A version of the following originally appeared in The Big Issue, which is an excellent magazine that you should go out and buy immediately for a range of reasons only some of which are to do with the fact that I am in the upcoming edition as well.


At my work we have a weekly tradition: Friday morning tea. Coffee, cake and the quiz from the newspaper. It's a great tradition. Except for the bit with the quiz. And sometimes the coffee. And one time the cake. But that's another story.


I have two problems with group quizzes. Firstly, they tend to involve a fair bit of “Hang on! I know this!” followed by the revelation of the actual answer, followed by cries of, “Iceland! Of course! I was just about to say Iceland”. Hence a friendly morning tea degenerates into a fight-to-the-death battle of wills with Lleyton-style appeals to third parties and heartfelt cries of “Come ON!”


Also, clinical tests prove that quizzes melt my brain. I either sit mute and stupid in the corner, or find myself shouting “Iceland! I knew it!” with my colleagues. I feel like I should be good at quizzes. I should know things. “Do not go gentle into that good night” was written by one of my heroes. I just can't think who, although I'm fairly sure it's not Rufus Wainwright or a Marx brother.


Well, it turns out (and I know this because I googled it) I can blame technology. According to Don Tapscott, author of Wikinomics, people who grew up using the internet don't prioritise remembering facts and don't respond to rote learning. A recent British study (googled it) found that tertiary educators are scrambling to adapt so they can teach students native to Google and Twitter and whose appreciation of, say, a Milton poem will come not from memorising the poem but from various sources including that Nick Cave song and maybe a hipster T-shirt with a Milton quote on it.


Who understands the poem better? Who knows? One university has made its position fairly clear by banning research using the internet entirely, favouring the learning of authoritative facts rather than a mess of information provided by faceless individuals with unknown agendas.


But in defence of internet natives: we do know how to use the internet. Generally speaking, we know what information to distrust. Most of it, usually. We're not the people emailing our account details to fake banks. We're not the ones giving money to the nice Nigerian man who needs help with his sick child. We don't trust every piece of information and we sure as hell don't remember it for next time because, by then, it might have changed.


So this is why I do not recall a single useful thread of information while doing a quiz. I'm not dumb, my brain is just more modern than yours. I'm totally getting a T shirt.