Every time I watch the Jaywalking segment on the Tonight Show I attempt to convince myself that Jay actually has to ask hundreds of people his simple questions to get the few truly stupid responses he airs – that there just aren’t that many dumb Americans.
Increasingly, however, it is becoming harder to make that argument to myself. My fears are starting to be corroborated by newspaper reporters and school teachers who are saying that America’s youth are getting stupider.
We are, as far as urban public education is concerned, essentially at rock bottom. We are now at a point where we are essentially churning out ignorant teens who are becoming ignorant adults and society as a whole will pay dearly, very soon, and if you think the hordes of easily terrified, mindless fundamentalist evangelical Christian lemmings have been bad for the soul of this country, just wait.
It’s gotten so bad that, as my friend nears retirement, he says he is very seriously considering moving out of the country so as to escape what he sees will be the surefire collapse of functioning American society in the next handful of years due to the absolutely irrefutable destruction, the shocking — and nearly hopeless — dumb-ification of the American brain. It is just that bad.
I want to think that today’s teenagers will merely “learn on the job” so to speak but I am not so certain. While my experience with Gen Y in the workplace is limited, it seems that some fears are well-founded. Initiative does not tend to be a strong trait while entitlement does. Couple these characteristics with a less learned mind and we could be in for some rocky times in the good ‘ol U.S. OF A. It is perhaps not an overstatement that it could be these internal forces rather than anything coming at us from the outside, that brings about our demise as the last of the superpowers.
But most of all, he simply observes his students, year to year, noting all the obvious evidence of teens’ decreasing abilities when confronted with even the most basic intellectual tasks, from understanding simple history to working through moderately complex ideas to even (in a couple recent examples that particularly distressed him) being able to define the words “agriculture,” or even “democracy.” Not a single student could do it.