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American kids, dumber than dirt

 
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User ID: 316715
Russian Federation
10/25/2007 03:01 PM
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American kids, dumber than dirt
Warning: The next generation might just be the biggest pile of idiots in U.S. history
By Mark Morford, SF Gate Columnist

[link to www.sfgate.com]


I have this ongoing discussion with a longtime reader who also just so happens to be a longtime Oakland high school teacher, a wonderful guy who's seen generations of teens come and generations go and who has a delightful poetic sensibility and quirky outlook on his life and his family and his beloved teaching career.

And he often writes to me in response to something I might've written about the youth of today, anything where I comment on the various nefarious factors shaping their minds and their perspectives and whether or not, say, EMFs and junk food and cell phones are melting their brains and what can be done and just how bad it might all be.

His response: It is not bad at all. It's absolutely horrifying.

My friend often summarizes for me what he sees, firsthand, every day and every month, year in and year out, in his classroom. He speaks not merely of the sad decline in overall intellectual acumen among students over the years, not merely of the astonishing spread of lazy slackerhood, or the fact that cell phones and iPods and excess TV exposure are, absolutely and without reservation, short-circuiting the minds of the upcoming generations. Of this, he says, there is zero doubt.

Nor does he speak merely of the notion that kids these days are overprotected and wussified and don't spend enough time outdoors and don't get any real exercise and therefore can't, say, identify basic plants, or handle a tool, or build, well, anything at all. Again, these things are a given. Widely reported, tragically ignored, nothing new.

No, my friend takes it all a full step — or rather, leap — further. It is not merely a sad slide. It is not just a general dumbing down. It is far uglier than that.

We are, as far as urban public education is concerned, essentially at rock bottom. We are now at a point where we are essentially churning out ignorant teens who are becoming ignorant adults and society as a whole will pay dearly, very soon, and if you think the hordes of easily terrified, mindless fundamentalist evangelical Christian lemmings have been bad for the soul of this country, just wait.

It's gotten so bad that, as my friend nears retirement, he says he is very seriously considering moving out of the country so as to escape what he sees will be the surefire collapse of functioning American society in the next handful of years due to the absolutely irrefutable destruction, the shocking — and nearly hopeless — dumb-ification of the American brain. It is just that bad.

Now, you may think he's merely a curmudgeon, a tired old teacher who stopped caring long ago. Not true. Teaching is his life. He says he loves his students, loves education and learning and watching young minds awaken. Problem is, he is seeing much less of it. It's a bit like the melting of the polar ice caps. Sure, there's been alarmist data about it for years, but until you see it for yourself, the deep visceral dread doesn't really hit home.

He cites studies, reports, hard data, from the appalling effects of television on child brain development (i.e.; any TV exposure before 6 years old and your kid's basic cognitive wiring and spatial perceptions are pretty much scrambled for life), to the fact that, because of all the insidious mandatory testing teachers are now forced to incorporate into the curriculum, of the 182 school days in a year, there are 110 when such testing is going on somewhere at Oakland High. As one of his colleagues put it, "It's like weighing a calf twice a day, but never feeding it."

But most of all, he simply observes his students, year to year, noting all the obvious evidence of teens' decreasing abilities when confronted with even the most basic intellectual tasks, from understanding simple history to working through moderately complex ideas to even (in a couple recent examples that particularly distressed him) being able to define the words "agriculture," or even "democracy." Not a single student could do it.

It gets worse. My friend cites the fact that, of the 6,000 high school students he estimates he's taught over the span of his career, only a small fraction now make it to his grade with a functioning understanding of written English. They do not know how to form a sentence. They cannot write an intelligible paragraph. Recently, after giving an assignment that required drawing lines, he realized that not a single student actually knew how to use a ruler.

It is, in short, nothing less than a tidal wave of dumb, with once-passionate, increasingly exasperated teachers like my friend nearly powerless to stop it. The worst part: It's not the kids' fault. They're merely the victims of a horribly failed educational system.

Then our discussion often turns to the meat of it, the bigger picture, the ugly and unavoidable truism about the lack of need among the government and the power elite in this nation to create a truly effective educational system, one that actually generates intelligent, thoughtful, articulate citizens.

Hell, why should they? After all, the dumber the populace, the easier it is to rule and control and launch unwinnable wars and pass laws telling them that sex is bad and TV is good and God knows all, so just pipe down and eat your Taco Bell Double-Supremo Burrito and be glad we don't arrest you for posting dirty pictures on your cute little blog.

This is about when I try to offer counterevidence, a bit of optimism. For one thing, I've argued generational relativity in this space before, suggesting maybe kids are no scarier or dumber or more dangerous than they've ever been, and that maybe some of the problem is merely the same old awkward generation gap, with every current generation absolutely convinced the subsequent one is terrifically stupid and malicious and will be the end of society as a whole. Just the way it always seems.

I also point out how, despite all the evidence of total public-education meltdown, I keep being surprised, keep hearing from/about teens and youth movements and actions that impress the hell out of me. Damn kids made the Internet what it is today, fer chrissakes. Revolutionized media. Broke all the rules. Still are.

Hell, some of the best designers, writers, artists, poets, chefs, and so on that I meet are in their early to mid-20s. And the nation's top universities are still managing, despite a factory-churning mentality, to crank out young minds of astonishing ability and acumen. How did these kids do it? How did they escape the horrible public school system? How did they avoid the great dumbing down of America? Did they never see a TV show until they hit puberty? Were they all born and raised elsewhere, in India and Asia and Russia? Did they all go to Waldorf or Montessori and eat whole-grain breads and play with firecrackers and take long walks in wild nature? Are these kids flukes? Exceptions? Just lucky?

My friend would say, well, yes, that's precisely what most of them are. Lucky, wealthy, foreign-born, private-schooled ... and increasingly rare. Most affluent parents in America — and many more who aren't — now put their kids in private schools from day one, and the smart ones give their kids no TV and minimal junk food and no video games. (Of course, this in no way guarantees a smart, attuned kid, but compared to the odds of success in the public school system, it sure seems to help). This covers about, what, 3 percent of the populace?

As for the rest, well, the dystopian evidence seems overwhelming indeed, to the point where it might be no stretch at all to say the biggest threat facing America is perhaps not global warming, not perpetual warmongering, not garbage food or low-level radiation or way too much Lindsay Lohan, but a populace far too ignorant to know how to properly manage any of it, much less change it all for the better.

What, too fatalistic? Don't worry. Soon enough, no one will know what the word even means.
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 303205
Canada
10/25/2007 03:10 PM
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Re: American kids, dumber than dirt
If you want a view of the future, watch the movie Idiocracy.
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 317290
United States
10/25/2007 03:11 PM
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Re: American kids, dumber than dirt
bsflag

I have a gifted and talented child.
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 286176
United States
10/25/2007 03:15 PM
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Re: American kids, dumber than dirt
bump
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 265178
United States
10/25/2007 03:16 PM
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Re: American kids, dumber than dirt
Well sure kids can't do long division on a piece of paper but you should see them play Halo3 ! It's really going to pay off when they're going through the help wanted ads !
Anonymous Coward
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United States
10/25/2007 03:17 PM
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Re: American kids, dumber than dirt
bsflag

I have a gifted and talented child.
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 317290

Which means what? Your child can spell his or her name?
Sireen
User ID: 316770
United States
10/25/2007 03:17 PM
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Re: American kids, dumber than dirt
That's relative to their contribution to society.

Video game junkies will do quite well in the future and therefore have all the money and power due to the structure becoming completely reliant on the internet and computers.
Anonymous Coward
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United States
10/25/2007 03:18 PM
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Re: American kids, dumber than dirt
Well sure kids can't do long division on a piece of paper but you should see them play Halo3 ! It's really going to pay off when they're going through the help wanted ads !
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 265178



Yeah..I saw 20 job openings in the classifieds for people who could do long division just yesterday.
Anonymous Coward
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United States
10/25/2007 03:18 PM
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Re: American kids, dumber than dirt
That's relative to their contribution to society.

Video game junkies will do quite well in the future and therefore have all the money and power due to the structure becoming completely reliant on the internet and computers.
 Quoting: Sireen 316770



yep.
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 317290
United States
10/25/2007 03:20 PM
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Re: American kids, dumber than dirt
bsflag

I have a gifted and talented child.

Which means what? Your child can spell his or her name?
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 297320


No dipshit, my child is levels ahead of her grade and the other kids in her class. She has been since she started school. She is not dumber than dirt. She's probably smarter than you.
Anonymous Coward
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United States
10/25/2007 03:22 PM
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Re: American kids, dumber than dirt
I hate people that brag about their kids.
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 317290
United States
10/25/2007 03:23 PM
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Re: American kids, dumber than dirt
I hate people that brag about their kids.
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 260371

Who gives a fuck what you hate.
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 316770
United States
10/25/2007 03:23 PM
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Re: American kids, dumber than dirt
If you look at how our military does so much via computers and robotics...everything controled by a control stick from a safety of an aircraft carrier hundreds of miles at sea, you can then understand the huge push on video games and war games.

We are inadvertantly creating future soldiers.
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 317295
Belgium
10/25/2007 03:26 PM
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Re: American kids, dumber than dirt
bsflag

I have a gifted and talented child.

Which means what? Your child can spell his or her name?


No dipshit, my child is levels ahead of her grade and the other kids in her class. She has been since she started school. She is not dumber than dirt. She's probably smarter than you.
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 317290

In Europe she probably fail LOL
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 315943
United Kingdom
10/25/2007 03:29 PM
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Re: American kids, dumber than dirt
bsflag

I have a gifted and talented child.

Which means what? Your child can spell his or her name?


No dipshit, my child is levels ahead of her grade and the other kids in her class. She has been since she started school. She is not dumber than dirt. She's probably smarter than you.

In Europe she probably fail LOL
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 317295



You did fail AC
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 317290
United States
10/25/2007 03:30 PM
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Re: American kids, dumber than dirt
bsflag

I have a gifted and talented child.

Which means what? Your child can spell his or her name?


No dipshit, my child is levels ahead of her grade and the other kids in her class. She has been since she started school. She is not dumber than dirt. She's probably smarter than you.

In Europe she probably fail LOL
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 317295


By your sentence we know you failed.
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 132975
United Kingdom
10/25/2007 03:31 PM
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Re: American kids, dumber than dirt
I hate people that brag about their kids.

Who gives a fuck what you hate.
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 317290


Are you a teacher of many decades experience in public schools, like Morford's friend?

If not, kindly STFU.

Just because you daughter is gifted and talented does not mean that all is well in the US school system.

Oh, and you're obviously an obnoxious asshole.
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 303205
Canada
10/25/2007 03:33 PM
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Re: American kids, dumber than dirt
Same thing is happening in Canada, but up here its worse because of one thing: They THINK they're smart.

They're pseudo-intellectuals.

It is very dangerous to be an idiot and think that you have the plan to change the world.

It's even more dangerous to gather with other idiots that agree with you.








An avalanche is nothing more than a few flakes getting together.
Anonymous Coward
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United States
10/25/2007 03:34 PM
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Re: American kids, dumber than dirt
If you look at how our military does so much via computers and robotics...everything controled by a control stick from a safety of an aircraft carrier hundreds of miles at sea, you can then understand the huge push on video games and war games.

We are inadvertantly creating future soldiers.
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 316770

inadvertantly? i THINK NOT.
Mister_Obvious

User ID: 247140
United States
10/25/2007 03:35 PM
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Re: American kids, dumber than dirt
I hate people that brag about their kids.
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 260371



I hate people.
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 317290
United States
10/25/2007 03:36 PM
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Re: American kids, dumber than dirt
I hate people that brag about their kids.

Who gives a fuck what you hate.


Are you a teacher of many decades experience in public schools, like Morford's friend?

If not, kindly STFU.

Just because you daughter is gifted and talented does not mean that all is well in the US school system.

Oh, and you're obviously an obnoxious asshole.
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 132975


Another opinion that I could give a fuck about. Good job on wasting your time, dipshit.
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 260371
United States
10/25/2007 03:36 PM
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Re: American kids, dumber than dirt
wow.

what a role model for the "gifted one"
Sireen
User ID: 316770
United States
10/25/2007 03:37 PM
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Re: American kids, dumber than dirt
If you look at how our military does so much via computers and robotics...everything controled by a control stick from a safety of an aircraft carrier hundreds of miles at sea, you can then understand the huge push on video games and war games.

We are inadvertantly creating future soldiers.

inadvertantly? i THINK NOT.
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 260371


Most parents don't see the connection yet support the habits none-the-less.
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 317290
United States
10/25/2007 03:37 PM
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Re: American kids, dumber than dirt
All that article proves is that guy is a shitty teacher. He should be so proud.
malu

User ID: 310945
United States
10/25/2007 03:37 PM
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Re: American kids, dumber than dirt
homeschoolers still kick ass! says something right there

that is tough to do when it takes two incomes to survive though,, by design
"By way of deception, thou shalt do war."

Israel's Mossad

"The truth shall set you free."

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency Motto
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 260371
United States
10/25/2007 03:37 PM
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Re: American kids, dumber than dirt
well...most applications will require these skills..not just military.
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 132975
United Kingdom
10/25/2007 03:38 PM
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Re: American kids, dumber than dirt
I hate people that brag about their kids.

Who gives a fuck what you hate.


Are you a teacher of many decades experience in public schools, like Morford's friend?

If not, kindly STFU.

Just because you daughter is gifted and talented does not mean that all is well in the US school system.

Oh, and you're obviously an obnoxious asshole.


Another opinion that I could give a fuck about. Good job on wasting your time, dipshit.
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 317290


I hope your "wonderfully talented daughter" doesn't read these threads, Pops.

lmaorofllol

You worthless cunt.
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 317290
United States
10/25/2007 03:38 PM
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Re: American kids, dumber than dirt
wow.

what a role model for the "gifted one"
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 260371


What? I can't respond to someone who calls me an asshole? Fuck off.
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 260371
United States
10/25/2007 03:39 PM
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Re: American kids, dumber than dirt
speaking of your daughter...how old is she?

is she hot?
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 317290
United States
10/25/2007 03:39 PM
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Re: American kids, dumber than dirt
I hate people that brag about their kids.

Who gives a fuck what you hate.


Are you a teacher of many decades experience in public schools, like Morford's friend?

If not, kindly STFU.

Just because you daughter is gifted and talented does not mean that all is well in the US school system.

Oh, and you're obviously an obnoxious asshole.


Another opinion that I could give a fuck about. Good job on wasting your time, dipshit.


I hope your "wonderfully talented daughter" doesn't read these threads, Pops.

lmaorofllol

You worthless cunt.
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 132975
At least she can read, you mindless douche nozzle.


iamwith
Anonymous Coward
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United Kingdom
10/25/2007 03:40 PM
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Re: American kids, dumber than dirt
So it would seem your child is the exception to the rule if her own age group are so far behind her.

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