Sunday, October 28, 2007

Dumb and Dumber

Okay, we all know that America's public education is lousy. But, really, how dumb are American kids? Mark Morford has heard from his teacher friend that they're ''dumber than dirt''. It's not exactly a wide ranging study he's done here. However, most studies seem to show that students in public schools don't learn such complex and esoteric skills as writing sentences or multiplying numbers anymore. I don't think that really makes any of them dumb. Just short-changed.

I've taught university students from this generation and I'll say that, indeed, a great many of them can't do basic things like form paragraphs or understand short passages that they've read; but that's not the problem really. The problem is that they don't see any problem with the fact that they can't do these things. Who cares if they can write sentences? After all, it's not like they're going to become authors. I have no idea how to convince them that it matters. It's actually terrifying to try. And, from what I've seen, the parents have no more curiosity or concern than the kids.

What is to be done? Marford is convinced that none of this bodes well for the future. Probably not. But, the future is probably not as grim as he suggests in his article. After all, several other countries still offer their kids an excellent education, as do American private schools. So, the complex problems won't go unsolved. Civilization won't collapse.

But, I suppose the question is- if a majority of the future American population can't read at an adult level or understand basic math, logic, or science, should they get to vote?


Holly said...

Maybe voting should be MANDATORY, enforced with the strictest possible penalties for those who don't fulfill their civic commitments. People'd be in a hurry to learn to read, then!

gregvw said...

Ah, the hell whitcha. I'm going to go have my own eugenics program. With strippers and blackjack!

Rufus said...

Holly- I don't know. With the Republicans trying to convince people that a legitimate reason not to vote for John Edwards is that he kinda looks faggy, I might not expect people to start reading any more than they do now.

Greg- Isn't Las Vegas a eugenics program with strippers and blackjack?

Holly said...

yeah, ok, that's a point. Hell, voting is obligatory in Venezuela, and that doesn't stop anyone grumbling about the foregone conclusions of the elections.

What about caning? For ignorance. For vapidness. For suggesting that looking kinda faggy is in some way a problem. Either people will learn enough about logic and government process to get it changed, or future generations will develop a caning-proof carapace. Either way, mankind wins!

Holly said...

By Venezuela, of course, I mean Argentina.

Don't ask, OK? Just don't.

Rufus said...

It might help if the news didn't act as if people 'voting their emotions' was completely inevitable. I'll see these things on CNN that are like 'It's clearly going to be hard for Barack Obama. Many voters say they're unwilling to vote for someone whose middle name is Hussein.' It might help if they added something like, 'However, it is the belief of this station and this anchorman that, if you are stupid enough to vote based on someone's middle name, you're probably too fucking stupid to function, and should consider the option of suicide.'

Jean-Marc said...

Bit of an old comment thread this, but Americans babble on about logic A LOT. Logic, either formal or symbolic, is not taught to school children or even 95% of of the rest of people in education. You mean reason/rationalism/common sense, anything but logic, which is a specialised system of reasoning.