Posted by: guinness222 | December 19, 2005

Dumbing down America

Recently as I stood outside my pub having a cigarette. I picked up one of those “free” tabloids designed for the tourists to take and was thumbing through it. I caught a page titled “Internet Gem of the Fortnight” and it caught my eye. The paper had reproduced an 8th grade test given in Salina Kansas as the final exam of the year in 1895! I began to look at the questions and had to go back and read the header again. This thing was like a grad school exam! And I’m not kidding! For example, “Give the epochs into which U.S. history is divided.”, or how about “What is meant by the following: alphabet, phonetic, orthography, etymology, and Syllabication?”, and if you think these are a piece of cake, “Name all the Republics of of Europe and give the Capitals of each”.
Ok boys and girls there are 45 questions like this and you have five hours to complete the test, remeber a passsing gfrade is required to graduate from the 8th grade! Ready begin, remember no calculators, no notes or crib sheets, and no talking during the test,…ready, begin!
So just how do you think one of today’s 8th graders would do? Or for that matter a graduate of one of our prestigious “pillars of higher learning”?
Remember this is 8th grade stuff, no wonder our parents and thier parents were so damn smart and gave us what we have today, but it begs the question with our “dumbed down” system today what the hell will this country look like in another 100 years. God knows we can see some of the early results now, business men (ooops! sorry, first mistake, I meant “business people”) who can not craft a regular intelligent writen communication without spelling mistakes, use of slang, or, God forbid, properly punctuated! Or people who can’t do something as simple as count change back to you but rely on what the computer tells them to give back to you. Or how about asking anyone today to name three countries in Africa, let alone their Capitals!
How did we let our country backslide (oops! another slang term) to this point! In a lot of respects it’s maddening, but moreover it’s just plain bitterly sad.
The bigger question is can we “fix” it? I think not because we’ve come too far down the road of permissiveness, politcal correctness, and sheer “feel good” logic. Are we doing our future children and leaders any good with this direction today?
Sure hope the pharmacist filling my perscription knows the difference between millimeters and all that stuff, or the doctor who has to operate on me knowing exactly where my spleen is, or the accountant who can glean the proper percentage of taxes I need to pay.
Sure is scary!


  1. I was a flight attendant for a major airline. During one flight to California, a sixteen year old boy asked me if anyone was in the lavatory. I told him to read the sign on the door. He looked at it, and back at me, and shrugged.

    He didn’t know what “vacant” meant. I felt like saying, “You know, like the space between your ears?”

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