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Melony

The Dumbest Generation

Ok, here is another American bashing America - you all have chastized me for that before.  But, has anyone read or heard of Mark Bauerlein's book that came out earlier this year called The Dumbest Generation?

I am reminded of Socrates's complaints about the ignorance of the youth in his age.  But since we are all sitting here typing into cyberspace, would you just give it a look and tell me what you think.  Dr. Bauerlein's web page is here:

http://www.dumbestgeneration.com/home.html


Please....I value your opinions.
TheRejectAmidHair

A grumpy old man having a good rant about kids these days ... I don’t need a book for that! I can do it perfectly well myself!
miranda

Hmmm.... he may deny it but it sounds like generational bashing to me.   Teenagers do tend to be self-obsessed, it's how they are at that age.  We were all the same.   But that doesn't make them stupid.  And surely, it's quite often as you get older that you get interested in classic literature, art and what not.  

I think this generation is no worse and no better than any other generation.
TheRejectAmidHair

Generational bashing ain’t what it used to be in my day…
Melony

A+ review, Himadri!  Very Happy

I do think you yourself made reference to your daughter's secondary school, which has received high marks despite the fact that the students have not read a complete novel.  Perhaps if we were completely truthful with ourselves, we might find that we didn't completely read one novel either at their age?

Seriously, though, as a teacher, technology does frighten me a bit.  The kids can't keep their hands off their cell phones, no matter what you do.  I asked one young man, an honor roll student, to put his cell phone up after the bell rang and he said, "OK, in a minute."  On the third time I had to raise my voice, which I hardly ever do.  Granted, he was reading and writing a text, but that's not the equivalent of reading literature or attempting to learn the craft of writing.
TheRejectAmidHair

Melony wrote:
I do think you yourself made reference to your daughter's secondary school, which has received high marks despite the fact that the students have not read a complete novel.  Perhaps if we were completely truthful with ourselves, we might find that we didn't completely read one novel either at their age?


Actually, I had actually read quite a few novels (and poems and short stories and non-fiction books) by that age. Some of the books I had read by that age were required reading from school.

And our daughter has read a fair amount as well (she is 13 now), but my gripe is that she has not been required to read anything from school. The stimulus has come solely from home.
Melony

Ok, I was trying to be kind to the younger set....I agree, I had actually read (and been required to read) several works by Huxley, Orwell, Shelley, Twain, Poe, the list is too long to recite.  If reading is passe, why are we here?  It's not just because we are old.  The literacy researchers tell us over and over again that an appreciation for reading can be instilled in a person.  If not a love of reading, then at least a desire to know literature and appreciate it, whether you read it or not.  I would never doubt that you have ameliorated the educational system by inculcating a love of reading in your child - how many parents like you would you say there are in the U.K.?  I could venture a guess about our percentage and it would not be high.
miranda

But is that any different from any other generation?  I think reading runs through families.  After all, it's normally parents that buy the child's first book.
Melony

You know, I think you are right.  I think what is different today, though, is the expectation that for all our affluence and technology, things would have improved with young people, but they haven't.  Physical conditions have improved, but the quality of education has not improved with it, nor the quality of the students we are producing.  In 1968 Marcuse and Marxists would blame it on the government, but governments have tried just about every way possible to ameliorate human ignorance.  I'm starting to just think it's a human thing.  Which would explain what you say, Miranda, that certain families love reading.
MikeAlx

As I understand it the problem is the 'box ticking' approach to education, with a centrally-controlled key curriculum and a focus on key skills (reading, writing, arithmetic) to the exclusion of all else. Hence the focus on reading and comprehending sentences, paragraphs, or short extracts, but not on appreciating the complex, multi-faceted splendour of a novel as a whole.
Melony

That's a good point, Mike.  I was just thinking the same thing this morning, that No Child Left Behind has mandated passing core tests at a certain level of knowledge, but how does a student get beyond the mandatory average set of skills tested?  Good point, Mike - thanks for bringing it up. We are thinking that it has contributed to our current lack of creativity in our students.  But that could be attributable to affleunce, too, couldn't it?  Necessity is the mother of invention and all that.
Melony

I meant to also say that I just returned from the book store with a new novel ironincally titled How to Buy a Love of Reading.  It is by a new author, Tanya Egan Gibson, and looks to be a totally great summer reading book.  Rich girl's parents think she is "intellectually impoverished" after she responds to an essay question at school that she has never read a novel she likes.  They hire a novelist to move in with them and write a book she will enjoy reading.  The author is Bree McEnroy, who has written a failed meta-novel about Odysseus's journey home through the Internet.  Eventually our heroine finds that stories we read and believe in have the power to destroy, or save, a person's life.

Ok, hoakie, but I want to find out what it is about and so far it has been delightful.  I also bought the children's novel A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle, which starts:

It was a dark and stormy night.


What's not to love about that!
Joe Mac

I was talking to a fellow the other day who is retiring from the education field after 39 years as a teach, school principal and superintendent of schools. He said the number of kids who take their studies seriously is about the same as it was when he started teaching. What's changed, he said, is that the ones who are disrespectful and defiant of authority have become even more so over the years. That's the trend he's noticed.
Melony

Yes, I have noticed that trend, too.  But, I can unqualifyedly (if that's a word) say that kids are not as well educated as they were when I started teaching 34 years ago.  They also won't stay in school - we have a 25 - 30% drop out rate.  We also have about 1/5 of our students in online school because they can't abide by the school rules.

I was just reading an article about your neck of the woods, Joe, and it quoted the founder of a school in Toronto as saying that she has noticed many young people today having difficulty with executive function of the brain that regulates problem solving and task completion.

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