dumbing of america

The culture of each nation is the most important heritage by all means. It is tightly connected not only with spiritual, but also with intellectual aspects of life by all means. Unfortunately modern world with its highly developed technological progress, commercialization of schools tends to making us forget how the cultural and rational background is precious for us. Nowadays Americans are in serious intellectual trouble — in danger of losing our hard-won cultural capital to a virulent mixture of anti-intellectualism, anti-rationalism and low expectations. It is notorious that gradually we forget how to educate in our children striving for not being culturally and mentally ignorant.

Truly speaking we have the situation when the whole world is open for us without any particular efforts: video, media, personal PC, Microsoft Xbox completely meet the needs of our curiosity and consciousness. Most teenagers and a large number of adults don’t bother themselves with reading (neither of classical, nor of modern literature), often this tendency can be met not only among poorly educated people, but also among those with university degrees; some of them conclude that they don’t want to know the location of an important country as well as to learn a foreign language. Denying that such things matter is nothing else but pure anti-rationalism, a syndrome particularly dangerous to our public institutions, health care and political situation.  No doubt, all this happens due to rise of personal computers, web surfing and video games.

All these facts inevitably lead to inability of people to make their own decisions, to stand their grounds.  People can’t rationally evaluate news in the world (which is of urgent need if we want to get information as it is and not as it is presented to our view), political situation in our country and abroad. Although there are certain alternative points of view about this topic I am convinced that American people are already in the process of “dumbing” and the only way out from it is to make the item on the change agenda the first one. Our children should be aware of every kind of consequences of poor education, anti-rationalism, and flourishing ignorance towards vitally important topics. They should be taught how to value our cultural and rational heritage, how to remember that technological progress may work against us.

Besides, the problem of adequate school system makes one more problem. There is a threat of Structural Educational Materials or simply SEMs which are free curricula produced by major corporations and directly distributed to the nation’s teachers, typically through the mail or at educational conferences. Such materials include colorful texts, entertaining videotapes, and detailed lesson plans, and help corporations to promote their products and market messages to a captive audience that can’t change the channel or click to a new website. This phenomenon appeared as soon as companies got to know that children had significant income, and could easily influence on parental spending. Since that time using children as a means of advertisement have become commonly met. It is up to us to decide whether it is right to teach our children to read through logo recognition-K-Mart, Pizza Hut, Jell-O, and Targe, to develop their artistic skills asking to design a McDonald’s restaurant and instruct them on how to apply to the company for a job.

The common known excuse for this phenomenon is under funding of schools, but in my opinion it sounds not persuasive enough. In reality he use of SEMs is bolstered by the under qualified teachers, who are often asked to step into difficult classroom situations to teach subjects for which they are inadequately trained. This shortage is particularly acute among math and science teachers and in poor school districts, a perfect setup for SEMs. Further, many young teachers themselves were educated in schools undergoing commercialization, perhaps making them more tolerant of SEMs than their older peers.

I am convinced that SeMs are inappropriate means of educating children who are just on the way of developing of their personal being. And what would they learn from classes on the importance of healthy hair (Revlon)? Stopping SEMs anyhow is not as easy as it may sound: as a matter of fact it is connected with huge sums of money and naturally corporations would hardly ever wish to lose their profit. There are several approaches to stop SEMs. The approach I would support is one which offers fully funding schools and this is the best way out as for me.

Nevertheless in case of using SEMs they should be screened for scientific accuracy and completeness, as well as educational relevance, just like textbooks.

The future of our nature is rather subtle by now. There is a vast amount of information which we should be ready to analyze and filter, and this is absolutely impossible unless we provide appropriate level of education to our children.

Cultural and rational backgrounds are not stable enough, so we should care about our children’s and our own consciousness in order to stop the process of “dumbing” of our nation. It is impossible to move forward without respect to your past history and culture, without thinking of the consequences of particular actions which are sure to affect the future.

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