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Dorling Kindersley survey results

Research released today by Dorling Kindersley’s Eyewitness Guides (19 July 2007) reveals that in some subjects children in the UK know more than their parents and in many others they are neck and neck.


Who’s the smartest in your family? 

More than 1,500 parents and children (aged eight-12 years) from across the UK were separately tested on the same set of ten general knowledge questions (based on national curriculum subjects taught to eight to 11-year-olds). The questions covered a variety of subjects including history, geography and science. Its results reveal that in certain subjects children outsmart their parents and in others they’ve got exactly the same level of general knowledge.


Who’s top of the class when it comes to Who’s Who? 

Children and parents were shown eight famous faces from the past & present and asked to correctly identify them. The research reveals that children and their parents are more likely to recognise Simon Cowell than Prime Minister Gordon Brown (94% of kids & 98% of parents identified Cowell vs 79% of kids & 95% of parents for Gordon Brown). And when it comes to queens it appears that children and parents are more likely to identify rock royalty than the real royals of the past and present: pop queen Kylie is more recognised by children than the real Queen and her predecessor Queen Victoria (85% correctly identified Kylie vs 82% The Queen and 79% Queen Victoria). The least recognisable face was Florence Nightingale for parents and kids, demonstrating that both groups need to brush up more on their history and less on their popular knowledge.


Though parents scored just higher than their children in the test overall some of the science questions saw the children neck and neck with mum and dad or even overtaking the older generation. The average scoring parent and the average scoring children were surprisingly close: the average parent scored eight out of ten while the average child was hot on their heels with seven out of ten.


Kids are more clued up about the planets and the Earth

Children seem to know more about the solar system – even edging ahead of the parents when asked ‘How long is a year on Mars?’ (30% of parents got this right compared to 35% of kids). Scores were also close when they were asked how many planets there are – 28% of kids got the question right compared to 27% of the adults.

Parents’ history of royalty on same par as their children

Parents’ knowledge of royal history matches that of an average 12-year-old as when asked which of Henry’s VIII’s wives produced a son – 42% got it right in both cases, correctly naming Jane Seymour.


Kids non-plussed by Shakespeare

50% of the kids got the question about how many soldiers were in a Roman Legion right compared to 55% of their parents but the mums and dads beat the kids hands down when asked where Shakespeare was born. Nine out of ten adults got the answer right while only 50% of their kids knew the Bard was born in Stratford Upon Avon (28% thought he was born in Stratford in London and 10 per cent thought he was born in Manchester!).


Gender division diminishes

And it seems the gender gap in knowledge is pretty narrow - the scores across the questions for boys and girls were close, both scoring high or struggling on the same kinds of questions.


Parents’ research

Given DK’s Eyewitness Guides are often used by children for school projects, the research also quizzed mums and dads to explore their attitudes to homework, how they deal with those tricky questions children often pose, and which subjects in particular get them hot under the collar.


The research reveals that David Beckham is not alone in admitting to being confused by his son Brooklyn’s homework – six out of ten parents in the UK wide survey said they too struggle to help their children with tasks set by their teachers.


Burning questions flummox parents

When parents are asked a difficult question by their child, the research discovered that they resort to a range of tactics: five out of ten rush to the internet to research the answer; three out of ten defer to the other parent, telling their child to go and ask their mum or dad; one in every 20 parents fib and creatively make up an answer, others completely change the subject to wriggle out of a tricky topic and some even feign deafness, pretending that they haven’t even heard the question!


Parents study WITH their children!

The research also found that one in three parents regularly spend up to one hour every week on the internet/reading books to help their children’ with homework questions. And one in 20 parents state that they dedicate over two hours each week to this activity.


Other findings include:

  • While 59% of parents admit to sometimes being confused by their child’s homework, four per cent state that they are totally confused - all of the time!
  • 18% of parents believe their child is smarter than them and 35% think they’re about the same. Only 47% of parents thought they were smarter than their kids aged 12 and under
  • Maths is the subjects most likely to have mum and dad lost for words with 48% of all parents admitting this is their Achilles heel.
  • 18% of parents said they were most confused by Science followed by English and Religion.
  • One in every 20 parents admits total defeat – confused by every subject their child is studying at school!


Dorling Kindersley’s publisher of Eyewitness Guides, Andrea Pinnington, says: “These results are absolutely fascinating and explode a lot of the myths we still seem to make about who knows what in our society.


“It seems that children today are catching up fast with their mums and dads. They have instant access to a huge amount of information compared to a relatively short time ago. Previously, parents had to settle with learning from classic text books with pages and pages of tightly crammed information. Children today have the opportunity to develop their general knowledge in an educational and entertaining way – and this is when they learn best.


“Good pictures, diagrams and words can be the key to unlocking a child’s interest in a subject. Our Guides do just that and are packed with all the tools kids – and parents! – need to become experts. That’s why the Eyewitness Series is universally loved by teachers, mums, dads and children across the world.”


The research – undertaken by - is being released to coincide with the new redesign of Dorling Kindersley’s award-winning Eyewitness range of books for children.

Dr Pat Spungin of adds: “One of the most positive findings of this research, is the fact that parents are regularly spending time helping their children research their homework. Parental involvement is known to be one of the most important influences on how well a child does at school. Children whose parents show an active interest in what they are doing at school, are motivated to succeed and develop a positive attitude to learning.”

The Eyewitness series of books are brilliantly visual and cover all the topics children love. They are renowned for captivating and inspiring both a young mind and that of an adult expert. And with most fact hungry children now turning to the internet as well as books for their information the new Eyewitness series is tailored to a multi media approach. The redesigned books now include internet links, a free Clip Art CD so children can make their own projects on subjects as varied as Pirates Insects, Oil and Modern China – and a giant wall chart, all presented in a highly visual format ideal for kids.


For more information: Maria Boyle Serena Stent/Antonia Wilkinson
MB Communications Dorling Kindersley
T: 0208 876 8444 T: 020 7010 3553/3513