Are American kids getting dumber by the year?

Discussion in 'Politics' started by jbtrader23, Nov 21, 2002.

  1. I read about this latest survey of young people polled on geography questions. It just astonished me. Dumbfounded might be a better word. 18-24 year olds were polled in this country and 11% of them couldn't find the US on a world map!!!! God help us all. 87% couldn't find Iraq, 49% couldn't find New York. What an embarrassment for the US educational system.

    You combine this with other evidence showing low international test scores, etc....and you begin to wonder, much longer can the US maintain such a dominant economy (say 20 years from now). These are the kids who will be taking over when the baby boomers retire.

    The clash between China and the US will only grow economically over the coming years. Here we have a declining work ethic, large amounts of debt, no savings, while its the opposite in China (very smart hard working workers, higher savings, etc).
  2. Astonishing ignorance.

    Here are a couple of more stats that I found particularly amusing:

    - only 25% of the Americans knew that the USA's population is
    between 150-350 million (the other answer options were 10-50, 500-750 and 1-2Bil !!)

    - and only 25% knew that China and India were the world's two most populous nations.

    (And just for reference, being in the survey age group and Australian educated, I scored 20/20 on the sample questions @

  3. As a Canadian, watching US television, I must say for years i noticed that US weather maps used to only have the states on Mexico, no looked like the US was an island...and when N. Am. maps finally emerged, we (Canada) were that pink area in the north with no label. :) Dont interpret that we all know our geography up here either. I live in the great lakes area, and some people go to the beach for years and cant tell what lake they just drove to, or cant believe that Michigan or Ohio is actually on the other side....I personally love maps and travel so im always astonished.

  4. Oh ya, I used to joke around that , "maybe we should surprise attack......they don't even know we're here!"

  5. DT-waw


    Sad facts. What % of Americans know that Earth moves around the Sun? Or how much is 4^3 ? :D
  6. dbphoenix


    Actually, it's always been this way. And, no, they won't be taking over. They'll be working in the stores and offices and repair shops and doing all the grunt work that the vast majority of people have always done. It takes surprisingly few leaders to propel us forward.

  7. it's always been this way as far as i can remember.

    with a country as isolated as the US, it's no surprise...

    how many people here can point to idaho on the map??
  8. tampa


    I don't know that it is so much a case of kids getting dumber, as it is a case of a society not interested in educating it's youth.

    Schools have been turned into job training facilities, not institutions of higher learning.

    The streets are full of "degreed" men and women, few of whom have ever been trained in critical thinking. The schools are filled with students taught how to pass tests - period.

    Perhaps that is why we have a leader who can't string two sentences together -- who's father once said that he wanted to be known as the "education President". I guess most folks forgot that little fact.
  9. vvv


    Why America Has The World's Dimmest Bright Kids

    By Chester E. Finn, Jr.

    The Wall Street Journal

    February 25, 1998

    Banish forever the consoling thought that, however mediocre the educational attainments of the average U.S. child, "our best students are still the best in the world." That's the way many in the school establishment have explained away a ton of evidence of meltdown in American primary and secondary schooling. But they've just lost their excuse. It turns out that U.S. high school seniors--including the best and brightest among them--are the worst in the industrial world in math and science. It also turns out that the U.S. is the only country where kids do worse the longer they stay in school.

    Today the U.S. Department of Education officially releases the damning data, which come from the Third International Mathematics and Science Study, a set of tests administered to half a million youngsters in 41 countries in 1995. But the results have trickled out. We learned that our fourth-graders do pretty well compared with the rest of the world, and our eighth-graders' performance is middling to poor. Today we learn that our 12th-graders occupy the international cellar. And that's not even counting the Asian lands like Singapore, Korea and Japan that trounced our kids in the younger grades. They chose not to participate in this study.

    Twenty-one countries took part in the 12th-grade tests of general knowledge of math and science; 16 took part in advanced math and physics. They comprise the industrialized Western world (Western Europe, Australia, Canada and New Zealand), plus Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Lithuania, Russia, Slovenia and South Africa. The general-knowledge tests were not ultrasophisticated: Questions were "designed to measure general knowledge and skills necessary for citizens in their daily life."

    A typical math problem looked like this: "Experts say that 25% of all serious bicycle accidents involve head injuries and that, of all head injuries, 80% are fatal. What percent of all serious bicycle accidents involve fatal head injuries?" The student had to choose between four possible answers. Only 57% of U.S. students got the right answer, vs. an international average of 64%. On general math knowledge, the U.S. placed 19th, surpassing only Cyprus and South Africa. In science, our high school seniors came in 16th, with Italy, Hungary and Lithuania also trailing.

    The results for advanced math and physics were even worse. In these categories the test-taking population was the cream of the crop. Just 14% of American seniors even qualified for the math test; they had to have taken (or be taking) precalculus or calculus. The U.S. came in second-worst, besting only Austria.

    Likewise, in physics, only 14% of American youngsters qualified. They came in dead last among 16 nations. Narrow the test-taking population further, down to the most advanced science students (in the U.S., those taking Advanced Placement physics), and performance improves a bit. Three nations trailed us. But, as the study's report explains, such students "represent a much smaller proportion of the age cohort in the United States than . . . in most of the other countries." (Barely 1% of all U.S. high school students take AP physics.)

    The public school establishment is already at work concocting excuses: They will blame parents, or leaky school roofs, or inadequately equipped labs or a shortage of "certified" teachers. They will demand more money and propose more programs. No doubt the Clinton administration will use these results to press for some of its pet projects.

    But the failings revealed by the Third International Mathematics and Science Study cannot be explained away by lack of resources or corrected by more of the same. The U.S. has been "reforming" its schools for the better part of two decades. We've tried a hundred different programs and a thousand gimmicks. We've poured countless billions of dollars into the schools. Yet it's now clearer than ever that none of these nostrums has worked--and a lot of them have made matters worse.

    The public school system as we know it has proved that it cannot fix itself. It is an ossified government monopoly that functions largely for the benefit of its employees and interest groups rather than that of children and taxpayers. American education needs a radical overhaul. For starters, control over education must be shifted into the hands of parents and true reformers--people who will insist on something altogether different rather than murmuring excuses for the catastrophe that surrounds us.

    Mr. Finn is a fellow at the Hudson Institute and a former
    assistant secretary of education.
  10. dbphoenix


    This is pretty much the same old same old.

    First, the U.S. has been reforming the schools since the thirties, in fact ever since compulsory education was first enacted.

    Second, the answer is not to shift control into the hands of parents and reformers. The parents aren't any better educated than the kids (this hasn't been going on for only five or ten years). And as for the reformers, just try getting them to agree on curriculum, much less methods of teaching.

    The problem with the schools is what it's always been: nobody can agree on just what it is they expect the schools to do. And if you don't know where you're going, you're sure to wind up someplace else.

    #10     Nov 21, 2002