05 March 2007

School for Dummies

Not that kind of dummy! Schools are in fact manufacturing dummies--functional illiterates--at a record pace.
...if you think that newspaper readership follows education, you would expect it to increase. But it has declined for every level of education.

....Magazines are likewise in trouble. Paid circulation for magazines covered by the Audit Bureau of Circulation peaked in 2000 at 379 million; dropping to 362 million by 2005, in spite of increasing population, higher incomes, and educational attainment. I suspect that the greatest decline is in the magazines that offer the most in terms of knowledge and thoughtful analysis.

....One reason adults are reading less is that an increasing number of them are unable to do so. The National Center for Education Statistics conducted surveys of adult literacy in 1992 and 2003. It tested ability to read prose, documents, and quantitative materials, such as graphs, charts, and tables. At every level of educational attainment, from elementary school through college, prose and document literacy has fallen

....The decline in reading amounts to a decline in learning and knowledge. The vocabulary acquired through normal everyday conversation is limited. The much greater vocabulary of educated adults is learned mainly through reading. As to knowledge, one can learn from fiction, but not in a coherent systematic manner.

....There are cognitive differences between readers and nonreaders, and between good and poor readers. Reading and writing are more abstract, objective, and analytical than oral communication. Readers display a greater range and complexity of expression. Cognitive gains include ability to generalize instead of thinking only in particulars, to use analogy, to classify according to common abstract properties. Such abilities are found with much lower frequency among illiterates.

The philosophy prevailing in public schools has helped undermine the quest for knowledge—to rebuild literacy, we must reverse it. Two generations have been taught that they have a right to their own opinion without regard to their mastery of the subject; that all opinions are of equal value. This assumption underlies the popularity of public opinion polls as means of settling matters of fact and logic. No one told them that such an opinion is worth somewhere between a plugged nickel and a tinker’s damn. So why do one’s homework? Why read, why think?

When you combine increased narcissism, psychological neoteny, and reduced literacy and cognitive skills, large numbers of modern graduates--and dropouts--may have somewhat less to offer society than they think.

There is a strong need for efficacious schooling for children and youth--even for adults. To stop a raging epidemic (of illiteracy and functional stupidity) one must go to the source. In this case, the source (university ed schools, the education industry, teachers' unions, the media, etc.) are virtually untouchable in the US due to their vital importance to one of the major political parties.

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Blogger Unknown said...

Not just the US, add the UK at least, probably most of Europe, but not India or the Far East.

Monday, 05 March, 2007  
Blogger Audacious Epigone said...

Hehe, 'Idiocracy' as a label.

I thoroughly enjoy that someone with your level of intelligence retains a sense of humor that surpasses the dry cycnicism that one might expect from a person of your caliber.

Keep it up!

Wednesday, 07 March, 2007  
Blogger Cedric Morrison said...

I suspect much of the decline in magazine and newspaper reading in recent years has come from the rise of the internet. Being able to access relevant links, look up unknown vocabulary, search for additional information, and adjust the text size and column width to one's personal preference is simply a much more convenient and satisfying way of accessing the types of information traditional periodicals provide. Personally, I also prefer to read books encoded in HTML to books on paper.

Regarding the decline in reading scores, television no doubt hurt literacy, but that drop happened years ago. Surely, dysgenic birth trends and the immigration of millions of low-IQ residents have had a larger influence more recently.

Wednesday, 07 March, 2007  
Blogger al fin said...

tdaw: You are no doubt correct that the problem extends beyond just the US.

C41: It is necessary to confront the forces that tend to "dumb down" the population. But there needs to be a "pressure relief valve" so the message is not one of hopelessness. Humour tends to work better with most people than straight cynicism, by relieving tension and allowing more innovative thinking to emerge.

Cedric: Yes, the internet, television, dysgenic population trends--all explain part of the reduced reading of print publications and reduced literacy on tests.

Dysfunctional educational practices further help explain why most people who do not read newspapers, books, and magazines, also do not read very much on the internet, nor take advantage of the many pro-literacy features of the internet.

The educational system in the US is broken. It produces narcissistic, psychologically neotenous, and functionally illiterate children and youth. For those who go on, universities continue the process with academic lobotomisation.

If the system does that to average and above average children, imagine what it does to the below average.

If you have not seen the absurd film "Idiocracy", you might give it a look. At the current rate of dumbing down, we may arrive there 450 years early.

Wednesday, 07 March, 2007  

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“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act” _George Orwell

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