View Full Version : Dumbing down
12-01-2005, 07:35 PM
I fully expect American kids will have Chinese,or Indian bosses. In United States,in the next five years 65% of all science,and engineering teachers will retire because of age. We are not going to be able to match China,and India in these areas. We have 5% of the population,and they have 50%. Who will win the race to the top - do the math.
I firmly believe this is a direct result of too much government. With the government running the schools we are in trouble. While the math is insurmountable, how much does it really matter, these percentages have not changed in the last hundred years and they will probably continue to be the same for the next 100. In a capitalist society output is what matters. If you can do the work better, smarter, more efficient, higher quality, etc you win. So, the same applies to education. Continue to provide poor education (government indoctrination institutions otherwise know as public school) and your output is poorly trained, unskilled graduates.
12-02-2005, 11:03 AM
From a sheer numbers perspective, it would behoove us to breed more and be able to encourage and support larger populations. We've always struggled with the education system. I saw on the Discovery Channel that China is producing 5 (or was it 50?) times the number of engineers the US does. On the downside for China, they are going to have some huge problems to solve in the next 10 to 20 years (water supply, pollution, population) with the enormous growth they are experiencing. What a mess.
To some extent globalization is inevitable. As is the decline of the state. I think in 300 years, governments will be much different than they are now. Look how much different the idea of a state is now than it was in 1805 or 1705. Not just organization, but the transformations that happened from kingdoms to empires to states. Anyway, what it is going to take to compete in that world is what it has always taken - The consistent application of rational faculties to the task of living.
This is how progress has always been made, and with progress constantly accelerating, it will become more noticeable. Math, science, and engineering are symptoms of our willingness and ability to apply brain power to our situation. Americans IMO are becoming less willing to do this. People are afraid of discussing things rationally in politics - facts and truth are incidental to the "message". Fundamentalism in religion is on the rise. The response from the other side is a secular irrationalism loosely combining socialism, tribalism (A/K/A diversity/multiculturalism etc...) and irrational forms of environmentalism. Public schools are caught in a political fight and the only safe thing seems to be less and less hard content. Science offends the whacky right, grading a math test offends the self esteem people who see "other" forms of logic as OK, spelling is so constricting, having a class for smart kids might offend the 92 IQ crowd, etc.... So we end up with a mediocre education system that does not encourage the skill development it is going to take to compete in the next 100 years. And we have to prepare our kids to live for more than 100 years given the advances in medicine.
All education starts at home. We recently had a kid. I will do my best to prepare him prior to school. We will send him to public school, because I don't think homeschooling is the be all and end all of education and there is no secular private school where we live. but public school will only be a portion of his education I hope. It is a daunting task in some respects, but I see it as my job as a parent to educate my kid enough so that he can live in a rapidly changing, intelligence-and- ability-required type of world. The math will be tough for me, but hopefully there is some tutoring around for later. The kid will need math and science and history and language taught and integrated to provide a rational and logical outlook on the world and his place in it. Ideally he will have the education to let his particular talents, whatever they might be, come to the surface and flourish; letting him live where and how he chooses. That might mean being a biologist offshore because of US regulation, or a teacher in Europe, or a chef in Asia. Who knows, but it's a big world out there and it is changing. Our schools probably aren't doing enough, but then again, did they ever?
12-02-2005, 08:42 PM
Very nice post! The only thing I disagree with is the final point. I believe public schools at one time did a good job, back in the 50's and 60's. It was about mid-way through the 60's where they started to go down hill. In 1968. our school system started teaching "The New Math". That was the start of the break-away from old fashioned proven teaching methods. We used to teach times tables, now we give the kids electronic devices to do the math for them......what do they actually learn???? How to push buttons. We stopped teaching phonics, and now we have a generation of people who don't have a clue what "sounding out" a word means. Spelling? Well, if you are close, the teachers say it's ok. You might hurt a childs self image if you use red ink on his paper, so they are told they are doing good for trying, rather than that they are wrong. It wouldn't bother me at all to see public schools to move backward about 40 years and start providing an education again!
12-02-2005, 11:54 PM
Pooltchr, I totally agree. We need to go back to real math without the aid of calculators. Everyone needs to know addition, subtraction, the multiplication tables, division and percentages at the minimum. The students need to know phonics and be able to read fluently. Students need to be held back a grade if they have not grasped the fundamentals taught in a particular grade. The idea of hurting the students concept of self image is bogus and does not come close to the psychological damage caused to them by entering the job market and the "real" world unprepared for what they are going to encounter! Our kids have been cheated for decades. How does the U.S. compete in the world by having generations of illiterates?
"The only thing I disagree with is the final point. I believe public schools at one time did a good job, back in the 50's and 60's. It was about mid-way through the 60's where they started to go down hill."
I agree that in some respects schools were better then. But do not overlook the flaws. Schools in this country have a lot of inherent flaws given the prevailing educational philosophy that started before the '50's. There were also other problems that we cannot overlook, like the explicit racism that was sometimes used to deliberately make schools with minority students worse.
Here again tho, the problems in the schools of the 50's were more easily hidden or overcome. High school grads stood a better chance of making a decent life for themselves with only that level of education. So the students whom the schools failed might not have such a negative consequence. In the future, students without the necessary skills will be left behind more. I don't mean to use the languiage of the no child left behind program, but those left behind in the future will be further behind. Because they aren't just competing with people from their town or state, they have to compete for jobs against all the people from all the countries. Telemarketers in India, textile workers in Vietnam, auto workers in Mexico and Korea, etc....
12-03-2005, 10:09 AM
I have the benefit of working with Asian and Amercian workers for most of my adult life including in this country and in their home countries.
I am still amazed at the lack of quality I get from the majority of high school graduates in this country and the
surprising levelof knowledge we get from the majority of Universities from a technical standpoint. The Asians are still way ahead in fundamental science and math but I think most technical schools are doing a good job here.
What surprises me most is how little drive and ambition many here have. The work ethic is just not there in most. My company here is a little of an exception in that we are developing the employee's skills and even their attitude very successfully. However, I still get guys out of the box from Korea, for instance, who are already driven, educated and passionate.
I remember graduating from high school in 1970 and feeling I had a good foundation of knowledge and skills. It as least prepared me for university and work. I just don't remember so many slackers and "I don't really care" attitudes back then.
I think we are dumbed down a bit now as far as basic education and certainly in terms of being competitive. I hate to see the death of manufacturing in this country but with globalization a reality no matter what our leaders do, we will either learn to educate our people or continue downhill. I do think the touchy, feely, no child is ever challenged policy that has been going on for 40 years or more is much to blame.
That being said, there are a lot of talented and ambitious young people out there who may just be able to save us if the system doesn't further soften.
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