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Wee R Stoopidz

After reading the “American Kids, Dumber Than Dirt� article, I found several problems with the author’s argument. From a conversation solely between him and his teacher friend, Mark Morford claims that “kids these days are overprotected and wussified and don't spend enough time outdoors and don't get any real exercise and therefore can't, say, identify basic plants, or handle a tool, or build, well, anything at all�. Morford makes the mistake by assuming that his readers all agree with him, and therefore provides little background to his claim. He goes on a ramble about the education system and its lack of direction, and believes the enhancement of technology is responsible for the supposed shortcomings of education in children. Teenagers are apathetic and will not aspire to anything, nor do they appreciate their opportunity to free education that our country graciously provides.

Being of this generation, I have witnessed the degradation of education in the school system. I graduated from Park Center Senior High in Brooklyn Park, which is notorious for its high turnover rates and lack of funding in education. My graduation class was over 60 percent minority students- about 30 percent black, 20 percent Asian, and 10 percent other. Park Center’s sister school, Maple Grove Senior High, is vastly disproportionate in their account for minority students. With a 90 percent white student population, the state of Minnesota has reduced the Osseo School District’s funding as a punishment for their draw-up of district boundary lines. With a reduction in school funding, Park Center would seem to have a much more poor education compared to other homogenous areas within Minnesota. However, I do not believe it is solely the school system’s fault for the failure rate in education, but has to do more with the families of children in the current school system.

I believe there are many factors that help children decide their beliefs in the value of education. For my high school, it seems that the ultimate goal was to educate students and only prepare them for a high school diploma. Only one year of math, science, and social studies was required in order to graduate from my school, which means that a student can get away with taking Integrated Math I, receive a D-, and still graduate. At my commencements, many of the parents were ecstatic that their child actually walked with the class!

I took several honors and ‘High Performance’ courses throughout high school. My classmates were the same from class to class; all white, middle class students from seemingly stable families. Sadly, I had little interaction with students that were not in my honors classes. The other kids, unfortunately, were mostly the minority students who took the most rudimentary classes in order to graduate. I feel that the educational system at my high school was a huge letdown for the overwhelming minority population. These kids, along with several underlying issues I’d assume, had little to aspire to in the scheme of education. Because of the increasing acceptance of the notion that “some kids just can’t learn like others�, as depicted in the ‘No Child Left Behind Act’, it encourages school officials to believe that kids are really just becoming more stupid over time.

I’d like to argue that children are not becoming more “stupid�, or any less intelligent than the generation that has instructed them. It would be difficult for a child to aspire to become something more than a janitor if their family is unsupportive, neglectful, and uncaring of their child’s education and dreams. Because of this, I feel that blaming our educational system is a scapegoat for parents who are not willing to spend time and teach their kids outside of school. I also believe that many of the basic skills I’ve acquired were not learned in a classroom. I am thankful that I have parents who were willing to read with me and teach me skills that any three year old should know how to do prior to kindergarten. It’s not that children are incapable of learning; it’s just a matter of how well-trained and supported they are by their loved ones. It does not take a genius to figure this out!

To summarize this article, I found a quote that reveals much of Morford’s argument:

"I see no hope for the future of our people if they are dependent on frivolous youth of today, for certainly all youth are reckless beyond words... When I was young, we were taught to be discreet and respectful of elders, but the present youth are exceedingly disrespectful and impatient of restraint" -Hesiod, 8th century BC

To me, it makes me feel better knowing that this claim has circulated since the beginning of time. It shows that many of us identify with the intelligence of our ancestors, and may also want us to believe that those from other countries are obviously much more intelligent than us.

Therefore, I should not be writing more of this. I’m gonna go watch some YouTube and melt my tainted mind some more.

Comments

Miranda,

After reading the article and reading your position in regards to what Morford said, I could not help but agree and for some reason laugh. What he says is completely true. While reading I found that his entire basis for his argument is completely absurd. Who cares what some teacher from Oakland thinks, he is just one guy? Furthermore, even though I agree with the idea that is behind the article I do not like how it was presented. This issue is entirely based upon opinion and it always will be unless scientific evidence can be displayed as to the decline of intelligence in our generation. The same thing goes for the debate of public education vs. private schooling. I understand that you went to public school and I think what you said about your school is completely appalling and a testament to some of the decline in today’s society. I myself attended private school my entire life, my high school had very high graduation requirements and quite frankly was harder than college in most senses of the word. I do not say this to seem better, I just feel I worked hard and am now benefiting from that. The public school system is lacking that is a fact, you spoke of cuts in funding that is a huge problem and concern not only locally at your school but statewide as well as nationwide. I like your outlook on the issue, however I stand firm to my opinion about public schools, they are lacking and I cannot see how anyone can argue that any public school is better than a private school. The school I went to was a College Preparatory, All Male, Catholic, Military School, it was hard. The academics were hard, and the opportunities were numerous. Not only did we have opportunities that we were able to take advantage of, but there were some things that we were just required to do. In the public school system you do not see that, sure there are opportunities for those who want them, but no one is forced to do anything. For example, a close friend of mine went to the local high school where for a semester his daily schedule consisted of four classes each 90mins longs respectively. He took Phy. Ed, study hall, a beginner math class, and shop; is that in any way shape of form stimulating? However, I will not generalize; this is just one case that I am citing. I am sure there are many others that are very similar purely based upon what you said in your statement. Overall, this issue is sensitive, there are many factors to consider and this is no for sure way that we the American public can be sure what is right.

Miranda,

I think you did a great job analyzing the article by Mark Morford; you gave your interpretation of the article in combination to your personal experience. I would have to agree with the point you made about society blaming the education system; I do think that the basics of learning and education start in the home. However, I do not believe the education system does not play a role in the lack of common sense in today’s youth.

Parents and family are the biggest reasons for the decline in the learning ability of students. I do not think parents and family are the only reason for the decline in learning ability, but if a child is neglected or forgotten about in the home, why should they try and do well with their studies? For one, I know my parents always kept me involved and tried to teach my things when I was younger. If they wouldn’t have taken the time to teach me things, I would fit the definition of the dumb generation as defined by Morford’s teacher friend. Maybe since my parents were not working in corporate America, maybe they had more time to spend with me. Many families are too busy to be involved with each other, and therefore do not realize what is going on with their child. If parents do not spend time with the child they will never know that there is anything wrong with the education system or the child’s learning ability.

I don’t mean to attack the education system by any means, but in my high school and community the education system was very lax. If parents were not involved with the school it was like a happy family between the faculties, they would do less and less in the classroom and begin to let the students slide through school. This did not benefit the student by any means and if anything just hurt the student later in life. I have heard many people say the “No Child Left Behind� program was one of the worst things that ever entered the education system. I am not sure if it is a bad program or not, either way I think that the entire issue of whether the youth is getting dumber starts with the family and the home. As TJ said, this is a very complex issue that has many opinions surrounding it; I don’t think that there is a clear answer or explanation to fix this growing concern either. For now, I guess as members of the University of Minnesota community we should consider ourselves the lucky exceptions that had parents that taught us to value our education and strive for excellence.

Andrew Otto
Response