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Are Americans Stupid, Or Do We Just Not Care?

Posted by on Jun 17, 2010

There was a strange story on CNN that analyzed President Obama’s speech to the nation on Tuesday night. However, this analysis was different than the norm. Instead of looking at the content or determining if it was effective or not, instead it concentrated on whether it was too “professorial” for most people to understand.

Once again, it’s the “dumbing down of America” conversation, and in truth there seems to be a lot of proof that it’s true in some fashion. Many of us have seen Jay Leno asking people on the street questions to things that should be obvious and heard the stupid answers that come from them. One time he interviewed recent college graduates and it was shocking to hear some of the answers they were giving.

You want to know how entrenched the idea is? Many of you know I’m a health care finance consultant. Well, one of the directives from Medicare is that any information we give to Medicare patients must be written at a 3rd grade level. That’s right, we have to try to find a way to write complicated stuff so an 8-year old can understand it. Trust me, that’s not easy to do, and hospitals get called on it all the time.

So, are we Americans dumb? Is our educational system failing us? The popular answer is “yes”. However, when you think about it, you’d have to say it’s not even close. What has happened is that people, including children, have locked onto what they believe is important to them, and on that specific thing they’re geniuses. Think back to your youth for a moment. How much do you remember from your history lessons? Then how many song lyrics do you remember from music you loved at the time?

Think about spelling. Man, do I see a lot of spelling mistakes everywhere. Even words people use all the time get spelled incorrectly. As a former employer, it used to amaze me that I’d get resumes where people would misspell the name of the school they went to; those immediately went into the trash.

Still, are we dumb? I’ll use myself as an example. I like to think I’m pretty smart. I know a lot about a lot of things. Yet, I have no concept of geography, which was highlighted again a couple of nights ago when our friend Ching Ya mentioned she lived in Malaysia, and I had absolutely no idea where it was. Then I looked it up on Google and I still wasn’t sure where it was; that’s a shame.

I also know nothing about cars except how to drive them and put gas in. I had a car years ago that I kept putting oil in, thinking it was leaking oil, only to learn that I’d been looking at something other than oil; I can’t even think of what it was at this juncture.

Why don’t I know these things? Because I don’t care. I can pay someone else to fix my car. I don’t see myself leaving the country any time soon (well, maybe a trip to the Canadian side of Niagara Falls again some day), so I have no interest in knowing where most countries are specifically, since I do have a general idea of where places are. Does this make me dumb or just uninterested? And if this is how I am, could most people be the same way?

I really don’t know; I’m just putting it out there. However, there’s a program called WebCEO that will analyze your website and give you a lot of information about it, and one time when I ran it against my main business website it said it was written at a high school level and that maybe I should change some of the language of the site. Frankly, I think telling someone that their content is too intelligent is an insult to others, and I’m not doing it.

Then again, I once wrote a song with the word “recalcitrant” in it, and my friend Scott said he wanted to hit me. I wonder if he remembers that. šŸ™‚ Anyway, what are your thoughts on the intellect of either Americans, or the people in whatever country you live in? I’m betting we’re not alone in believing that our populations are less intelligent than in the past.

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I think the education system may be failing a lot more people than just you Yanks. I know over here they’ve gone to such a level that they would rather pass someone who’s failed rather than fail them because they figure that would be too much for them to handle.

Not so long ago there was a big commotion in Queensland over using red pen to correct student’s paper, once again saying that seeing red all over their paper could hurt them psychologically.

Then there is sports where kids are not marked on performance, rather they just want them to have a good time. So there is no score keeping. How dumb is that. What’s going to happen when these kids hit the real world and get judged on their performance in sports and in the job market? Will they be able to handle the rejection?

I know of young guys who I’ve interviewed for a job that I’ve had to reject because they couldn’t do their math.

As to Jay Leno, they don’t show you all the ones that got the answers right, just the ones that got it so wrong that it made their point.
.-= SireĀ“s last blog ..Why Does Sex In Advertising Sell? =-.

June 17th, 2010 | 9:06 PM

Sire, I knew that about the Leno show; however, it’s my bet, based on people I meet all the time, that they probably didn’t have to exclude a bunch of people to get what they needed.

I have no kids, so maybe my ideas aren’t realistic, but I think there needs to be more challenging of kids and more rewards of some type to keep them motivated. I’ve used motivation as a management tactic that’s worked well, and I’m hard pressed to believe that the same type of thing wouldn’t work for kids.

June 17th, 2010 | 9:54 PM

The problem we have here is that they either reward all the kids or none of them because they’re scared of hurting the feelings of those who miss out. Morons.
.-= SireĀ“s last blog ..Important Link Love That You Should All Read =-.

June 18th, 2010 | 3:24 AM

Yeah, when did that start occurring Sire? Teachers cared, but not overly much back when we went to school, and yet we made it through okay.

June 18th, 2010 | 5:53 PM

There are teachers that care and those that do it because it’s just a job, those that are good and those that are not. The education department should be able to pick and choose but the union won’t let them.

The Government was wanting to have the schools give the kids an exam to gauge where they were at and to publish it on the net and the union bucked it like you wouldn’t believe threatening to go on strike and not administer the test. Reckon they were scared it would point out their bad members?

The gov
.-= SireĀ“s last blog ..The Importance Of Honesty In Blogging =-.

June 18th, 2010 | 6:32 PM

I wouldn’t support “outing” teachers like that either but the schools should be allowed to act on the information with bad teachers. Something that’s talked about all the time here is retesting teachers to make sure they know their stuff; I’m not sure if any communities have actually gone forward with it.

June 18th, 2010 | 10:05 PM

It doesn’t out the teachers so much as the schools and I would have thought that sort of thing would keep the schools on their toes.
.-= SireĀ“s last blog ..Do Women Give The Penis The Respect It Deserves? =-.

June 19th, 2010 | 1:45 AM

Ah, you meant post the school’s scores on the net; yes, I can see that, and agree with it. However, I must also say, based on my own history, that some schools, at least in this country, aren’t up to snuff because they’re in poor areas, and the students are more worried about surviving than they are in school. I went one whole year without homework at a school because the school knew they couldn’t send kids home with books; they’d never come back.

June 19th, 2010 | 2:00 AM

This reminds me of a debate I had with my son last week. He is in drama and wrote a monologue that his teacher felt was too in depth for the class. He thought that perhaps my son didn’t even understand it. My son explained to her that he understood what he was talking about as he planned to study it in university and felt she was being unfair. I explained to him that it was fair for the teacher to ask him to dumb it down for his audience and that it may be different if he was writing a term paper for say English.

Sometimes we have to keep it simple.
.-= RoseĀ“s last blog ..Sexting and Teens =-.

June 18th, 2010 | 12:57 AM

It’s a shame, Rose, but you’re right on that. I keep a lot of things simple on this blog, and I try to use language that’s easily understood on my business blog, but on my finance blog it is what it is most of the time. If I’m trying to educate it’s easier to make it simple than if I’m commenting on financial issues.

June 18th, 2010 | 5:52 PM

No Mitch, you are not dumb. I don’t know a great deal about the USA and I don’t think that I am dumb at all and I live in India! I don’t expect you to know as much about India as I do when most Indians don’t know as much either.

About Professorial vs Presidential aspect of the debate, it has been my experience in many parts of the world, that the media plays to the lowest common denominator – the viewers who enable it to get the rating to get increasing ad revenues. In my opinion your President did a great job in chastising BP. As an Indian, if ever BP were to announce that it was coming over to our shores to drill, I shall be in the forefront of protest marches against letting it do so.
.-= RummuserĀ“s last blog ..Chance Meeting And Memories. =-.

June 18th, 2010 | 6:57 AM

Good stuff Rummuser. I really do believe there are times when dumbing things down actually works out against us. When we look at the political process in the U.S., it’s really a series of soundbites rather than any real substance that either wins or loses elections. The 2000 election proved that, as well as the 2004 election. The most brilliant people aren’t governing across the board; they’re in technology, which is neat, but we could use more of them in medicine and other sciences as well.

June 18th, 2010 | 5:57 PM
Althea Garner:

Excellent topic, Mitch and 5 stars to those who commented – all valid points!

As an educator with over Ā¼ of a century in experience, I see this a LOT! Adult students who can’t read, can’t spell, can’t logic and don’t care about anything except the ONE THING at which they excel. In most cases, it’s the Internet (duh????) or sports. Of course they ALL think that they can run the country, but have no idea that Zimbabwe is a different country to South Africa (this is tantamount to someone suggesting that New York is in Canada!!)

I met my husband (of 11 years now) on-line. In my profile, I required applicants to have read at least one book in the last year! Bruce was the ONLY one who came close but it wasn’t books that he read – rather leases! People don’t read and that’s why they don’t increase their knowledge! That’s why they can’t spell and certainly that is why they are restricted to a vocabulary of an 8th grader!

Don’t get me wrong ~ Bruce is brilliant, but his brilliance is restricted to a] that to which he devotes most of his time, and b] that which interests him the most (sports).

Parents, in my opinion, are largely to blame for this, as they use the TV to entertain their kids and then, to get them out of their hair, they provide them with video games (in previous generations, it was comic books). There seems to be little, if any, restriction of TV and games and not enough encouragement to read books and play outdoors (vitamin A derived from the sun, is essential to our health!). It’s easier just to keep the peace!

Consequently, schools have a hard time breaking the habit of lack of learning skills and the addiction of looking at a screen (at school the TV or game screen is replaced by the cell phone screen).

When these kids, who have been allowed to pass at a lower level, get into the work force (IF they get into the work force), they experience a rude awakening, but even there, there has been a ‘dumbing down’ and consequently, the standards of service and skills to the consumer have been diluted to an almost non-existent level.

At the age of 58, I have never stopped studying and am currently preparing for not one, but TWO exams (in addition to working a full day)! Sure, I beg the Universe to relieve me of the constant study, but I know that it is the ONLY way that I am going to stay at the top of my industry!

If there is something that I hear about, that puzzles me, I use the Internet to research it – especially if it is outside the realm of my field.

Americans need to be challenged more and they need to experience accountability.

(BTW. as a kid, the greatest gift anyone could have given me, was a National Geographic magazine!)


June 18th, 2010 | 7:59 AM

Hi Althea,

As a kid, I could quote you any statistic you wanted to know from the four main sports in the U.S. and all statistics about the music of the day. I could also quote all kinds of statistics as they related to black history. But sciences and literature were way down on my list of things I cared about. I could learn it to pass a test, then I’d forget it and move on with my life.

These days, I’m an information junkie, which can be dangerous when I spread myself too thin. That’s why I let some things go that I feel won’t have any bearing on my life. Luckily, it doesn’t make me xenophobic, but a day like today, when I was at a car place trying to get something repaired because I had problems interpreting where something might have been based on the manual, it points out that a little more car knowledge wouldn’t be a bad thing.

I also blame parents, but some might not like my saying it because I’m not a parent, so I’m glad you said it as a parent. My parents only cared that I got good grades, but didn’t care about anything else at times, so I pulled away in some things and excelled in others. I would hope that I’d have been really encouraging and participatory in my child’s education; matter of fact, I’m reading a book now where the writer’s mother, who was worried about the grades of both her children, made them start reading two books a month and writing her a report on them. They hated it initially, then started loving books and reading way more than they had to, and gave up much of their TV and toys. It can happen; I was a library guy also.

By the way, talk about geography and even this country; do you know how many people think that all of New York state is going to be like NYC? My wife’s friend’s visited us in 2003 from Alabama and were shocked to see grass and trees. We took them to Niagara Falls and they were amazed, then my wife took them to NYC and it was more than they expected it would be. But they said the most fascinating thing they saw was some of our lakes, which, as you may or may not know, are prevalent in central New York.

June 18th, 2010 | 6:07 PM

I’m a parent. I never used the TV to entertain. In fact we have not had cable (satellite) TV for years.
.-= RoseĀ“s last blog ..Sexting and Teens =-.

June 18th, 2010 | 10:34 PM

That’s a very interesting question. And I think it’s also very important that your second question be considered, because I think it’s key. We’re not stupid. In fact, our brains are evolving. Those little kids who play video games all day? They’re actually very, very intelligent.

The point is that I/you/we all don’t care. We are certainly capable of speaking intelligently and spelling accurately and everything else. The problem is that we don’t care and we don’t have time to care and no one cares if we care.

I think the issue you bring up with the Obama speech is only moderately related to the one you bring up with Jay Leno. It’s subjective whether or not the speech was “too professorial” and the media needs something to say every day, so looks like that’s why they chose.

But getting a point blank question wrong (aka where is Malaysia or what is the capital of Maryland or what year was Reagan first inaugurated) is a lot less subjective. lol
.-= TiaĀ“s last blog ..Proud Sister =-.

June 18th, 2010 | 6:39 PM

That little kid who play video games all day may end up working for Sony. šŸ™‚
.-= RoseĀ“s last blog ..Sexting and Teens =-.

June 18th, 2010 | 10:38 PM

Hi Tia,

First, thanks for visiting; hope to see you often. Second, I think you’re right; even though there’s plenty of news, every once in awhile they get a weird idea and run with it. Still, it’s interesting to note that there are people on both sides of this issue about the overall intellect of our country and how we might have to reduce how we talk to each other to be understood. If we read some of the literature from the 1800’s and compare it to what we usually get today, there’s definitely a drastic decline in class and sesquipedalian architect. Yeah, I had to do that. lol

June 18th, 2010 | 11:11 PM

In regards to schools Mitch, in Australia they’re either government funded or private so either way it shouldn’t matter what area they are in.
.-= SireĀ“s last blog ..How Would You Like To Win An Apple iPad? =-.

June 19th, 2010 | 2:03 AM

Same here, but trust me, it does matter what area you’re in. Check this link out to see what I mean.

June 19th, 2010 | 2:35 AM

I’m surprised that sort of stuff still goes on Mitch, notice how I refrained from swearing?
.-= SireĀ“s last blog ..In Life And In Blogging Observation Is Important =-.

June 19th, 2010 | 2:57 AM

Yes; you must be bursting at the seams lol. Anyway, that kind of thing is actually becoming a movement; this community is the closest to enacting it at this point. See, the rich will always get their way at the expense of the poor.

June 19th, 2010 | 3:15 AM

That’s a damn shame Mitch and I can’t see how people can let that happen. You’d think the higher powers would step in and moderate the situation so that it’s dealt with fairly.
.-= SireĀ“s last blog ..Cool Blog Links Top 10 Coolest Blogs =-.

June 19th, 2010 | 3:24 AM

Actually, if it goes through there will be a major lawsuit because it will violate the 14th Amendment, as well as attempt to overturn the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision by the Supreme Court. It’s kind of like what’s going on in Arizona, which I’m not sure you’re familiar with, though I wrote about it on my business blog; they’re about to be sued by the Federal Government for passing a law that promotes racial profiling, no matter what they say, and now they’re trying to pass another law that also will go against the 14th Amendment regarding not giving citizenship to people born in this country because their parents might be illegal aliens.

June 19th, 2010 | 3:30 AM

Just goes to show it doesn’t matter how advance we get there’s always a bunch of moron trying to drag us back to the dark ages.
.-= SireĀ“s last blog ..How Would You Like To Win An Apple iPad? =-.

June 19th, 2010 | 3:41 AM

Definitely, and invariably it’s a fight to keep the status quo, even though things are always changing.

June 19th, 2010 | 11:04 AM

I’ve often complained that we (as a society) are getting dumber. Go to a supermarket and try to find a magazine that isn’t about Hollywood celebrities, soap operas, or bodybuilding. Look at what we watch on television or at the movies. Consider who we reward with huge salaries and hero-worship. Listen to our conversations.

But are we really becoming less intelligent and lazier? Or are we channeling our intelligence in a different direction? Maybe it’s what Tia said: Our priorities are changing, and we’re getting smarter at other things. I read a lot and love to learn. I consider myself a person who values education very highly. But if the average college graduate from a hundred years ago were to look in on my life, he or she would probably be shocked that I don’t speak Latin or Greek, and that I can’t recite Shakespeare in my sleep (or even awake). That person would likely consider me to be uneducated, at least to some degree.

I think we’re going through great changes in a short period of time. Those of us who are old enough can see the fork in the road for what it is, and we’re the ones who are concerned. I rant every day about my son’s teachers — how so many of them can’t write a coherent sentence, or handle creative thinking, or encourage debate. And their students will become the next generation of teachers! Isn’t it all spiraling downward? But as Reagan said to both Carter and Mondale, there I go again. I’m judging the present by the standards of the past. Maybe I’m just afraid of the future.
.-= Charles GulottaĀ“s last blog ..Unsolved Mystery: Drug Commercials =-.

June 19th, 2010 | 7:13 AM

Charles, I think we’re all afraid of the future, and we see things in today’s youth that scares us because, on the surface, they seem incapable of putting a proper sentence together, or even adding a couple of numbers together. I was stunned when I learned that in some places cash registers not only don’t have numbers, but they have pictures rather than words. Also, you read my post about the tribute last Sunday. At a bowling alley, the automatic scoring machines were down, and almost no one remembered how to calculate bowling scores on their own; well, no one under 45 did anyway, and that’s a shame.

June 19th, 2010 | 11:03 AM

Natural selection. Nature at work. What happens when you remove difficulty and provide reward without requiring effort? Apathy.

Our society is all about fast, chaep, easy consumption. Get it easy, get it fast, get it now and throw it away. Then get something else.

Our basic nature is to survive. We are geared towards keeping ourselves alive and avoiding threat. A subset of this gearing is conservation of energy which = requiring less to survive.

So, if we can get what we need without having to educate ourselves ao perform the work that once was required, the ability to perform atrophies, the knowledge stagnates. It’s the succeeding generation that shows the true effects as they are the ones born into the new paradigm and accept it as the norm.

In a nutshell, people are getting dumber, because they don’t need to be smart. Wer’e going in the wrong direction. It should never be about making things easier. It should be about making them better, more efficient, more effective.
.-= Paul NovakĀ“s last blog ..ComLuv Contest Entry Is Live! Itā€™s Alive!!! =-.

June 21st, 2010 | 11:31 AM

Hi Paul,

It’s an amazing thing to consider overall. You say in general people are getting dumber, yet look at some of the technological and medical advances we have today. Look at what’s on the way as far as robotics and nanotechnology. In your opinion, is there a growing gap between the “super smart” and the “dumb”, so to speak?

Personally, I think the country is moving towards specialists, people who now one thing that they’ll be able to make money from because someone else has no idea what to do about that same thing. Since all those jobs that have gone to other countries aren’t coming back, it might not be such a bad thing.

June 21st, 2010 | 12:01 PM

Well Mitch, it’s not a linear process. There will be highs and lows, and I think you’re on the right track when you suggest a gap between those with knowledge and ambitions and those without.

Technology grows exponentially, and it is only a very very small subset of society that is responsible for that growth. In technology, and the the development of the sciences, increases in knowledge tend to lead to even more increases and at a faster rate. It’s why it took us less than a century to go from hot air balloons to walking on the moon.

I suspect though that if you were to somehow set up a study and create definded groups based on the level of accomplishment and “REAL” knowledge,(real knowledge being demonstrable ability not completed grade levels) I have little doubt you would find that wherever you find progress and achievement, you’d find the motivated and intelligent, and in the other the group the er, uhhh, not so much.

I worry because things like this can lead to serious disparity among classes and irrational perceptions of others. It’s because of class disparity and the less accomplished percieving the successful as somehow elitist or unfair that we have so many problems today.

Consider the unskilled who cross our borders illegally and forget about all the philosophical or partisan arguments. They come here unskilled and unequipped to operate in a society that in all reality is built on a totally different set of standards than what they are accustomed to. Yet they expect to have all the same things, all the same opportunities, all the same rights as natural born citizens who are acclimated and adjusted to operate within this society.

So what happens? How do they percieve the legal citizen, and how do they respond to their own lack of accomplishment?

By demanding they be accomodated just because they are here.

I have a ton more I could say on the matter but I imagine I’ve set enough eyes to rolling as it is. šŸ™‚
.-= Paul NovakĀ“s last blog ..Monetizing Your Website or Blog- No BS Truth =-.

June 26th, 2010 | 9:17 PM

Hi Paul; welcome to the discussion.

I agree with part of what you’ve said and disagree with another part. I agree on the potential of more separation between those perceived as elitist and those perceived as less than intelligent. I would add that it mirrors the perceptions between rich and poor, where many people assume rich people are intelligent and poor people are not, and it’s been proven that’s only perception and not close to reality. Based on psychological models, intellect has no bearing on motivation at all; it is what it is. What motivation drives is potential, as someone with average intelligence can rise above and succeed better than someone whose intellect has been proven through testing.

Where I disagree is the motivation and beliefs of illegal aliens. I disagree because I tend to not believe they come to this country and believe any such thing as their being afforded all the things that the citizens of this country get. I believe they come for the opportunity to make money, plain and simple, something they can’t, for some reason, do at home. I believe it’s people in the U.S. who decide that illegal immigrants should be offered the protections that all other citizens get. Either way, I don’t believe it’s indicative of their intellect, just their education; I tend to try never to equate the two, because underestimating anyone will get you in trouble in some fashion later down the line.

June 27th, 2010 | 12:11 AM
Althea Garner:

Paul, you hit the nail on the head and it doesn’t just apply to ‘school’. One can say that welfare enables people not to work and that unemployment benefits simply encourage the unemployed to remain that way, until benefits run out.

We are seeing this in the real estate world, too: Instead of offering fair market value for a property, buyers are only willing to pay what that property would fetch if it were in distress! This attitude is devaluing every home in the country, regardless of whether it is for sale or not!

Because some developers and mortgage companies offered to pay closing costs, to stay in business, it has become the ‘norm’ now, for buyers to ask: “Are they paying closing costs?”, irrespective of whether the property is distressed or not.

The more we give, be it in education or otherwise, the more we will be expected to give in the future and the less everything is worth (perceived to be worth), across the board!


June 21st, 2010 | 11:43 AM

Thanks Althea. I do think however that it is not so much a result of a handout or liberal state as it is a result of our unnaturally being conditioned to think that things are SUPPOSED to be easy.

We are natural achievers. Nature has designed us to learn and to work to survive. Our adoption of a value based system of barter has disrupted this natural character and it is beginning to suffer a a result. Like they say, use it or lose it.
.-= Paul NovakĀ“s last blog ..Monetizing Your Website or Blog- No BS Truth =-.

June 26th, 2010 | 9:24 PM

I think some of it may be the fault of the funding of the schools. The teachers are underpaid, so I’m sure many are disgruntled and couldn’t give two shakes about who does well in their class and who doesn’t. The schools aren’t funded as well, so they lack current resources, materials, books, access to technology, etc. The students figure they’re learning more from TV and the internet, so they don’t care about school. And realistically, aside from teaching kids how to learn, they are not really teaching real world skills. Even at a college level – a marketing graduate can’t do a job that requires basic real world marketing skills. All that is taught is memorization and theory, but not how to apply anything in a way that is actually useful.
.-= KristiĀ“s last blog ..Strengthen Your Article Marketing With CommentLuv Links =-.

June 23rd, 2010 | 12:47 AM

I’ve always said that myself, Kristi, about colleges and the like not teaching any of us how to survive in the real world. I really do believe the book Rich Dad Poor Dad should be required learning by every high school senior. Then again, if they can’t read it… lol

June 23rd, 2010 | 1:34 AM
Althea Garner:

@Kristi: I have taught at some of the school districts – teaching the teachers and the admin staff/management and I can tell you that there is NO shortage of money for technology, fancy offices or equipment. The admin folks (I am not talking about teachers) drive fancy cars, take fancy vacations and seem to have lots of time off!

THAT’S where the funds are going! Sadly, The teachers and students are at the end of the food chain!

While I believe that children need to be treated with respect, our laws have taken it too far… to the point where children have too much clout and too much freedom and this has led to a sense of complacency between student and teacher.

There is little respect from kids nowadays and they are being raised with a attitude of entitlement – “I’ve done the work, now where’s my reward?” Problem is that now they don’t even want to do the work! Seems as though kids today, want the reward (graduation) for simply showing up at school – work (study) seems to be optional.

June 23rd, 2010 | 7:01 AM
Althea Garner:

Kristi and Mitch: You are correct: Exams – irrespective of the age of the student – has nothing to do with the real world.

At the age of 58, I am currently studying for an exam, the material for which has nothing to do with what I need to do my job! I need to pass with 70% of knowledge about subject matter that I will never use!

What is the point?

In my case (real estate), it creates jobs for the teachers, testers and course writers and it creates HUGE revenue for the schools (@ $300 upwards per course + $175 per prep class) and gigantic revenue for the government (@ $300 per license).

For $87, I have to get my fingerprints taken and fingerprinting has to be done for every exam! What the H*LL does the FBI DO with all my fingerprints?

In California, I must do this every four years and in Florida, every two years! Do the math!

It’s all about money and nothing to do with education!

In real estate, as with so many industries, the REAL learning starts when you pass the exam!

June 23rd, 2010 | 7:12 AM

We also have to face the truth that you’re quite the driven person, Althea! lol

And maybe that’s the issue across the board. Maybe if there was a way to get people more enthusiastic about learning it would help turn the corner. I sit here amazed that people died for the rights to education and these days many people seem to care less about any of it. That’s a major generalization, but it seems to be true. I was one of those people who never wanted to graduate from either high school or college because I knew that learning in that fashion would be pretty much over and it was time for real world stuff. And I never felt prepared to move into the real world; that was a major shame.

June 23rd, 2010 | 7:49 AM

Interesting post you have here, Mitch. I don’t know that Americans are any more stupid than anyone else on this planet. Here in the UK there is a lot of dumbing down, too, which I loathe.

“How much do you remember from your history lessons? Then how many song lyrics do you remember from music you loved at the time?” This applies to me too – and it’s very true, there’s a lot I was (apparently) taught in school (when I was there, as I was away ill a lot) that I remember much less than the pop lyrics of the time and many other things. And that is almost certainly the fault of the teachers being uninspiring and the syllabus being too narrow.

I’ve known Americans who have astonished me with ignorance about things that the rest of the world seems to know – for instance, ignorance about Native Americans still being in existence (and many reservations suffering severe poverty that rival many in the third world), and about the pogroms in Eastern Europe being persecution of Jews rather than – as this person thought – some sort of carnival!

That so-called analysis of Barack Obama’s speech is just ridiculous. Don’t let anyone concentrate on the actual content of his words, just knock him for how people who don’t really care to educate themselves when their teachers and schools have failed, might not understand what he’s saying.

I have read his autobiography and hope soon to read another of his books, ‘The Audacity of Hope’ and I did find some of his language a bit hard going. I’m not a university-educated person but I do come from a family in which at least one parent was an intellectual and I’ve a fairly good grasp of what I read (even though occasionally my own words come out a bit garbled) and I was very impressed with the way he put (and still puts) his points across. He’s a very unusual man, in my opinion. He is able to think things through and isn’t afraid to put them into action – or to at least try. That’s more than can be said for most politicians of any party and any country. (If I had been American rather than British, I would have been one of the people voting him into his Presidential seat).
.-= ValĀ“s last blog ..Motherpearl =-.

June 23rd, 2010 | 8:41 AM

Val, I’ve had few books that have taken me down mentally. One was a book by William F. Buckley, Jr, where I only made it through 5 pages, learned a bunch of new words and phrases, but realized it might take a year or two to get through it. I’ve actually had some friends say this blog is too deep, and I’ve always thought this was my conversational blog. Yeah, at times I might want to make people think, but is thinking really all that hard to do?

And, as a point of comparison with your experience, when I was going to school most people only knew one thing about black history; slavery. Me, being the radical I was, would mention all these other people, trying to show that there was more to black history than that. It didn’t get through, and I was known as the “militant”. Sometimes you just can’t break people from their comfort level.

June 23rd, 2010 | 9:26 AM

“Is thinking all that hard to do?” Mmm, for many people, yes it is. Part of it is probably built into ones brain, part of it is almost certainly genetic and some of it will be cultural. I was brought up in a home in which discussion and being made to think for oneself were important and were encouraged, so I’ve had it all my life. I remember sitting in on the regular ‘friday night’ open-house get togethers that my parents used to have for all their friends to drop in and see them, when I was just four years old, and actually being able to understand what was being said – though I didn’t have the vocabulary then to join in! (I think I was what, here in the UK at least, is referred to as ‘precocious’.) Maybe you’ve the same sort of brain? But not everyone has and I think it’s important to realise that it’s why people really don’t understand. But that is not a reason for things to be dumbed down because if that’s done too much then those people it’s aimed at will never learn any higher than that, because they’ve not got any examples from which to learn.

Yeah, I can understand your school experience and their understanding of black history having been of slavery only. Isn’t it astonishing how narrow people’s focus is? They home in on just one thing and that’s the only thing that stays in their mind. As though one thing alone will sum up a whole individual or a whole culture or nation.

It’s probably more than just breaking people from their comfort level, it’s trying to find a way in to their limited worlds in the first place. How to do that, I certainly don’t know.
.-= ValĀ“s last blog ..Motherpearl =-.

June 23rd, 2010 | 11:53 AM
Althea Garner:

And as you might recall, Mitch, I couldn’t get enough of your Black History Month when you ran it on Ryze! I was sad that it was only a month and not a year, because we have so much to learn other than slavery!


June 23rd, 2010 | 10:39 AM

I do recall that, Althea. I also recall you were the only one who enjoyed them. lol

June 23rd, 2010 | 4:53 PM
Althea Garner:

Well, you always said that I was unique!!!!! LOL! Just throw anything pertaining to history at me and it becomes a research project! I HAVE to KNOW, and won’t sleep till I do! šŸ™‚

June 23rd, 2010 | 5:09 PM