Over the last ten years, there’s now doubt we’ve all got dumber – and by “we” I mean “all of us on average.” To put it as simply as I can, you and I just haven’t been sufficiently bright to raise the average that the newly minted dummies pouring out of schools and university are relentlessly bringing down.
We’re dumb all over. “18 per cent of New Zealanders had a Bachelor's degree in 2007, up from 9.2 per cent in 1997” says Deborah Hill-Cone, meaning “the proportion of people with degrees has doubled over the past 10 years. “During that time,” she says however, “I suspect we've actually got dumber.” I suspect she’s dead right. Universities and degree mills have sprung up like gorse across a Taranaki farm, but too few of their degrees mean a damn thing.
Hill-Cone’s gripe, “unfashionable in these days of righteous self-improvement, is that there are far too many students and far too many universities… and when you graduate these days you're getting a Degree Lite.” Bang on. Most students are dumber when they leave university than they are when they enter (and when they enter pitifully few are able even to do anything more than write their own name successfully). One glance at what now passes for university work is enough to see how unchallenging it is; and one conversation with a graduate will tell you that it’s not independent thinking that’s valued but regurgitation – and in most cases regurgitation of nonsense. (The Attorney General reckons, for example, that “too many lawyers practising at the bar are incompetent” and their university courses were “a joke.” The leaky homes saga tells you all you need to know about the quality of architect’s education. And just talk to a graduate from a New Zealand philosophy department and you’ll see the closest thing you’re going to see to a human being who’s been pithed.)
But we’re dumb all over, it’s not just here in EnZed. In the States they’re talking about the failure of socialist studies courses to deliver on their promise “to promote civic competence.” “A social studies education encourages and enables each student to acquire a core of basic knowledge…” So how’s that working for them? The Jay P. Greene Blog takes up the story [hat tip Powell History]:
“The Goldwater Institute gave a version of the United States Citizenship Test to Arizona high school students, only to learn that they were profoundly ignorant regarding American government, history and geography. Only 3.5% of Arizona public school students got six or more questions correct, the passing threshold for immigrants, [and] the passing rate for Oklahoma high school students was 2.8%. They somehow underperformed Arizona’s already abysmally pathetic performance.”
So despite indoctrination almost since birth (“Kindergarten through Grade 12”) these high school students
“wouldn’t do much worse if the pollster asked them questions in Sanskrit instead of English. The pollster would say ‘I am going to ask you some questions about American civics in Sanskrit. Answer as best you can. Question 1: संस्कृता वाक् संस्कृता वाक् संस्कृता वाक् संस्कृता वाक् ?’
“There is some small chance they would answer ‘George Washington’ after all.”
Now despite EnZed high school students generally being dumb as a bagful of rocks (and their university counterparts being twice as bad), I’m prepared to bet that EnZed students would do better than the Americans even in the American Citizenship Test (but maybe not in Sanskrit). And that NOT PC blog readers would do even better.
In fact, let’s see what the average result for self-selecting NOT PC blog readers is for the following ten questions. Answers are here (scroll down).
- What is the Supreme Law of the US?
- What do we call the first ten amendments to the Constitution?
- What are the two parts of the US Congress?
- How many justices are on the US Supreme Court?
- Who wrote the Declaration of Independence?
- What ocean is on the east coast of the United States?
- What are the two major political parties in the United States?
- A US Senator is elected for how many years?
- Who was the first President of the United States?
- Who is in charge of the executive branch?
To start you off I got ten. But then, I saw the answers first. :-)
UPDATE 1: And now for education that’s completely different! Friday night along with around 300 Montessori parents and teachers I attended neuropsychologist Steven Hughes’s “highly visual, rapid-paced and entertaining talk” in which he
“describes how Maria Montessori's brain-based approach to education provides an unparalleled foundation for the development of academic, social, and executive functions critical for advanced problem solving and lifetime success. He shows how Montessori education parallels what we now know about brain development and fosters the development of advanced cognitive functions, social cognition, and such higher-order competencies as empathy and leadership.”
In other words, Montessori education uniquely follows what the human brain needs as it develops. Don’t worry if you missed it: You can watch this talk and many others like it at Hughes’s website GoodAtDoingThings.Com.
Why does he call his website GoodAtDoingThings.Com? Simple: Because that’s the purpose of education, right? Mastery. As Ayn Rand says in The Fountainhead, “before you can do things for people, you must be the kind of man who can get things done. But to get things done, you must love the doing, not the secondary consequences.” Montessori education teaches how to get things done, and how to love doing it.
UPDATE 2: More from the same “How Dumb is Dumb” files comes news of Lincoln University students who attended a Nazi-themed drinking party over the weekend – students who, says an excuse-monger on their behalf, “were first years and may not know have known what the ‘holocaust was all about’.” As if knowledge of the Holocaust is only delivered in advanced history lectures. [Read 'Ignorant' students' Nazi shame.]
But ignorance like this should really be no surprise, should it, since any number of advanced history graduates themselves are happy to wear that murderer Che Guevara on their chest – and to relax at the Lenin Bar and the Havana cafe. And numerous qualified journalist types who rightly call Lincoln’s idiots “ignorant” are happy to join them there. Oh ignorance, thy name is ‘Graduate.’