we've come!

[Washington Irving is the man largely responsible for the denigration of medieval geology.]


Rus said...

I learned the fact that Christopher Columbus discovered the world was round, by watching the Bugs Bunny episode, in which Bugs convinces Chris the world is round by throwing a baseball completely around the entire planet, and catching said ball with all the travel stickers attached from all the places it had been.

Irene said...

What! You mean the world is round, and doesn't travel around on the back of a turtle, which is slowly floating around space? Or that it ends abruptly with a huge cliff-drop-off just a few miles north of where my parents are from? (that one is a very common myth for folks from the sunny south such as Edmonton, who don't realize that there's life up north. . . ). Cool how people in the middle ages actually knew that the world was round though - I didn't know that.