When you are a schoolboy, you do not necessarily stop and think about the education you are receiving in any structured way. Like you, my gentle suffering blog readers, I learned to think critically as a part of the process of learning. This is a most normal and natural thing.
I did not give it a thought that is until my Sophomore year in High School when I began tutoring. What stunned me in my experiences as a tutor was the discovery that most of my students were actually extremely bright and though obviously intellectually capable, they amazingly, had never learned how to think deductively. This was stunning because I never gave much thought to such matters. Stunning because the lack of these basic intellectual tools substantially impaired my student’s abilities to comprehend anything that required more thought than simple memorization. Suddenly it was brought into clear focus for me how poorly our schools were serving the majority of it’s students.
This whole experience jarred me in a profound way.
So, from a very early time in my life, it has seemed blindingly obvious to me that there is little in this world of greater importance than the proper education of our youth. It did not take any special insight then or now to see that a citizenry that does not possess even the most fundamental tools for critical thought dooms its nation to ultimate failure. How is a citizen who must exert themselves strenuously in order to make the simplest of deductions, if they are capable of even that much thought, to be expected to cast an intelligent vote? How can they be expected to hold any but the most menial of jobs? They obviously can not and the social ramifications of the resulting mass stupidity are of empire destroying proportions.
Sadly, very few Americans are concerned about the state of American stupidity. A bit of Googling unearthed an interesting summary of polling information about the priorities of voters that can be found here. What is clear both from my personal experience and this data is that though education may be on the list of the concerns of Americans, it is down there among the list of “other” things that people worry about in addition to the “big” problems.
Education is not a problem. Education is the problem.
It may in fact be reasonable to question my assertion that education is the most critical problem facing our society. Issues such as Global Terrorism and the Healthcare System meltdown have a rightful place at the center of our attention. But the present state of American stupidity is such that it exacerbates the pressing issues that typically top priority lists and therefore education assumes a position of greater significance than the politically minded might suggest.
A superficial examination of current events demonstrates the centrality of the role of stupidity in our current affairs. An America whose citizens reasoned well would have better understood the Middle Eastern powder keg and taken action long before the fuse was lit. If We The People were equipped by our schools to think critically, we would understand that not proactively fixing our healthcare system is inviting disaster. Eschewing substantive analysis, the people instead passionately respond to the sound bites that invoke symbols such as Patriotism and Socialism.
The undeniable passion of the people’s response can sometimes be so overwhelming that you can almost lose sight of the fact that there is no real content buttressing the convictions.
The political elite have learned to play this game well. A stupid America consistently elects politicians with no concern about any future which might exist past the next election. Politicians do not need to concern themselves with the Future because stupid Americans do not hold them accountable in a serious analytical sense of accountability. Rather, the political elite only need to concern themselves as to how effectively they can “spin” the outcomes when experience demonstrates their sweeping rhetorical flourishes to be nothing more than salesmanship.
That the word “spin” has become so much a part of our language that I could have properly omitted the quotation marks in the previous sentence speaks volumes regarding our intellectual devolution.
It is clear then that ranking education among the other issues confronting our society is dangerous and short sighted. While it is true that the incremental cost of additional stupidity is low, when you take the longer view there is nothing so certain to produce our downfall than a poorly educated electorate.
This process of destruction is in full swing already-just look around you. Or better yet, watch the upcoming Presidential debates. It will be sobering if you understand that the presentations, which are only nominally debates, are packaged for the level of education which is actually out there in our formerly great nation.
Once you understand the state of stupidity in our land, it is better for your mental health if you avoid the next step of logical deduction. Better to not realize how irrelevant you have become to our political process.
Far better to not grasp that swaying the stupid people is all that matters.