Friday, October 1, 2010

The Dumbing Down of America

George Carlin once did a bit about the corporate control of America and how those corporations own everything, including the schools. He concluded that the reason that education in this country is so inferior to other countries is because the powers that be don’t want a citizenry that can think for itself and make informed decisions about anything other than what to have for lunch on any given day. And he may be right.
As I walk around town, not just here in Georgia, but even back in my hometown of Kerhonkson, New York, (a small town the size of Jackson) where I just visited this week, I see signs, literally and figuratively, that are disturbing,. The very basics of our educational system are falling by the wayside and it’s something that needs to be corrected immediately. I’m talking about our rapidly failing ability to read and write properly. It’s everywhere.
A friend recently put an ad in her local paper in north Georgia. She was looking for a job, and phrased the ad that way. She also gave her qualifications and described her “skill set” and left her phone number in the ad. Calls started coming in….from people who did not read the ad properly and who were looking for a job, not offering one. It happens all the time.
Another friend recently took on the task of reading and rating entries in a youth writing challenge sponsored by Positive Impact Magazine. The contest is open to school children of all ages. To her dismay, she discovered that the best writing came from children in grades four through six, and that they wrote on a higher level than the average high school student. It’s just one person’s observation, but it is indicative of a greater problem that has helped drop this country’s status in the world rankings further and futher down the list. This country is getting dumber. Why is that?
I was a school teacher for six years. I taught all subjects, but the one I stressed and focused on most was reading. If you never learn another subject, you must learn to read. Reading, and writing, are the keys that open all doors. Don’t know how to make an apple pie? Read the recipe. Don’t know when the Civil War was? Get a book and READ.
And write. The simplest errors are often the ones that stand out the most. As a writer, when I see a sign that says, “Puppie’s for sale” or “free kitten’s,” I cringe. Folks, apostrophes are possessive, as, “The puppies are Larry’s. ” It’s a small error but just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the dumbing down of America. When the signs say, “Puppy’s for sale,” then I get even more worried.
In an era where everyone has a blog and technology and internet use has increased a million-fold, lazy habits become more and more commonplace. “Texting” has created a whole new language, adding to the mess. Audio books have reduced the number of actual books read, and the country as a whole seems to be dumbing down and getting lazier. In the meantime, our competition in the world market seem to be sharpening their collective axes and are just waiting for us to get to the point where they can chop our heads off and take over as the dominant world power, if they have not already.
It’s not a simple solution to regain our position as a world superpower overnight , but learning the basics all over again would be a good start. Readin’ and writin’ people! Do it!

1 comment:

  1. Reading, Writing, Math and Science. The very VITAL basic ingredients within education from day ONE of human existence, no doubt!

    These,"our basics" should be re-covered and
    re-addressed, taught, and RE-supported by every single one of us.
    Great article here, and just the one I will read aloud to a few folks I know.
    Thank you for these open words to ponder.
    Vital ones in which to talk about, and act with.