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I can see the validity behind Jim's hypothesis and I would add a caveat to
it. Although the percentage of literate has grown in America, it has grown
for three reasons. First, there are more Americans than there were years ago
who live in urban areas, which have more schools, and therefore more
opportunity to complete basic educational needs such as reading and writing.
Second, there are far fewer Americans who drop out of school in the 5th
through 8th grade as previously was the case because they had to work to
help out on the farm/ranch/grove or to help provide family income.
Finally, the difficulty of the "standard" reading levels has been diluted
based on the ideas of social promotion and no child is should have to lose.
For example, when I graduated high school in the early 1960s, Moby Dick was
required reading at the 9th or 10th grade level. Today, it is a hard read
for many college juniors due to the level of the language and the number of
Yes, I believe that Americans are more literate than a generation or two
ago, but I do not believe that Americans are better educated, more
knowledgeable, or more erudite than before. In fact, I think that quite the
opposite has taken place. But that is just my own perception.
David B. Dubin, PHR
Senior Curriculum Developer
727-579-1111 x 3356
david -dot- dubin -at- sage -dot- com
Your business in mind.
From: jim guarino [mailto:jag9330 -at- earthlink -dot- net]
Sent: Tuesday, February 07, 2006 4:29 PM
To: Gene Kim-Eng; Dubin,David; Collin T
Cc: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Subject: Re: Formality is going bye-bye?
Here's a hypothesis. Feel free to tear it up, re-construct it, dismiss it. I
think that America is more literate than ever before, but it is also more
intellectually lazy than ever before. The % of population that is
sub-literate may be shrinking, but the % that acts as if it were
sub-literate is increasing. It's a lot easier to watch and read tabloids
than it is to take on a challenging topic.
>From: Gene Kim-Eng <techwr -at- genek -dot- com>
>Sent: Feb 7, 2006 1:08 PM
>To: "Dubin, David" <David -dot- Dubin -at- sage -dot- com>, Collin T <tutivillus -at- gmail -dot- com>
>Cc: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
>Subject: Re: Formality is going bye-bye?
>If you look at various forms of "communication" over the decades
>and centuries, "formality" has traditionally been one of the dividers
>between the educated elite and the "unwashed multitudes." Just
>scan any of the yellow press or scandal rag newspapers of the
>late past to the supermarket tabloids of today you'll see that the
>only thing that has changed over time is that the barely literate
>have gained access to increasingly sophisticated means of
>receiving pablum. Ten years ago, most net users were college
>educated or members of households headed by someone who
>was. Today the average net user is a lot less educated, but
>it's not because society as a whole is, but because the user base
>is broader. As dumb as you may think American society is
>today, reading scores over time demonstrate that as a society
>America has never been any smarter than it is now.
>----- Original Message -----
>From: "Dubin, David" <David -dot- Dubin -at- sage -dot- com>
>To: "Collin T" <tutivillus -at- gmail -dot- com>
>Cc: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
>Sent: Tuesday, February 07, 2006 9:20 AM
>Subject: RE: Formality is going bye-bye?
>Here is one man's (very jaded) opinion. (Bringing out soap box)
>It seems to me that there is a "dumbing down" of communications at every
>level of American society.
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