The Dumbing of America – Part 1
Please see the original poem Dumbing of America by Vickie Kayuk which will be published on April 12, 2013 at “Where Do I Go From Here?” as part of the NaPoWriMo Challenge.
This is a true story.
My brother’s daughter was having trouble in math and my brother is an engineer with excellent math skills so he offered to read the problem and help her figure it out. After reading it four times it still made no sense to him. He called the teacher, a person he went to school with and respected, and asked what kind of math his daughter was being taught, since the question didn’t seem to have anything to do with math.
The teacher informed my brother that it was the ‘new math’ and that he had argued with administration that it was not really math. He felt his class needed to learn traditional math, possibly with an option to take this intuitive math later on. Admin told him that this was the curriculum and he had to stick to it; standard education regardless of needs of individual classes or students. He tried to point out that this math was not helpful to the students and was asked, pointedly, if he valued his job.
“Well, what is this math good for?” my brother asked. “Will it help her figure out how much paint she needs for one room if she puts on two coats? Will it help her balance her bank account? Can she calculate the amount of fabric she needs to make new seat covers for her dining room chairs?”
“No,” the teacher responded. “As far as I can tell it’s not really good for anything. I only teach it because it’s part of the mandatory curriculum and I have no choice. I would rather spend more time teaching them valuable information or formulas, but I’m not allowed to do it.”
My brother thanked him and hung up, but he is a thinking man so after a few minutes he turned to my niece and asked, “So….What can you tell me about Hitler?”
“Hitler? What’s that?” my niece asked. My niece was in 11th grade at the time.
As you can well imagine, my brother is not a happy man. He was slapped in the face with knowledge of the deliberate dumbing down of America. Anyone who does much reading on the internet knows it’s going on. You see it everywhere. And it’s not the fault of the people who are typing up blog entries with 25% of the words misspelled, improper sentence structure, a shortage of vocabulary, etc.
It isn’t even the fault of the education system. A system that can suck kids in at one end and spit them out at the other, after 12 years, without enough education to get a job or get into college. A system that no longer tries to teach, but gives students an A for the day just for showing up. A system that hands out bumper stickers to parents who proudly display the ‘My Child Is An ‘A’ Student’ sign for all to see when they know their 9th grader can’t even read street signs. A large percentage of them don’t even speak English good enough for 50% of the rest of the country to understand them–and I’m not talking about foreigners, I’m talking about children born in this country.
It is the fault of the parents. Are we so blind, busy, uncaring, lazy, uneducated or just plain stupid that we are willing to accept bumper stickers rather than demanding a good education for our children? Or are we just so complacent in our trust that the school system that is run, not by teachers and principals, but by politicians and government agencies, has the best interests of our children at heart?
What do you think? I would love to hear your comments and stories.
A great advertisement for home schooling. Failure to teach cursive writing is just one symptom of dumb-down disease. I would bet that the politicians who have their children in private schools get a better education.
I would bet the same. 😮
This is exactly why 14 years ago I removed my grandson from public school and began homeschooling him.
I totally understand. I have other friends who homeschooled their children until they were old enough to decide they wanted to go to public school for the social value it could offer them. By that time they were in high school where they could get into special programs. It was in Canada and worked well for them.
Stumbled into this web site by chance but I’m certain glad I clicked on that link. You actually answered all the queries I’ve been dying to answer for some time now. Will actually arrive back for far more of this. Thank you so much
Thanks for your comment. I’m happy you enjoyed the posting.
Hey, Vickie, where’s part 2??????
interesting piece, its the same where I live (UK), they just introduced proposals to make exams and curriculums harder and everyone thinks its awful. Yet still I am recurrently faced with people who can not tell the difference between their, there or where were, or your you’re!! I despair for humanity.
Hi Nina! Thanks for dropping in and taking the time to read this. I don’t know about the UK, but here the dumbing of American kids is deliberate. I believe part of the problem is that the people chosen to head the education committees and not educated themselves and have no background in education. They jump in thinking to save the poor little embarassed dummies like themselves who didn’t get good grades and dumb down the tests to the point that they can answer the questions. This happens with each new Chair of the Education Committee and now we have boring classes and mind-bogglingly stupid tests. I feel another rant coming on….maybe, thanks to your comment, I’ll finally be able to write Part 2.
please do write part 2 I’d love to read it!
I fear it’s the same here. People in power with no experience in the office they are heading. Some schools don’t even give out prizes at sports days in case they offend children who don’t win! Surely we should be teaching our children what life is really like not smothering them in cotton wool. A small part of me also wonders if the dumbing down is part of a more sinister reason, but I’ll maybe leave that for part 2!!
It’s even worse here. If you ATTEND class you get an ‘A’ for the day. EVERY student gets a sticker for the car that says ‘My Child Is the BEST in the Class’, and the kids who actually win at sports are made to feel guilty. The kids are being taught to be losers, and to be proud of it, in elementary school.
Loving this blog!
Thanks. I really need to sit down and write part 2. It’s the same mentality of parents who tell the child that comments on the homes in the nicer neighborhoods that ‘people who have a lot of money and live in those big house are not happy’. Why the hell aren’t they? Is there something wrong with having enough money to do the things you want to do without having to spend 2/3 of your life in a windowless cubicle. Come on people! Get real! Wouldn’t you like your life a little better if you could just decide to drive over and spend the day at the beach on the spur of the moment…without having to beg for the time off from the boss 6 weeks in advance? If parents could only hear what they say and see what it does to the inside of their children. Maybe I should make this into my next rant…..
Haha would love to read that rant : ). Sometimes I don’t understand exactly why people say or believe some things. I have always thought differently then some people in my town and family. I do believe that my parents raised me right however. I live in a very small and VERY rich village. And people laugh when I say village but that is what we are called! We are a very small community and in town there is a part where the rich live, the poor live, and then where I live, the middle class people. I don’t know, we work hard in my family. My parents used to have a cleaning business, they had to sell it a few years ago, but I have known really good times and times with less then enough. I however feel that I can honestly say there are sad people in every situation in life. No matter what status or money situation. So you are right just because someone has money does not mean they are sad. Just because someone doesn’t have money does not mean they aren’t happy.
I’ve worked in both private and public schools. The charter school I was at years ago was great (Montessori). In the public school system I felt like a glorified babysitter. I am currently at a private school, and what a difference!
A few years ago I was a reading tutor for the FCAT (Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test). Using logic, the test questions had more than one answer at times, but it’s made so that there is only one correct answer. There were many mistakes throughout the booklet. It was infuriating to know that the state of FL pays millions for this awful test that the teachers have to arrange their curriculum around.
When my daughter was in high school, she could not pass the FCAT no matter how hard she tried. If you don’t pass, you don’t graduate. (But the exception is if you can pass the ACT or SAT for college entrance, you can graduate.) She passed the ACT just fine. Something is seriously wrong with that system.
Thanks for the comment Shannon!
I remember those tests and how, even 45 years ago, they were somewhat dumb. I really don’t know how teachers can do what they do. How can you teach when the publications you teach from are so poorly composed and filled with deliberate lies, when children have more authority than teachers, and when anyone can go online and find out the answer (right or wrong) to any question in a matter of minutes?
For a while I believed the propaganda and thought our school system was the best in the world. Then I learned, bit by bit, that many of the things–especially in American History–that I had been taught were not true and many truths were never told.
Yes, something is seriously wrong with the system when you have to un-learn what you’re taught in school to keep from being ignorant.
This is what’s going on in my hometown right now. Another reason I am glad to be out of the public school system:
I tried the link and it doesn’t work. Can you check it and repost?
Shaking my Head. I remember back in the early 60’s that We are being taught a ‘New Math’ that my dad, also an engineer just went ballistic about “What is wrong with real math” .
I am not sure but I believe the schools may have abandoned it after a couple of years in the private schools. I do know that I came out of the Public school system knowing some history, math and being able to read.
One of My current pet peeves is I don’t believe school systems teach ANYTHING about Real Life Skills. Money education is non existent, and knowing how to read a legal document that you are about to sign for that car loan or mortgage, or apartment lease, and understanding how interest can eat you up ( or pay you back) is what every child in America really need to know, and know well.
Just my 2 cents worth.. Glad I found your Blog. I will return “-)
I completely agree. In fact, I was recently discussing this same issue with a friend. I don’t know why Real Life Finances isn’t a required class for every student from 4th grade through graduation. How to manage a bank account, how interest works for you, how interest works against you. What is compound interest? How do credit card companies get rich? What is a contract? How does a contract work? What have you REALLY paid for your house after 30 years? And many other everyday finance questions should be covered in the course.
My former wife and I took Sascha out of public school in the second grade after she responded to an order to pick up her room with rolling eyes and a “whatever” remark. That’s it, you not going to school where you are in contact with uncontrolled kids who talk back to their parents.
Since my wife was Dutch and totally embraced her new life in America, she enjoyed the home schooling workload over the years as she was learning as well. Beside, Sascha was now free to travel with us in our travel industry work. I worked and helped where I could, especially explaining occasional questions that translated poorly.
So to make the ten year story short, when Sascha become an 11th grader she got a scholarship to Daytona Beach State and after two years graduated with an AA degree – two weeks before graduating from high school! She is now in here third year working toward her doctor of pediatrics! I could not be prouder!
Thanks for your comment Richard.
That’s a great example of how the schools are actually slowing kids down rather than preparing them for the future. They’re even teaching them that they don’t have to work for their grades, they just have to show up. This is a great lesson for future employment and life in general.
“Just show up and get a reward!” doesn’t work well in real life.
Kudos to you and your wife for taking matters into your own hands and making a difference in Sasha’s future.