Why are we stuffing our kids with useless knowledge?


I’m on the train, returning from a Padres game, and across from me sit a mom and her ten-year-old son. He’s wearing some snazzy face-paint, answering questions his mother is asking from the game’s program.

“Carlos Quentin.”

“Right Fielder, number eighteen … hits around two-seventy.”


After three or four of these, I had to look up from my Kindle and interrupt. The child and his mother were obviously both impressed by his knowledge. I was not.

“OK, son, I have one for you.”


“What’s your average?”


“You play baseball, right?”

“Uh huh.”

“So, what’s your average?”

“I don’t know. Somewhere around three hundred, I think.”

“That’s the only average you should be concerned with–your own–unless you’re coaching the Padres.”

Naturally, mom gave me the stink-eye, which reminded me to mind my own business.

I got to thinking about all the silly things that occupy my dwindling gray matter. Sure, general knowledge goes a long way toward keeping me from sounding like a total idiot when games come out at the party, but did I really need to memorize the lyrics to “Feliz Navidad” and how to solve a Rubik’s Cube? I would have been better-served learning skills instead of memorizing information. Who cares what the capital of Denmark is? Who cares what level of Asteroid I can attain? I should have learned how to give CPR, change my oil, and bring a woman to orgasm in fifteen minutes or less.

Memorization isn’t learning. If you’re skilled at memorizing, good for you. Go on Jeopardy, or sit in a pub boring the shit out of your buddies by spewing movie lines. How many handsome fellows do you see on Jeopardy, anyway? Is Bill Gates handsome? How many national spelling bees are won by future models?

You see, we don’t need to cram information like phone numbers, addresses, and recipes into our skulls. Any information we need to know is quickly accessible from our handy smartphones. How old is Jane Fonda? IM-fucking-Db. How long will it take to drive to Santa Barbara? Google-freaking-Maps. What year was Kajagoogoo popular? (Um, never.) Wikipedia that shit. (Fine, 1982.)

Skills should be acquired, young man!

I don’t mean video game skill, either. At what point did violence become good and sex become bad? We need someone to hit our moral reset button. Sex is good and, by the way, essential to the continuation of our species. Violence, however; quite the opposite. Our children should be taught how to make themselves presentable and socialize effectively. You want to memorize something? Memorize the name of the person you just met, with whom you’re having stimulating conversation. Use that person’s name in your sentences, because every person loves to hear his or her name.

Last night, I ran into a woman I met recently. I remembered her name because I’ve acquired the skill of name association. It impressed the oxytocin out of her. It was obvious she forgot mine, so I reintroduced myself. I even gave her a free lesson on word association.

“I’m Phil from Philly.”

“Ah, and you’re wearing a Phillies cap too.”

“I am.”

Not thirty minutes later, this genius–who probably knows the name, age, and occupation of every cast-member of Bachelor Pad–forgot my name. I pointed to my head as a clue.


“Pat?! Really?”

“Hat rhymes with Pat.”

“Check, please.”

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About the author

Author of humorous essays about relationships and lifestyles.