Monday, September 30, 2013

Are We Dumbing Down Our Young People?

I believe that is a fair question. Everywhere we look we are seeing it happening. Young people do not seem to be learning like they did even ten years ago. Many believe it goes back even farther. Studies have shown an incredible decline in vocabulary, critical thinking skills, the ability to communicate, problem-solving skills and a host of other skills necessary to compete in the global economy of the twenty-first century.

I have written about this before and after watching this brief video by the late, great George Carlin, he makes some interesting points in the direction our educational system is going. Watch this short bit and see if you agree with him or not:

You may read my previous grammar post of March 7, 2013 by clicking here

He makes a compelling argument regarding what our children are learning, or in the greater sense, what they are not learning.

After reading several articles on the topic, being turned away from schools because they do not want to bring in an outside speaker that would take away time teachers have to prepare for the test, countless conversations with frustrated teachers when I do get in the schools and a host of other factors, No Child Left Behind is not working for schools all over the country.

One of the biggest problems No Child Left Behind has is it is given as a standardized test to fifth graders of every educational level. That means children whose primary language is not English, Special Education students on all levels, gifted and talented students; students with lower IQ's are all tested on the same test. There is no way many schools with very diverse populations can keep up with other schools that do not have a wide range of students.

Of course, there are other factors in why our children are not learning critical thinking skills, creative problem-solving processes and constantly lowering their vocabulary skills. Please do not get me wrong here, I am all for the digital age and learning with computers. What I have a problem with is the loss of the ability to communicate with one another in a one-on-one conversation, and do so intelligently without one or both of the people using improper grammar, today's modern acronyms, and not being able to formulate a proper complete sentence.

One of the things that bothers me the most is when I turn on the television to watch the news, SportsCenter, or watch a game of any kind, and have the broadcasters and announcers using improper grammar.

To me, listening to someone speak improperly is like scraping your fingernails on the blackboard. It is everywhere. I often find myself hitting the Mute button when watching a game of some sort and not having to listen to the broadcasters butcher the English language.

I try to be as well-informed as I possibly can in writing because I believe it is important to show I care about what I believe to be an important subject. I cannot tell you how many times my editor and I discussed certain language when we were writing my book. I constantly try to be vigilant in my language on this blog, every letter I write, every comment I make on a Facebook post and email I send.

I know sometimes I come off as being a Nazi Grammar Police, but I believe it is important for us not to forget an important skill. As you may know, I use a voice recognition software program to write this blog. It is called Dragon Dictate and is Macintosh's version of Windows' Dragon Naturally Speaking. I used that program to write my book when I had a MacBook Pro with the Parallel program that allowed me to use the Windows side of my computer. Now I have a Mac Mini and have Dragon Dictate as my program.

This is just a small portion of my problem with the educational system today. My little brother, Chad, taught in a year-round school in Southern California for seven years. He loved the students, but had problems with administration and some of the requirements that were heaped on him. They never went more than six weeks at a time without being in school. I believe that is the wave of the future. Year-round schooling makes sense to me if done properly.

It is been proven time and again students lose a lot of the knowledge they gained in the previous school year when they have a three-month summer vacation. I believe that should also change.

Those are just two suggestions. I have many more. I will save those for another post. Does anyone see any mistakes I made in this post?

As always, I look forward to your comments.




PJaye said...

Many school administrators like to tell us where we're AT! I prefer to know where we ARE.

Commercials - Jingles - TV character's sayings - T-Shirts - Songs - Not wanting to say NO to children, so not correcting them - Colloquialisms - SW MN... "will you borrow me a pencil"

Newscasters are the ones I'd like to see do it RIGHT.... I've heard more and more of them goof up now too.

Good luck with this Mike.

Mike Patrick said...

P Jaye, thank you for your quick response and comments. I don't know where you are, but your comment reads SW MN. I can only assume that means Southwestern Minnesota. Between this note and your blog post, I'd like to connect and see about having me visit your school one day.

I know about your quote, "Will you borrow me a pencil?"

One that bothers me all the time is, "Will you loan me some money?"

I could go on, but you get my point. I look forward to meeting you.

Thanks again,

Mike Patrick

Ann Wallace Lais said...

I started working in the Roseville School District since 2001 and I have seen a steady decline in basic learning skills. In many cases I see teachers spending more time doing the paperwork required by NCLB than teaching. NCLB has done more to harm our educational system then anything else in our history. I wrote a lot of papers on the subject when I was in school.