What’s being taught?

by fmhilton

I have just read an article that profoundly shocked me. Now, I know that I’m one of those ‘evil’ baby boomers who just happens to know all kinds of stuff, and is passably educated, but this article just blew my mind:

General Knowledge Norms: 2013 update

There are 14 questions that presumably an American college student who’s been through the system should be able to answer fairly easily.
I was able to do it-but when I saw another paragraph, I was stunned:

“The point is that in the 2012 research sample of 671 American college students, NOT A SINGLE STUDENT KNEW THE ANSWER TO ANY OF THE ABOVE QUESTIONS.

Here are some items that only one student out of 671 knew (for all I know, it might have been the same one student who got them all right): Camus wrote “The Stranger”; Marconi invented the wireless radio; Alexander the Great undid the Gordian knot; Nelson was the British admiral who won the Battle of Trafalgar; Hannibal was from Carthage; Kafka wrote “The Trial”.

How can this happen? Why are we paying such astronomical amounts for education, if this is the result? What are kids learning now? How to twitter better? How to get a date for the night out?

Whatever it is they’re learning, I’m in total agreement with the author:

Based on these results, I would recommend scrapping the entire system of public education in this country (and all the federal and state intrusions on private education), and starting all over. Remember — these are high school graduates who have matriculated at a four-year college, so they are the “best” products of our school systems. It was true in 1983 and it is true today:

The educational foundations of our society are presently being eroded by a rising tide of mediocrity that threatens our very future as a Nation and a people.

All I can say is he’s right, and we’re in big trouble. Perhaps we should put away all those tablet computers and laptop computers from the classrooms that are so terribly popular and replace them with actual books!

Like books on world history, geography, social studies, American and European literature, for starters.

But it won’t be easy to repair the damage that’s been done, because American education has been declining for the past 30 years, and we have lost at least one generation to mediocre education.