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Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Sad State of Education 0106-2

Here's an update/addendum via Hugh: College grads' literacy shows 'appalling' drop Test finds many cannot interpret tables, food labels
While more Americans are graduating from college, and more than ever are applying for admission, far fewer are leaving higher education with the skills needed to comprehend routine data, such as reading a table about the relationship between blood pressure and physical activity, according to the federal study conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics.
I have a pdf of an article (well, book excerpt) that expands on this theme. I need to review that and see about posting it, too, I imagine. But seriously, is this any surprise? Anyone who has been a voracious reader for 30, 40 or 50 years can certainly tell after a brief conversation or exchange of e-s or a few comments on a blogpost that recent crops of college grads (and from my experience, it doesn't much matter where they graduated from) are extremely poorly read, and indeed largely lack certain qualities that widely-read people seem to almost universally possess. Among those possessions are a cultural liteeracy that transcends the pablum available through popular media; a sparpened ability to think logically; and a written vocabulary that reflects a.) an actual understanding of the meanings of words rthey use and b.) orthography that demonstrates they have read, not just heard the words they are using. This morning My Favorite Librarian related to me some tragi-comic typos, word misuses and serious syntactical problems creating amphibolous meanings of whole passages... in a book about research into ways to improve reading. heh Might I suggest one way would be to write books that spelled words correctly, used words properly and had good, logical syntax? Oh. That was the theme of one of the SECTIONS of this book! When subliterates are writing books on how to improve reading skills, then we are all in for a bumpy ride... {EDIT/ADDENDUM} From Pournelle, again:
...one wonders if the champions of political correctness don't send their kids to private schools or teach them to read at an early age themselves, so that by ruining the public schools they can keep the lower classes who can't afford private schools in their places? If the system were designed to solidify class boundaries, ruining the public schools by preventing the teaching of reading would be the first step to take. Since this is the result produced, I wonder again if it is not intended. How can so many educated people be so stupid? How can they ignore all evidence that their imbecile meddling is producing disasters? Are those in charge of education fools, or are they evil? Those are the only alternatives I come up with. Political correctness is not a game with inconsequential implications, it is a monstrous system for keeping the minorities down, solidifying class lines, and generally seeing that the worst stay on top.
Ditching a trip to the principal's office for the Tuesday Specials at Jo's Cafe