Friday, October 26, 2007


"We are [in the US], as far as urban public education is concerned, essentially at rock bottom. We are now at a point where we are essentially churning out ignorant teens who are becoming ignorant adults and society as a whole will pay dearly, very soon...

It's gotten so bad that, as my friend nears retirement, he says he is very seriously considering moving out of the country so as to escape what he sees will be the surefire collapse of functioning American society in the next handful of years due to the absolutely irrefutable destruction, the shocking — and nearly hopeless — dumb-ification of the American brain. It is just that bad."

There have been signs of this already, in higher office... And I remember in an online forum a couple of years ago, one of the (twentyish American) participants asked: "Anybody here know how to write cursive?" I hope the same thing isn't beginning to happen in Japan...

On the other hand, as Frank Zappa pointed out before he went to heaven, "Stupidity is the basic building block of the universe." So this could be the start of something new and exciting that's coming along... like a vast mental mudslide?

[10.27 addendum: And as if that weren't enough of a problem for the newbies...]

[To say nothing of this...]


Winston said...

That is not much of an exaggeration. The average high school graduate here cannot string words together to make a complete sentence. They have zero math skills. And knowledge of the world and our country is so shallow as to be meaningless.

They all have an iPod stuck in one ear and a Bluetooth bug in the other and talk, text, or chat with their buds 24x7.

We may be producing just enough bright, intelligent, responsible kids to run business and government, given that they have better computer systems than exist today. The other 99% will be working at McDonalds or WalMart, because all meaningful jobs have been shipped off to India, China, and elsewhere.

Rant over. Thanks for the opportunity...

Joy Des Jardins said...

My daughter, a women's history professor in NY, has long ago passed the lamenting stage regarding the sad state of affairs our children are in. She is downright despondent when she's faced with having to deal with students who have shuffled through the system and managed to get to the college level with such horrendous language, spelling, and writing skills. By's the most difficult part of her job to cope with.

Nevin said...

I used to be a teacher in British Columbia ten years ago, just about the time when classes were beginning to be swamped with students identified as having special needs and learning disabilities.

It's now more difficult than ever before to teach, and part of the reason is that fewer students drop out.

In the past, at least in Canada, students could leave school at 15 and get a job in the woods, on a fishing boat or in the mine.

Those semi-skilled, yet high-paying jobs have disappeared. So, students must stay in school longer.

There's greater access to education than ever before, and also greater access to media such as the Internet.That's why it's going to seem that education standards are going down, that this generation is going to hell.

The real problem, at least in my opinion, is that we now live in such a technocratic society, that if you cannot write code or design hardware or engineer something, you will be forced to join the service class. This is where the economic divide begins.

One more point. From the SFGate article:

Most affluent parents in America — and many more who aren't — now put their kids in private schools from day one, and the smart ones give their kids no TV and minimal junk food and no video games.

I would love to go this route with my son, too, but I don't think I can. Games and tv give kids something to talk about. It gives them social currency. Take away this social currency, and children are left at a tremendous disadvantage in the playground.

Moderation is best.

Bob Brady said...

Thanks for these thought-provoking comments, folks. Here's hoping there's maybe some kind of learning going on that we don't know about yet...

Anna said...

Same thing is happening in the UK and still the educational bigots are trying to eliminate the grammar schools, centres of excellence, as elitist institutions.
The public libraries find massive decline in reading among the young and are becoming internet cafes, a particular agony for me after a lifetime working hard to keep kids interested.

A friend's potentially bright 15 year had never heard of the Pharaohs, couldn't find New York on a map, has a reading age of about 9 and can only multiply on a calculator. "What do you do all day at school?" "They let me draw if I'll keep quiet." he said. Well, I'm trying to improve his reading, that would be something.

Sorry, another rant, but it's incredibly worrying.

Trace said...

Aaaaah. These comments are all very thought provoking; and very sad to me, as well.

I live in an area where approximately 40% of the adult population of the county are illiterate. These are men and women who are my age; (40s-50s)and, for whatever reasons, they were passed on through the system and given highschool diplomas.

I remember when I was very young, I was around older people. My maternal grandparents raised me; a whole village of people influenced my life as I grew in the small coal mining town, a world away now it seems. Looking back, I sometimes think I wish I had rebelled more at all the "normal" ages when kids rebel against ther parents, the system, government...

I thought like an adult at a very young age. I remember thinking back then, (and not one of my grandparents or great-grandparents ever mentioned this to me)that someday technology would replace imagination and self-motivation.

We have arrived, my friends.