Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Dumbing Down Of America

Last Sunday I was watching the Vikings game, feeling pretty good at halftime with a 20-0 lead when a commercial came on advertising the show Glee. The teacher asked the question, "Name the Capital of Ohio."

Whereupon the stereotypical blond girl wearing a cheerleading outfit quickly raisers her hand and answers, "O."

They then show a male student give her a look that asks, "What color is the sky in your world?"

The thing that bothers me is not she did not answer, "Columbus." The thing that bothers me is the fact they picked that particular part to advertise their show. I have been annoyed for many years by the way many of us speak and our horrible use of grammar.

One day I was in a middle school classroom and a boy said, "Me and him were going to the store."

I stopped him and asked, "Who?"

He quickly replied, "Me and him."

So I asked again, "Who?"

He said again, "Me and him."

Whereupon his buddy quickly stated, "No, it's him and me."

That is just one example of how we have forgotten basic grammar. We have not only used verbs like lie and lay or can and may incorrectly, but we are not able to form proper sentences any more.

For years I have been listening to people and wondering why this is happening. When I ask someone why they do not use proper grammar, adults tell me it is just not important. When I ask students, many reply with something like, "I'm not in English class now."

My response to that is then, "So if you are not in Math class and you buy a bottle of water at a store with a dollar bill, and the water is seventy-five cents, but the clerk only gives you a dime change, that's okay?"

When he or she says "No, that's not okay."

I come back with, "Why not, you're not in Math class now? Why is it okay to remember and use Math but not English?"

The problem is not limited to this particular commercial. Listen to newscasters on TV, radio personalities, watch TV shows or other commercials. I would think journalists would learn how to speak properly somewhere in school.

I believe the rest of us need to check ourselves when we speak or write something and remember what we learned in that grammar class back in the day. I am not going to ask you to become the Grammar Police, but I become one on occasion. If you start to listen to yourself speak, I believe you will start to feel better about being part of the solution instead of part of the dumbing down of America. If you have children, definitely correct them and get them headed in the right direction.

I did a little research and Googled Dumbing down when several clairvoyant listings came up and I had not even finished my queue yet. So, I clicked on Dumbing Down of America. It was an incredible list!

I did not need to go far. I clicked on the first listing and got more information than I could possibly use. The book titled the deliberate dumbing down of america came up right away and is an incredible source of information about the history of what is, and has been going on for a long time!

Charlotte Thomson Iserbyt was working in the Department of Education during the early years of the Reagan Administration and saw what was beginning to happen. The bottom line is: she blew the whistle and like many whistleblowers, was summarily relieved of her duties. Her book is out of print now, but you can get it for free in pdf format by clicking here.

I realize this is a very long post, and appreciate it if you have read this far. I want to leave you with this quote and put the ball in your court.

The human brain should be used for processing, not storage.
Thomas A. Kelly, Ph.D.
The Effective School Report

As always, I look forward to your comments.



1 comment:

R. Zajicek said...

"The book claims that changes gradually brought into the American public education system attempt to eliminate the influences of a child's parents (religion, morals, national patriotism), and mold the child into a member of the proletariat in preparation for a socialist-collectivist world of the future"
One individual's claim. I thought some of the better reviews were the negative ones. Someone else wrote "Black-and-white thinking absolutism plays well with extremists. ...But that doesn't mean it is factual or balanced. It is a remarkable demonstration of slanting the evidence, however."

I skimmed the book. America may well be dumbing down (I strongly suspect this is true), but do we honestly believe that secular humanism is a culprit? Socialism is a culprit? Thinking for the welfare of the group...? Multiculturalism is a culprit? It smacked of conservative conspiracy thinking: stringing together disparate quotations out of context from a broad variety of sources and having the reader connect those dots without any modifying influence to "prove" the conspiracy. But I'm pretty dumb myself. What do I know?