Saturday, June 1, 2019

The Decline and Fall of the American Mind

Today seems to be education day. Or better, it seems to be the day when we discover some important articles about the decline and fall of the American mind.

Over the past decade college students have become dumb and dumber. It’s astonishing. It might be the result of Common Core reforms, the ones that, as noted in the previous post, diminished children’s capacity to read and to do math. It might have been the advent of technology. It might have been the simple fact that children learned the new lesson, hawked by politicians and academics alike-- namely, that it was bad to excel… because if you do better you make those who did less well feel bad. In the name of therapy, American children have learned how not to read.

Fred Siegel takes the measure of it all in an article for Minding the Campus. He begins by noting some recent comments by an English professor by name of David Joliffe. As quoted in an article by Steven Johnson in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Joliffe bemoans the fact that his college students have increasingly become functional illiterates.

The article opens with David Joliffe, an English professor at the of the University of Arkansas, depicting his students’ inability to tell the difference between fiction and non-fiction. Johnson tells us this isn’t just another version of a “kids these days lament.”

Students these days explains Professor Joliffe, “are not as capable as students were in previous generations as critical readers.” A study by Colin M. Burchfield and John Sappington compared 910 psychology students’ self-reports and performance on pop quizzes over time.

“They found that just 20 percent of students normally did the readings in 1997, down from about 80 percent 16 years earlier.” During a normal week, “…Whether in two-year or four-year colleges, in the humanities or STEM, about 20 to 40 percent of students do the reading. “

The dumber the student body the more likely they are to latch on to insane ideas promoted by bigots like Rashida Tlaib:

The once creeping, now trotting illiteracy has real-world consequences. Recently Rashida Tlaib, the Congresswomen from Ramallah, engaged in Holocaust revisionism. She said she was proud of the way Palestinians tried to protect the Jews from the Holocaust. Unfortunately, an occasional crocodile tear aside, they didn’t. Their leader Haj Amin al-Husseini made a career of assassinating Palestinian moderates. He was a close ally of Hitler and did everything he could to advance the Holocaust.

But how do you explain this to the historically and geographically bereft millennials and those who follow them who can’t find the Middle East on a map and for whom WWII is ancient history? The despicable Democrat from Dearborn will get away with her lies while K-16 sinks into historical illiteracy.

Let's not forget, for today's college students an imbecile like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a hero.

If today’s students know nothing about the Holocaust or World War II, we do not expect that they know anything about the Lincoln-Douglas debates:

One day, while giving my annual talk in 2005 about the Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1856 at a respected East Coast college made famous by Lincoln, I had a eureka moment of sorts. I was trying to explain the deep differences between Northern and Southern Illinois, which reaches well below the Mason-Dixon line.

I expected these sterling students – based on their SAT performances – to know about this famous dividing line which was important for Senator Stephen A. Douglas’ support. But I was mistaken. I saw the puzzled look in their eyes, and I realized that these college sophomores had never heard of the Mason-Dixon line. I pressed on. I asked. Where is Illinois?

One answered, “near Philadelphia,” most just shrugged their shoulders, with the best of the lot explaining that it was “in Chicago.” In what followed I gave the supposed college students an 8th-grade geography lesson.

There you have it: Illinois is near Philadelphia… when it is not in Chicago. These students are not merely stupid. They are hopeless.

At that moment Siegel decided that it was time to plan his retirement.


trigger warning said...

There is much to criticize in Common Core and other obvious and rotten low-hanging fruit. But, in my opinion, these culprits are fruit of the poisonous tree.

The tree is Departments and Schools of Education in colleges and universities across America, and their bizarre and poisoned theories. As an example of education "research", the education bureaucracy in Wisconsin, enamored with a correlation between visual-motor skill and reading disability, proceeded to develop a reading program designed to raise reading skill by teaching students to walk a balance beam (basically, a 2x4 on edge). Need I mention the current enthusiasm for "restorative" justice? But I suppose Exhibit A should be Christine Blasey Ford, a "doctor" of education whose doctorate was granted by none other than USC, whose "dissertation" was a study of children's conflict resolution skills and stuffed animals, and who now holds a non-teaching "professorship" in a Palo Alto women's psychology diploma mill.

A motivated and bright student can learn more than his or her teachers know, but the true autodidact is a rare bird indeed.

Sam L. said...

Common Core and the dumbing down of education is the result of Democrat "educators". I'd ask why they hate our youth, but it's that they want our youth to blindly accept what they are told...and be "good little socialists" forever after.

Yep! Cynical is ME.

UbuMaccabee said...

They think they are going to create good little activists and social justice warriors, but what they are going to get are rotten sub-literate cowards who are only fit for slavery. And as socialism slouches forward, I take some solace that someone, somehow, will use them as they are fit. I just hope I get my time at bat.