Take No Prisoners

Five reasons American kids are stupid

Kavan recently did a great piece on why the world thinks we’re all idiots in the good ole’ US of A. One primary reason that he left out is that we are idiots. Our kids are stupid, and stupid kids grow up into stupid adults.

A study done by the U.S. Department of Education in 2002 showed a full 21 percent of teens were functionally illiterate. How is this possible in what a lot of patriots call the greatest nation on Earth? How does one of the superpowers of the world – seen as so integral to modern society – have a full 21 percent of teenagers who cannot perform beyond the most basic literary tasks?

Now, don’t misunderstand me. I don’t think American kids are somehow inherently dumber than kids in the rest of the world, but there are some very real problems in the way we educate our children, and it’s certainly not helping them grow up into productive, creative adults.

Here’s a few reasons why our kids are idiots:

5. Teachers are often woefully underprepared by education departments.

Departments of education should just be eradicated, period. They serve little useful purpose and distract future teachers from what really matters in teaching: that you know what the hell you’re talking about. Education departments are famous for teaching a bounty of pedagogical tools and teaching tricks to young educators… which is nothing but a distraction from content knowledge in their chosen field. If someone wants to teach science in high school, they should spend most of their time learning the actual field, rather than compromising their knowledge of science for their knowledge of teaching methods. Rather than having a field of education, and degrees in education, how about people get real degrees in the field they wish to teach and have classes on how to teach in that field? In other words, let the damn science department teach people how to teach science.

4. Schools waste too damn much time. Why do our children spend 7 hours a day in school – not counting whatever hours they spend on extracurricular activities that should be handled by sports clubs and youth groups? What the hell are they learning there – other than how to be unquestioning, loyal citizens, of course? Why the recess, the pep rallies, the lunch? I don’t know if you remember going to grade school, but I know I stopped listening after lunch, and I was a pretty good student. Seven hours a day is just too damn much for a child to keep their attention focused – nor should they have to. Kids learn more about the world from playing outside then from most teachers, anyway.

3. Teachers are terrified.

Imagine you’re the 24-year-old, 120-pound female teacher fresh out of college who has to face the rowdy pack of 250-pound guys in the classroom. Fear is something teachers have always had to face before, but now teachers aren’t just afraid of not doing a good job, or afraid of their students before they gain some authority and confidence. Now they’re afraid of parents. Now they’re afraid of what they can and can’t talk about. They’re afraid of the ACLU, and preachers, and even the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. Sometimes, I can get totally behind lawsuits filed against school districts because they are often justified, but sometimes people need to make the choice of which battles they should fight. It’s stupid if a school tells your kid he can’t have blue hair, sure. But seriously, get the fuck over it. Stop sueing school districts unless they actually violate someone’s liberties. Forcing a student to pray or treating minority students unfairly would be a good example. 

2. Religion.

It makes people stupid. Sorry, but early indoctrination into an organized religion often makes people unable to examine anything that goes against their religion with an open mind. Trouble is, the modern world goes against the concept of most religions. Important scientific theories, carbon dating, even postmodern views of how language works, all of these go against religion. The problem is that religions teach people not to question what they are taught by their religious leaders. Telling someone not to question anything they are taught is always a bad thing.

1. Critical thought is dead among American youth.

This ties in directly with reason #2, but there are a few other entities killing critical thought in American kids. The schools themselves are the primary reason our children cannot think critically about what they read and hear. What response do far too many teachers give when questioned? “Because I said so,” the same mentality parents often espouse to the detriment of their children. Unfortunately, this one is a vicious cycle. Critical thought is killed in future teachers when they go through the school system (and I include much of higher education in this) and thus, when they become teachers, they never learn to pass on some semblance of critical thought to their students.

The Answer

So how do we solve these problems? Easy. We stop the school day at noon, take all funding from education departments and make teachers actually learn the material they teach, stop sueing school districts, and become atheists. Don’t question it. Just do as I say, and I’ll give you a gold star.


  • Posted June 26, 2008 at 11:38 pm | Permalink

    Very interesting post. Were producing a nation of mindless fork and spoon operators. Two things spring to mind:

    Firstly A.S Neil’s book “Summerhill” about a free-thinking school in the UK that is run by it’s pupils and promotes free-thinking. Pupils come and go to classes as they please and create their own rules. Surprisingly it produces very well rounded, honest, and intelligent people.

    Also Ken Robinson’s TED talk about how we educate creativity out of our children’s lives.

    Google: “Summerhill Book” / “Ken Robinson TED”.

  • H
    Posted June 27, 2008 at 4:46 am | Permalink
  • Matt
    Posted July 3, 2008 at 1:59 am | Permalink

    Become Atheists? What do you believe in? I don’t know all the answers to life or religion.. but the thought of just not existing and dissapearing when you die has always scared me. What do you think the answer is?

  • ShitParticles
    Posted July 4, 2008 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    There’s no proof of an afterlife, there is however, proof of dying and rotting in the ground. That’s enough for me to not believe there’s something more.

  • Matt
    Posted July 4, 2008 at 6:13 pm | Permalink


    haha thats so true. I guess wishing something was there does not actually mean that it IS, in fact, there. It’s weird to think about.

  • Posted July 13, 2008 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

    After teaching at a large university for a year, I can honestly say that all of these things are true. I really did want to become a teacher or professor, but after that year, I think I’ll pass.

  • Rick
    Posted July 28, 2008 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    In all fairness, I’ve had some very good instructors (including college). In most of those cases the instructor openly admits to ignoring some of the guidelines. Unfortunately, good teachers are the exception and not the norm.

    I don’t think we necessarily want or need our science or math teachers to have a masters (or higher) degrees in their respective subjects. A teacher can be the smartest person in the world (book smart), but can he/she communicate that information to my kid in a way that will keep them interested. I’ve had some very smart instructors who couldn’t teach if their life depended on it. I don’t need a person that can regurgitate information from a book, especially when I have the book and I’m perfectly capable of reading it myself. The ideal situation would be if the instructor could/would bring some real life/job experience to the table.

    Our education system (IMO) doesn’t provide an opportunity for critical thinking. Every teacher has a certain amount of information they need to cover in a certain amount of time ( state/federal mandates). That doesn’t leave room for open debate/discussions, which could help cultivate critical thinking. Taking shit from a text book and writing it on the chalk board is not teaching. Might just as well home school them and save on school clothes, lunch money, busing cost…etc.

  • Me
    Posted June 13, 2010 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    Just look at dying in a first person point of view and think, will it all really just end for me when I die? I don’t think religion is true or necessarily that there is heaven/hell crap but from really thinking about the first person point of view with dying can really make it unbelievable to think there’s nothing, it will all end when I die. But of course I believe it is generally the parent’s problem that our youth is so half-brained because of laziness. Oh well we can see what happens in another 30-40 years and if our youth is really that stupid, then this country probably deserves to become another Mexico (no racism there, just comparisons to how there’s no middle class)

  • Menzerna
    Posted January 29, 2012 at 6:58 am | Permalink

    You left ONE thing: The QUALITY of the parents.

    Teachers can only do so much.
    Its the PARENTS who ultimately molds the kid’s thinking.
    When you hv low-quality parents who dont even know how to bring up kids the PROPER way…..pls dont blame the system.

    Its a continuous cycle
    Low-quality parents creates low-quality, silly kids….many of whom will think becoming a soldier is great (lol)…..and ultimately teach the same shit to their kids in the future.

    This is how America fucks itself.

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