RE: The Dumbing Down of America

Subject: RE: The Dumbing Down of America
From: Dan Emory <danemory -at- primenet -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 22 Jun 2001 11:33:33 -0700

At 11:37 AM 6/22/01 -0500, david -dot- locke -at- amd -dot- com wrote:

Dan, I don't know you. I just read what Andrew said yesterday with shock.
But, today you mischaracterized Salina, Kansas.

I lived there for year. It is not a small farm town. It is a distribution
hub, a county seat, and the retail mecca for all the other small towns
around there. They even have a mall now. They didn't when I lived there.
They do suffer from the loss of their downtown commerce as does every other
Midwestern town.
Of course, I was describing the place as it was in 1895.

A number of other posts on this thread argued that such a test would be
entirely different today. Of course, but that's not the point. It was the rigor and depth of
a test given to 14-year-old 8th graders in 1895 that differentiates it. The typical
US high school graduate today can't write a decent 150-word essay, can't spell,
can't parse a sentence, doesn't know the parts of speech, can't use a
dictionary properly, cannot work with fractions, much less algebraic equations,
has virtually no knowledge of geography, even the geography of the country
(s)he lives in, and is only marginally aware of world history, much less the
history of his/her own country.

I'm reading the new biography of John Adams. The literateness and breadth
of knowledge of people back then is amazing. Read the letters of Adams' wife,
Abigail, for instance. She never went to college, and I'm not even sure she
advanced much beyond elementary school, yet she writes with a style and
fervor that is awesome. The difference between then and now is that people
back then, even ordinary people, read voraciously. They read and re-read
their favorite books, gleaning every nuance of meaning from them.
That's how they learned about the world and their place in it.

A voracious reader, on his/her own, can successfully overcome lack of schooling,
and even the limits of his/her own intelligence. Literateness, and a voracious appetite
to learn through reading, is the fundamental prerequisite for acquiring knowledge.

If the Internet and the Web had become a worthy substitute for printed books, we should have seen
a noteworthy rise in literateness and self-taught knowledge in the past decade. A recent study showed
that 73% of US teen-agers are wired. See:
But we don't see such a rise, we see the opposite. The internet is teaching teen-agers
as well adults how to skim-read, not how to read in depth. The result has been an exponential
increase in the size of the non-literate caste. They don't read books.

That's what I meant by the dumbing down of America.
| Nullius in Verba |
Dan Emory, Dan Emory & Associates
FrameMaker/FrameMaker+SGML Document Design & Database Publishing
Voice/Fax: 949-722-8971 E-Mail: danemory -at- primenet -dot- com
177 Riverside Ave., STE F, #1151, Newport Beach, CA 92663
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RE: The Dumping Down of America: From: david . locke

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