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The Dumbest Generation 
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Heinlein Nexus
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Post The Dumbest Generation
You know all those stories about how modern kids are burdened down with homework and are all the smarter for their expertise with digital communication? All rubbish, according to this book. The author accuses proponents of such theories of selective bias. Exhibiting a bit of selectivity of his own, he nevertheless unloads a torrent of data in support of his thesis. It's as if Jim went on an extended rant and Bill was feeding him literary references and studies at full throttle.

The conclusion is predictably depressing and apocalyptic. It's also hard to argue with. The main targets of his withering barrage are the educators who turn on their own profession by proclaiming that the kids have it right all along and we should all tailor their education to suit their short attention spans. As if a dietician had said, "Hey, forget all that stuff about vitamins and fiber - we should listen to our kids, they want fried Twinkies and bacon burgers, that's what we should be giving them." His opposition is an old fashioned viewpoint; and it's a relief to hear someone who's mad as hell and isn't going to take any more BS.

Perhaps the most interesting thing is that he managed to come up with a good argument damning Wikipedia that we all missed. Jim, see page 153.

Sat Sep 19, 2009 8:41 pm
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Post Re: The Dumbest Generation
PeterScott wrote:
It's as if Jim went on an extended rant and Bill was feeding him literary references and studies at full throttle.

Now there's a terrifying image for you.

"Hier stehe ich. Ich kann nicht anders." - Luther
In the end, I found Heinlein is finite. Thus, finite analysis is needed.

Sat Sep 19, 2009 9:53 pm
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Post Re: The Dumbest Generation
Jim scares more easily than I do, apparently. ;P I'm going to have to read that book; it sounds as if I'll agree with quite a bit of it. (Probably not all of it, but I've yet to agree with all of what any author, including God, wrote.) <wry grin>

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Sat Sep 26, 2009 9:25 pm
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Post Re: The Dumbest Generation
OK, but I suppose that compared to those who read Latin, Greek, and three Romance languages by the age of ten, plus studied music, art, grammar, discourse and argument, and math, we seem pretty dim ourselves.

The slide downhill has been going on for a long time. Those of my classmates who went into Education (secondary) were B and C students. The A's went into business or to universities.

Mon Dec 28, 2009 4:09 pm
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Post Re: The Dumbest Generation
I cannot speak about this particular book, but....

I believe our two adult kids are proof that younger generations CAN learn and improve on the education of their parents (both Bob and Laura can solve differential equations) - that was not part of my coursework at the Conservatory or even in graduate school, though I still hope to remedy that eventually. They both have a good grasp of history and the movements that lead to social changes, and are more aware of the international and particularly Asian influences on America and the rest of the world. I think they see history as a planetary subject - something that was not really covered even in the days when Latin and Greek were a matter of course for any educated Westerner. Both of them have even protested for causes they believe in. I think they want to make a difference in the world.

But they were taught in the beginning to read by me. Reading in bed with a flashilight is apparently a genetic condition, as their younger siblings are also expert in that endeavor.

I hope that all the kids have to the tools to make a life for themselves that will allow them to be happy. I hope they have the tools to know the joy of leaving the planet a better place than they found it. Laura, ironically, has already done far more than her share of that, but that is another story.

But there is NO guarantee that the younger children will find that path, and in any case I don't expect ed majors to do any of this for them. There are some wonderful teachers out there. A lot of them leave because there is no recognition or appreciation of excellence in that field - the mediocre is exalted and there is no recognition to the kids or the teachers who excel. (Except on the football field, of course - gotta have your priorities. ) But some good teachers stay anyway. A lot go into private schools though they are not a panacea either.

So in the end we have to remember that we, as parents, have the ability to raise our children to overcome the drawbacks imposed on them by whatever school they end up attending, and to take advantage of whatever help those schools may be able to offer. Learning to tolerate idiots, if nothing else. Many schools have perhaps one or two really good teachers - they tend to LOVE the chance to teach a seriously interested student. One of our kids has had that experience as well.

And as parents WE are responsible for the earlier stages of our kids' educations. We need to teach them HOW to learn and to care about it. It is not easy and we do not always succeed (at least I don't). When they are at a point where we cannot prop them up anymore they need to know that they are able to learn what they need on their own, and to put in the effort required to do what is expected at the school, even if not all of the requirements make sense. It is preparation for the real world. And to the extent that they can, to enjoy and take advantage of every chance they get to learn something new.

Remember that those kids who were fluent in Greek and Latin were a tiny percentage of the population. We are trying to make college material out of absolutely everybody - and that is something that may not be a good idea any more than owning a home was a realistic goal for everyone.

Just my two cents worth having been through this with a LOT of kids....and if I offered any advice is it to teach them to read BEFORE they start Kindergarten.

And if you want REALLY depressing you shoud see what happens with the commercials that are spoon fed into these kids from birth - that is far scarier to me than even ed majors.


Mon Dec 28, 2009 11:56 pm
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Post Re: The Dumbest Generation
As a parent of three kids, all now technically adults, I can only advise parents to encourage their kids to learn and to help them, but please don't be disappointed if your kids do their best but still do not turn out to be Nobel laureates.

"Being right too soon is socially unacceptable." - Heinlein, Expanded Universe

Tue Dec 29, 2009 7:17 am
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Post Re: The Dumbest Generation
JackKelly wrote:
As a parent of three kids, all now technically adults, I can only advise parents to encourage their kids to learn and to help them, but please don't be disappointed if your kids do their best but still do not turn out to be Nobel laureates.

A sad example is given here:

Bill Higgins

Wed Dec 30, 2009 11:08 pm
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