Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The dumbing down of America

I have actually had to teach a young man in his early twenties how to sweep...using a broom, ya know?

And when you buy something for $3.83...and you give the cashier $4.08...and they are dumbfounded, paralyzed, stupefied, bewildered, speechless...unless they have a cash register that they can enter $4.08 cash tendered...and then the superduperpooperscoopercomputer tells them that they owe me $0.25 in change...or as they say in the south "one round quarter".

I remember the days when any good carpenter could cut rafters or build stairs using a framing square, or a calculator. Now, a "carpenter" is someone who has a hammer and a nail bag - and that's about it. True craftsmen (in any trade) are few and far between.

Things like "common sense", "abstract thought", "initiative", "pride in work", "curiousity", "thirst for knowledge" seem to be lost in the past...figments of my imagination?

Uh-oh...am I being negative again?


Red shoes said...

I'm with you, Alex. I read an awe-inspiring and horrifying editorial recently on the fetishization of ignorance, and it called together the scattered thoughts I had on the matter. My mate's high school students ask if they have to take the test when they "know" they're going to fail anyway. People don't even want to try to learn...

studio wellspring said...

they aren't completely lost, dear one, just harder to find. i think deep down people do want to be part of things of value that they help to create with their own skill. but there's a huge counter-weight of "laziness/ speed is better than quality/ cheating is ok as long as you get what you want" mentality that is supported not only by our current administration but also by mass media. so that makes it very difficult to see the bright deeper-thinking side of people sometimes, but it is still there. it's just that some people need an extra push to value hard work, honest skill, and anaylitcal thinking in order to snap them outta the main-stream blahs. keep the torch-fires of such burning, mr.fabulous! it's a tough job but someone must do it. ;o)

Anonymous said...

The change-calculation-flabbergasted-look amuses me every time it happens :) ... Sometimes I'm sad when I witness that the expertise that I value vanishes b/c of whatever reasons ... Then I remember my grandparents talking about their youth, and how everything was cheaper and happier and better, and young people were soo lazy and spoiled and uncivilized ... and by that thought I typically have a big grin on my face because now I understand :)

tangobaby said...

To quote my favorite scientist:

"We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology."


“... the use of our intelligence quite properly gives us pleasure. In this respect the brain is like a muscle. When we think well, we feel good. Understanding is a kind of ecstasy.”

If we don't capture the imaginations of children at a very young age and instill in them that an education and a desire to learn is fun AND important, it will never come later. I used to be an adult literacy tutor and the man I worked with was a high-school graduate who could not read. At 32 years old, he had a difficult life filled with obstacles and learning was so much harder for him.

Education is where our focus should be, and the benefits would come from there. And Ms. Wellspring is right, the mass media is a horrible distraction. The crap we are bombarded with daily; it's like eating a box of donuts--it's food with no nutritional value.