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.
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.
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.