Robyn Vinter: Why isn’t “Barraco Barner” on the national curriculum?


You have to feel for 20 year-old Gemma Worrall, the British woman who shot to cyber-fame last week after tweeting this:

Barraco Barner tweet

Needless to say, Worrall, a beautician from Blackpool, received a tirade of nasty online abuse for the unfortunate spelling and for referring to Barack Obama as “our” president.

However, this morning, in an interview with the Daily Mail, it was revealed Worrall has a phenomenal 17 GCSEs (most people get 10 or 11).

Brits, like much of the rest of the world, have a tendency to blame an individual for their lack of knowledge, rather than looking at where these flaws came from.

But whether it’s Keynesian economics or the words to the theme tune of the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, everyone has gaps in their knowledge which cause them to look an idiot at some point (the latter, if you’re wondering, comes in useful on a student night when everyone starts chanting and the blank faces of people who weren’t allowed to watch TV as children suddenly stand out a mile off).

In Worrall’s case she was labelled an “oxygen thief” by people who thought she should have known who runs the country.

But if political knowledge is so important perhaps it’s something that should be taught in schools?

I’ve been hearing a mixture of outrage and seething resentment from my teacher friends over Michael Gove’s school reforms in recent weeks. Last month, the out of touch education secretary said he thought state schools should teach Latin in order to break down the “Berlin Wall” between state and private schools.

Incidentally, having not been taught about the Berlin Wall (my education ended at the Second World War – it’s all blank after that), I left school assuming it was built because two sides of Berlin “didn’t get on”.

Just like Worrall, I left state school with astronomic holes in my knowledge about life and the world which, over the years since I left, I’m slowly filling myself.

I can tell you what happened to each of Henry VIII’s wives (“divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived”) since I studied that monarch three times during my school years.

However, perhaps it would be more beneficial if schoolchildren are taught about what is actually happening in Britain and the world.

Politics, current affairs, economics and business are far more valuable for a student and this country than so much of the national curriculum.

I finished my GCSEs nearly 10 years ago, so I concede things will have changed slightly. But I bet you anything they’re still teaching kids about the battle of whatever that happened a thousand years ago, and neglecting to tell them who the Prime Minister is.


Robyn Vinter: Play it cool with the Scots, Cameron, your desperation is embarrassing