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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Abandon hope all ye who enter here

     There is a book titled The Dumbest Generation, How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future that is an assessment of the lack of knowledge and interest of current events for a large portion of today's youth and reveals how a whole generation of youth is being dumbed down by their aversion to reading anything of substance and their addiction to digital crap on social media. 
     According to the author's statistics there is ample evidence that Americans are getting dumber by the decade. Part of that is because of the declining quality of education, especially at the college level. The US ranked 52nd among 139 nations in the quality of its university math and science instruction in 2010.
     At the public school level a whopping 68 percent of public children do not read proficiently by the time they finish third grade. And the US News and World reported that barely 50 percent of students are ready for college-level reading when they graduate. 
     We have created a class of angry dummies who, to paraphrase Signs of the Times, feel they have the right, the authority and the need not only to comment on everything, but to make sure their voice is heard above the rest and to drag down any opposing views through personal attacks, loud repetition and confrontation. Many haunt social media howling like dogs about anything and everything. They aren't alone though.  Just look at the television "news" and newspaper headlines; stories are often politically motivated. Political candidates don't discuss issues; they take out televisions ads telling us what a lying, thieving rat their opponent is.  Brain dead athletes and silly Hollywood "stars" fancy themselves experts on everything under the sun.  Is it being a hypocrite when they scream for a ban on guns, but travel with armed bodyguards?  Or, when they want to let anybody who wants to just walk into the country while they live isolated in gated communities.  What kind of class does a fellow like George Lopez show when he publicly urinated on President Trump's Hollywood Walk of Fame star?  He is allowed to voice his opinion on the President, but urinating on the sidewalk in public shows a complete lack of class.
     An interesting statistics is that the highest-paid employee in each state is usually the football coach at the largest state school. Depending on the university it could be the basketball coach. However, it must be pointed out that people's hard-earned tax dollars aren't paying these coaches. Most coaches create their own salary which is paid from revenue generated by their team. Sports are big bucks and the Math and English departments don't rake in $200 million a year for the school. 
    However, the revenue generated by athletic teams rarely makes its way back to the general funds. The revenue generated is sucked up by salaries and “administrative” costs. It's not like the money finds its way into classroom equipment. In any case, it shows where priorities are. 

* Here are a couple of scary statistics: 
* 75 percent of young adults cannot find Israel on a map of the Middle East.
* There are more than 4 million adult websites on the internet and they get more traffic than Netflix, Amazon and Twitter combined. 
* Almost 10 percent of college graduates believe that Judge Judy is on the Supreme Court. 

    What's more, the American Council of Trustees and Alumni publishes reports on what college students know, or rather don't know. Eighty percent of college graduates did not know what effect the Emancipation Proclamation had on the country and 25 percent could not name the president during World War II (Franklin D. Roosevelt) and had no idea what his New Deal was about. 
     It's not just students. A few years back Newsweek magazine asked 1,000 people to take the US citizenship test and most failed miserably. The most appalling statistic of all was that 6 percent couldn't circle Independence Day on a calendar. 

     Only 43 percent of high school students knew that the Civil War was fought some time between 1850 and 1900. More than a quarter of all high school students thought that Columbus made his famous voyage after the year 1750. Approximately a third of all U.S. high school students did not know that the Bill of Rights guarantees freedom of speech and freedom of religion. Only 60 percent of all students knew that World War I was fought some time between 1900 and 1950. 
     Even though more Americans between the ages of 20 to 34 are achieving higher education, they're still falling behind other countries. In Japan, Finland and the Netherlands, young adults with a high school degree scored on par with America's young adults holding a four-year college degree. Americans score dead last in technical proficiency, dead last in numeracy and only two countries performed worse than us when it came to literacy proficiency. 
     What's happened? You can't blame it all on teachers. One survey discovered that college students spent 50 percent less time studying compared with students of few decades ago with 35 percent of them spending less than five hours a week studying. And, 40 percent reported that they only read about 40 pages a week per semester. 
     Of course the reasons for these statistics may have something to do with courses being offered by some colleges: What If Harry Potter Is Real?, Lady Gaga and the Sociology of Fame, Philosophy And Star Trek, Learning From YouTube and my favorite, How To Watch Television. I remember one fellow who was complaining that he had a college degree and the only job he had been able to land was a security guard. I asked him what his degree was in and he said, “Music.” So, out of curiosity I asked what instrument he played and he said, “The tuba.” Now, I'm pretty sure there are professional tuba players in the country, but my guess is that both of them have jobs. 
     Young Americans spend far more time consuming media than they do hitting the books, and what passes for "entertainment" these days is rapidly turning their brains to mush. 
     According to a report put out by Nielsen, this is how much time the average American spends using electronic media: 

* Watching television: 5 hours 
* Listening to the radio: 2 hours, 44 minutes 
* Using a smartphone: 1 hour, 33 minutes 
* Using Internet: 1 hour, 6 minutes 

   The average American spends more than 10 hours a day using some form of media and the old computer saying, garbage in, garbage out applies. All of that garbage can make it very, very difficult to think. 
   My father was a foreman on the railroad and only had a high school education, but looking back I realized some things about him. His handwriting was neat and he refused to let me use sloppy handwriting.  They don't even teach kids that any more. If I misspelled a word he insisted I look it up in the dictionary and he could quote Robert Burns poem To a Louse.  He still remembered a lot of his high school Latin! He never missed the evening news on television and Meet the Press was a must watch program. If I needed information about history for school work, he was the man to talk to. Those 1924 high school graduates had a decent education!

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