A very good column by Patrice Lewis (Rural Revolution) about the Dumbest Generation over at World Net Daily. In it she makes points that the plug in generation of today is becoming something less than literate.
In her column she compares today’s students and their efforts to get information and write a paper on an assigned subject matter. Here she quotes from the book The Dumbest Generation by Mark Bauerlein:
The trouble, apparently, is while kids are frighteningly savvy when it comes to all electronic media, those skills do not translate into actual knowledge. They do not retain material they study. “When the fifth-grade teachers assign a topic, the kids proceed like this: go to Google, type in keywords, download three relevant sites, cut and paste passages into a new document, add transitions of their own, print it up, and turn it in. The model is information retrieval, not knowledge formation, and the material passes from Web to homework paper with lodging in the minds of the students.”
Here is how she describes her efforts when writing a paper “back in the day”:
Contrast this with the papers I had to write in the 1970s public (yes, public) school system. I was assigned a topic; I went to the library and found several books on the subject; read the books and hand-copied relevant passages; re-wrote the passages in my own words; organized the paper into cohesive and logical sequence; typed the paper up on a typewriter (remember those?), and turned it in. I still remember several papers I wrote, and it has been decades.
I can certainly see where she is coming from. I have my own teenage boys and they can run circles around me when it comes to technology, but they have no clue who is Dorian Gray, and they think Nemo is the Disney fish. My oldest son is in Advanced Placement American History and his study habits are not much different than those described by Bauerlein and Lewis above. Fortunately, his teacher expects vocabulary answers to be hand written so he at least has to transcribe the information from the screen to the paper. But he still doesn’t always understand the context behind the words and phrases he is looking up and writing down.
“Back in the day”, I had to read an entire section of a text book to find the vocab words or phrases so I was at least able to gain some knowledge. When my son is having some trouble finding or understanding a word, he hates asking me because I am not capable of giving him the eight word answer he is looking for. I have to describe it, and then tell him how it relates to other words he is searching for, and finally, how it all impacts then and now.
At the conclusion of her column Lewis wonders if there might be a grand design behind the dumbing down on this generation:
I will add, do you think it’s all a giant plan? Is this plethora of electronic marvels designed specifically to distract the younger generation from developing an interest in civics or politics or history? I’m not one for conspiracies do I won’t take it that far, but it does make me wonder sometimes.
When you see the efforts of progressive and liberals to change or delete moments in our history it really does make one begin to wonder about if there is not a concerted effort at making each successive generation dumber than the previous. My father’s history is different than my sons’ history. In my father’s day, Columbus was a great, but troubled, explorer who discovered the “New World”. In my sons’ history, he was a man is unworthy of celebration or consideration because he brought destruction upon the Native Americans.
Your opinion is going to be dependent upon whether you are liberal or conservative. Until recently, the progressive educational agenda has held sway, now it is beginning to swing back the other way. Just the other day my oldest son and I got into an argument. When I told him the conversation was over and that he was done talking he informed me that one of his teachers told him he had freedom of speech and I couldn’t silence him. I was only partially stunned because I have become used to having to re-teach him some of the progressive clap-trap he has brought home. The part that was DID stun me was the lack of education his teacher displayed. The First Amendment says “Congress shall make no law…; or abridging the freedom of speech…” Please note that is says “Congress shall make no law”. It doesn’t say “Parents shall make no law”. Education has long been an arena where omission of facts soon becomes THE fact. This situation is no different. Tell the kid enough times that he has equal rights and I cannot curb his 'free speech' and soon they will all believe it is true. Anarchy will result.