Dumbing Down

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
– Albert Einstein

For a fair selection everyone has to take the same exam: please climb that tree.

“There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.'”
– Isaac Asimov

“In 100 years we have gone from teaching Latin and Greek in high school to teaching Remedial English in college.”
– Joseph Sobran

“If you educate a man, you educate one person. If you educate a woman, you educate a nation”

“Prior to the late 1800’s, education was a private practice that took place in private institutions or through home schooling,” i, ii writes the Collective Evolution website.1

Jim Keith notes in Mass Control: Engineering Human Consciousness:

Since the advent of “progressive education” schools have not been intended to educate, but simply to regiment.… Public schooling…does not challenge children to learn or to think creatively, but instead indoctrinates them to conform to their prison-like surroundings.2, iii, iv

You don't want to be left behind?

“Schools as we know them today are a product of history, not of research into how children learn,” writes Peter Gray for the Salon.com website:

The blueprint still used for today’s schools was developed during the Protestant Reformation, when schools were created to teach children to read the Bible, to believe scripture without questioning it, and to obey authority figures without questioning them. The early founders of schools were quite clear about this in their writings. The idea that schools might be places for nurturing critical thought, creativity, self-initiative or ability to learn on one’s own – the kinds of skills most needed for success in today’s economy – was the furthest thing from their minds. To them, willfulness was sinfulness, to be drilled or beaten out of children, not encouraged.3, v

“From an early age, we are forced into a mandatory school system that requires and encourages youth to attend for a large portion of their human life, for six hours a day,” continues Collective Evolution. “Kids who do not fit into the system and do not resonate with it are usually labeled and medicated.” 4

It's so we dont have to give up our freedom. art by MattBors.com

The American Dream website exposes numerous examples of heavy-handed treatment, writing:

In the classrooms of America today, if you burp in class, if you spray yourself with perfume or if you doodle on your desk, there is a chance that you will be arrested by the police and hauled out of your school in handcuffs. Unfortunately, we live in a country where paranoia has become standard operating procedure. The American people have become convinced that the only way that we can all be “safe” is for this country to be run like a militarized totalitarian police state. So our public schools are run like prisons and our public school students are treated like prisoners. The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world by far, and our schools are preparing the next generation to either “do time” in the prison system or to live as good little slaves in the Big Brother prison grid that is being constructed all around us. But what our schools are not doing is giving these children the critical thinking skills that they need to live as free citizens in a nation that used to be “the land of the free and the home of the brave”.5, vi

“Modern secular education is failing…because it has no moral, social, or intellectual center,” notes Neil Postman in Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology:

There is no set of ideas or attitudes that permeates all parts of the curriculum. the curriculum is not, in fact, a “course of study” at all but a meaningless hodgepodge of subjects. It does not even put forward a clear vision of what constitutes an educated person, unless it is a person who possesses “skills.” 6

Our "educators are given the critical and challenging task of creating learning experiences that truly support each child and their holistic development," promotes Turnaround for Children:

The Whole-Child Design Blueprint encourages all classrooms, schools and systems to:

  1. Start with a shared purpose and commitment to holistic development and equitable outcomes for all students that drives improvement goals and priorities.
  2. Co-create a supportive school and classroom environment that is physically, emotionally, and identity safe, while creating a strong sense of community and belonging.
  3. Shift to developmental relationships – among teachers, students, leaders, and community – as the foundation.
  4. Set students up for success by facilitating rich learning experiences that integrate knowledge, skill and mindset development.
  5. Engage in transformational change together through shared leadership and ownership.7

Some school children “compete against a kitchen timer during lessons to see how long they can sustain good behavior — raising hands, disagreeing respectfully and looking one another in the eye — without losing time to insults or side conversations,” writes Kate Zernike for The New York Times:

Schools began emphasizing social-emotional learning around 2011, after an analysis of 213 school-based programs teaching such skills found that they improved academic achievement by 11 percentile points. A book extolling efforts to teach social-emotional skills in schools such as the KIPP charter network and Horace Mann in New York, “How Children Succeed” by Paul Tough, appeared the next year.

Argument still rages about whether schools can or should emphasize these skills. Critics say the approach risks blaming the victim — if only students had more resilience, they could rise above generational poverty and neglected schools — and excuses uninspired teaching by telling students it is on them to develop “zest,” or enthusiasm. Groups that spent decades urging the country toward higher academic standards worry about returning to empty talk of self-esteem, accepting low achievement as long as students feel good.

But teaching social-emotional skills is often seen as a way to move away from a narrow focus on test scores, and to consider instead the whole child.8

RSA Animate: Changing Education Paradigms

"Quality education has been a hot topic among teachers and parents in China to turn students away from overemphasis on test-taking to a more comprehensive development through extra-curriculum activities and critical thinking skills training," notes Chen Weihua for China Daily.9

"What passes for education today, even in our 'best' schools and colleges, is a hopeless anachronism," adds Alvin Toffler in Future Shock.10

"We analyzed some of the most popular social studies textbooks used in California and Texas," writes Dana Goldstein for The New York Times:

The textbooks cover the same sweeping story, from the brutality of slavery to the struggle for civil rights. The self-evident truths of the founding documents to the waves of immigration that reshaped the nation.

The books have the same publisher. They credit the same authors. But they are customized for students in different states, and their contents sometimes diverge in ways that reflect the nation’s deepest partisan divides.

Hundreds of differences — some subtle, others extensive — emerged in a New York Times analysis of eight commonly used American history textbooks.11

misspelled school crossing sign

In Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling, award-winning teacher John Taylor Gratto relates needed changes to our methods of education if we are to prosper in the modern world:

Dan Greenberg, found of the Sudbury Valley School – a successful…learning community based on the principles of self-initiated learning and democratic self-government – has written that between leading educators, business leaders, and government officials there is a virtually unanimous agreement regarding the essential features of an education that would meet the needs of society in the 21st century. He sees consensus on six points:

  • As society rapidly changes, individuals will have to be able to function comfortably in a world that is always in flux. Knowledge will continue to increase at a dizzying rate. This means that a content based curriculum, with a set body of information to be imparted to students, is entirely inappropriate as a means of preparing children for their adult roles.
  • People will be faced with greater individual responsibility to direct their own lives. Children must grow up in an environment that stresses self-motivation and self-assessment. Schools that focus on external motivating factors, such as rewards and punishments for meeting goals set by others, are denying children the tools they need most to survive.
  • The ability to communicate with others, to share experiences, to collaborate, and to exchange information is critical. Conversation, the ultimate means of communication, must be a central part of a sound education.
  • As the world moves toward universal recognition of individual rights within a democratic society, people must be empowered to participate as equal partners in whatever enterprise they are engaged in. Students (and teachers) require full participation in running educational institutions, including the right to radically change them when needed.
  • Technology now makes it possible for individuals to learn whatever they wish, whenever they wish, and in the manner they wish. Students should be empowered with both the technology and the responsibility for their own learning and educational timetable.
  • Children have an immense capacity for concentration and hard work when they are passionate about what they are doing, and the skills they acquire in any area of interest are readily transferable to other fields. Schools must thus become far more tolerant of individual variation and far more reliant on self-initiated activities.12
Non Sequitur by Wiley

Non Sequitur by Wiley

The debating site PolicyMic writes:

The Republican Party of Texas released its official 2012 platform, with provisions including the repeal of the Voting Rights Act, recommendations for the use of corporal punishment in classrooms, and opposition to the teaching of “higher order thinking skills.”…

Thinking separates man from machine. Critical thinking uses that unique, precious ability to help choose ethical and moral paths. Critical thinking sometimes asks difficult questions that make us squirm, attacks our most hallowed beliefs, makes us angry or sad or excited, and most importantly, leads to more thinking.…

[This] platform rollout is reminiscent of the debate that was conducted in 2010 over the content of Texas’ textbooks, which gives the current situation more context. Because of the large population of Texas, they have an enormous amount of buying power in the textbook industry, purchasing 48 million textbooks annually. Therefore, the very conservative Texas Board of Education has more clout in deciding the content of the nation’s textbooks than almost any other Board across the country.13

High school graduates
Conservative logic

Gail Collins describes how Texas inflicts bad textbooks upon us:

“What happens in Texas doesn’t stay in Texas when it comes to textbooks,” said Dan Quinn, who worked as an editor of social studies textbooks before joining the Texas Freedom Network, which was founded by Governor Ann Richards’s daughter, Cecile, to counter the religious right.

As a market, the state was so big and influential that national publishers tended to gear their books toward whatever it wanted. Back in 1994, the board requested four hundred revisions in five health textbooks it was considering. The publisher Holt, Rinehart and Winston was the target for the most changes, including the deletion of toll-free numbers for gay and lesbian groups and teenage suicide prevention groups. Holt announced that it would pull its book out of the Texas market rather than comply. (A decade later Holt was back with a new book that eliminated the gay people.)14

Creationist propaganda for children caught on film

age-old argument

“The [Texas] State Board of Education imposed tighter rules Friday [31 January 2014] on the citizen review panels that scrutinize proposed textbooks,” reports Dallas News:

The move could soften fights over evolution, religion’s role in U.S. history and other ideological debates.… Critics complain that a few activists with religious or political objections have too much power to shape what the state’s more than 5 million public school students are taught. And the Texas textbook market is so large that changes can affect the industry nationwide.15

“But scientists have too often failed to counter creationist efforts at the local level, preferring to remain in their ivory towers,” notes Chris Mooney in The Republican War on Science. “Moreover, while scientific societies have battled antievolutionists of decades, they must bring their activist senses up to date, and also battle the spread of misinformation in sex education courses and other areas.” 16

“Sex education is not mandated in Texas,” reports The Huffington Post. “And when it is taught, it is not required to be medically accurate, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit reproductive rights research group. As of 2011, Texas had the fifth-highest teen birthrate in the country.” 17

Virgin toothbrush

A class instruction manual pictured here uses consumer products to push its abstinence only program:

Virgin – originally a geographical term meaning “place where no one has gone before.” Today, virgin means not having participated in any sexual activity of any kind. Toothbrush or stick of gum demonstration can be used here to show the difference in used versus new. Encourage students to stay like a new toothbrush, wrapped up and unused. People want to marry a virgin, just like they want a virgin toothbrush or stick of gum.18

The moral roots of liberals and conservatives - Johnathan Haight

Back to School - Bob Englehart

Back to School © Bob Englehart

Speaking to one of countless questionable policies radiating from Texas leading up to the 2016 presidential elections, community activist Quanell X notes that, “something is absolutely wrong in the state of Texas, and it needs to be corrected.” 10

Writing for The Seattle Times in 1996, Nancy Montgomery points out that:

Sue Fischer, president of the Association of Washington Educators of Talented and Gifted, says that during the past 15 years, the reading level of textbooks has dropped by two grade levels. That is, what used to be third-grade material is now fifth-grade material.… In other words, textbooks have been “dumbed down.” The result, according to a wide-ranging group including teachers, textbook salesmen, education researchers and government officials, is a more poorly educated student population.20

"The term learning loss refers to any specific or general loss of knowledge and skills or to reversals in academic progress, most commonly due to extended gaps or discontinuities in a student’s education," notes The Glossary of Education Reform. "While learning loss can manifest in a wide variety of ways for a variety of reasons, the following are a few representative examples of widely recognized forms of learning loss:"

  • Summer break
  • Interrupted formal education
  • Returning dropouts
  • Senior year
  • School absence
  • Ineffective teaching
  • Course scheduling21
  • Covid pandemic

"How did the pandemic disrupt learning for America's more than 50 million K-12 students?" asks Corey Turner asked on All Things Considered as reported by Michelle Kondrich for NPR.

  1. Surprise! Students learned less when they were remote
  2. Students at high-poverty schools were hit hardest
  3. Different states saw different gaps
  4. High school graduation rates didn't change much
  5. Many high school grads chose to delay college
  6. Schools can do something about it22

The Common Sense Show reports on dumbing down by highlighting the deficiencies in the Common Corevii curriculum discovered by The Pioneer Institute:

  • “Common Core fails to teach prime factorization and consequently does not include teaching about least common denominators or greatest common factors.
  • Common Core fails to include conversions among fractions, decimals, and percents, identified as a key skill by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.
  • Common Core de-emphasizes algebraic manipulation, which is a prerequisite for advanced mathematics, and instead effectively redefines algebra as “functional algebra”, which does not prepare students for STEM careers.
  • Common Core does not require proficiency with addition and subtraction until grade 4, a grade behind the expectations of the high-performing states and our international competitors.
  • Common Core does not require proficiency with multiplication using the standard algorithm (step-by-step procedure for calculations) until grade 5, a grade behind the expectations of the high-performing states and our international competitors.
  • Common Core does not require proficiency with division using the standard algorithm until grade 6, a grade behind the expectations of the high-performing states and our international competitors.
  • Common Core starts teaching decimals only in grade 4, about two years behind the more rigorous state standards, and fails to use money as a natural introduction to this concept.
  • Common Core fails to teach in K-8 about key geometrical concepts such as the area of a triangle, sum of angles in a triangle, isosceles and equilateral triangles, or constructions with a straightedge and compass that good state standards include.” 23

How to Add, According to Common Core

“Average reading and writing SAT scores for high school students declined to their lowest levels while math results stalled in the exam used for admission at most U.S. colleges,” notes Janet Lorin for Bloomberg:

A record 1.66 million students from the class of 2012 took the exam.… The drop in scores reflect the fact that more lower-income studentsviii with less access to high-quality education are taking the test, the College Board said.24

“The SAT was taken last year [2013] by 1.6 million students,” writes KIRO TV:

It has historically been more popular on the coasts, while the other popular standardized college entrance exam, the ACT, dominated the central U.S. But the ACT overtook the SAT in overall use in 2012, in part because it is taken by almost every junior in 13 states as part of the states’ testing regimen. Last year, the ACT said it would begin offering computer-based testing in 2015.…

The new exam will be rolled out in 2016, so this year’s ninth graders will be the first to take it, in their junior year. The new SAT will continue to test reading, writing and math skills, with an emphasis on analysis. Scoring will be on a 1,600-point scale, with a separate score for the optional essay.

Students will have the option of taking the test on a computer.

One of the biggest changes is that the extra penalty for wrong answers, which discouraged guessing, will be eliminated. And some vocabulary words will be replaced with words such as “synthesis” and “empirical” that are used more widely in classrooms and in work settings.25

"Sons with high family income and parental education, compared to daughters of the same family, have lower probability of dropping out of school and are more likely to enroll into academic secondary school track," found Janne Salminen and Hannu Lehti in their study, "Parental background and daughters’ and sons’ educational outcomes – application of the Trivers-Willard hypothesis" at Cambridge University Press. "In families with low parental education or income daughters have lower probability for school dropout and enroll more likely to academic school track related to sons of the same family." 26

Education then and now

© Jeff Stahler

BBC News discusses unearned high achievement through grade inflation:ix

Ruth Lea, policy director at the [United Kingdom’s] Institute of Directors said: “This is farcical – we’ve now got endemic grade inflation which is making it harder and harder for employers to discriminate between able and less well able students, and the universities are having the same problem. We are deeply pessimistic about this dumbing down – A-levels are no longer the gold standard they were 20 years ago.” 27, x

“It would seem our society currently contains far too-many high school valedictorians,” writes Doug Barry for the Jezebel website:

The difficulty with naming so many students “valedictorian” is that, like the glut of lawyers and freshly-painted law schools, their supernumerary existence begins to dilute individual achievement, at least in the eyes of eyes of [sic] college admissions officers. The more valedictorians you have, the less special the achievement becomes, or, if you prefer to learn your lessons from Pixar, if everyone is super, then no one is.

That’s how elite colleges are starting to see the glut of valedictorians, with critics of multiple-valedictorian graduating classes citing grad [sic] inflation (rather than academic diligence) as the real reason so many kids can sail through high school with unblemished GPAs.28

In Mass Control: Engineering Human Consciousness, Jim Keith explains how this “has culminated in the all-too-familiar situation of…education today in which the majority of persons graduating from high school are functionally illiterate and ill-prepared for doing anything else than saying ‘yes’ to Big Brother and his telescreens.” 29, xi

In Future Shock, Alvin Toffler continues saying that “Nothing could be better calculated to produce people uncertain of their goals, people incapable of effective decision-making under conditions of overchoice.” 30

Keith notes that “From the standpoint of the social controllers there are many advantages to keeping the populace stupid, not the least being that the less intelligent a person is, the more susceptible he is to exterior control.31

“For the individual, limited education becomes a handicap in obtaining employment or in moving up the status ladder as jobs become more specialized, and technical-educational requirements increase,” write Charles W. McDougall and Eugene Welden in The Yearbook of Agriculture 1971: A Good Life for More People:

It might be a good idea to inscribe on every college diploma a warranty that reads, “This education is valid for 24 months or 24,000 miles, whichever comes first.” Perhaps we then should offer each college graduate a “tuneup” in education every 2 years.

The dynamic world we live in requires that each adult American update his supply of knowledge frequently.32

Carl Sagan’s wife, Ann Druyan, points out in Cannabis Culture that her husband “knew that if we were to have even a little bit of democracy in this society, as many of us as possible should understand the workings, language, values and methods of science and technology so that we can’t be so easily manipulated.” 33, xii

Sagan bemoans our fate in his 1996 book The Demon-Haunted World:

I have a foreboding of an America in my children's or grandchildren's time - when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the key manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what's true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness. The dumbing down of America is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously influential media, the 30-second sound bites (now down to 10 seconds or less), lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudoscience and superstition, but specially a kind of celebration of ignorance.34

Dunning–Kruger effect

"The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias whereby people with low ability, expertise, or experience regarding a certain type of a task or area of knowledge tend to overestimate their ability or knowledge," according to Wikipedia. "Some researchers also include in their definition the opposite effect for high performers: their tendency to underestimate their skills." 35

1953 retired Walt Disney's Tar-Baby

"Critical race theory (CRT) is a cross-disciplinary intellectual and social movement of civil-rights scholars and activists who seek to examine the intersection of race, society, and law in the United States and to challenge mainstream American liberal approaches to racial justice," notes Wikipedia. "Criticism of CRT has focused on its emphasis on storytelling, its critique of the merit principle and of objective truth, and its thesis of the voice of color." 36

A famous person once said, “You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.” But as I once said, “If you don’t teach them to read, you can fool them whenever you like.” – Max Headroom

© Jeff Stahler

“You ought also to take note of the fact that one of America’s most distinguished literary magazines, Harper’s, has found it necessary to reduce substantially the length of its articles and stories in order to accommodate the reduced attention span of its readers,” write Neil Postman in Conscientious Objections: Stirring Up Trouble About Language, Technology and Education:

There will be an erosion of the concept of the common reader, the type of person who gets most of his or her literary experience and information from novels and general non-fiction books. There will almost certainly be an increase in both illiteracy and aliteracy (an aliterate being a person who can read but doesn’t).… A general impatience with books will develop, especially with books in which language is used with subtlety to express complex ideas. Most likely there will be a decline in readers’ analytical and critical skills. According to the results of standardized tests given in schools, this has been happening in the United States for the past twenty-five years [as of 1988]. I suspect concern for history will also decline, to be replaced by a consuming interest in the present.37

Television advertising will draw advertisers away from newspapers and magazines. Some newspapers and magazines will go out of business; others will change their format and style to compete with television for audiences, and to match the style of thought promoted by television.38 Young people will, of course, become disaffected from school and reading.… Naturally, family life will be significantly changed. There will be less interaction among family members, certainly less talk between parents and children.39 You may find that in the end the line between adulthood and childhood has been erased entirely.40

“Today’s children are bombarded with an array of media glamorizing sex; along with an onslaught of sexual images and innuendos,” notes a documentary about the hypersexualization of children. “Instead of focusing on important qualities like self-acceptance, independance, and individuality,… powerful companies instead teach young girls about vanity, materialism, conformity, and sex appeal.” 41

Frank Newport, “In U.S., 46% Hold Creationist View of Human Origins,” Gallup.com, 1 June 2012.

“Creation Science was the prevailing belief system before the rise of geology in the late 18th Century,” writes the Religious Tolerance website:

Early European scientists, from Copernicus to Galileo to Newton believed (as did almost all Christians in their time) in a literal interpretation of the Bible’s account of creation.

Historians have made many estimates for the date of creation, including 3761, 3928, 4004, and 4456 BCE. The most widely accepted date was by Bishop Ussher: 4004-OCT-22 BCE

Belief in Usher’s [sic] date continued among Christian scientists, until the early 18th century, when it became obvious to most researchers that geological processes were exceedingly slow, and must have been accomplished over incredibly long periods of time. An earth only 6,000 years old was simply not possible.42

“Children who are not exposed to religious stories are better able to tell that characters in ‘fantastical stories’ are fictional,” reports Scott Kaufman for The Raw Story relating Corriveau, Chen, and Harris’s study “Judgments About Fact and Fiction by Children From Religious and Nonreligious Backgrounds” published in the July issue of Cognitive Science. “However, children raised in households in which religious narratives are frequently encountered do not treat those narratives with the same skepticism.”

“Children with exposure to religion — via church attendance, parochial schooling, or both — judged [characters in religious stories] to be real,” the authors wrote. “By contrast, children with no such exposure judged them to be pretend,” just as they had the characters in fairy tales. But children with exposure to religion judged many characters in fantastical, but not explicitly religious stories, to also be real — the equivalent of being incapable of differentiating between Mark Twain’s character Tom Sawyer and an account of George Washington’s life.

This conclusion contradicts previous studies in which children were said to be “born believers,” i.e. that they possessed “a natural credulity toward extraordinary beings with superhuman powers. Indeed, secular children responded to religious stories in much the same way as they responded to fantastical stories — they judged the protagonist to be pretend.”

The researchers also determined that “religious teaching, especially exposure to miracle stories, leads children to a more generic receptivity toward the impossible, that is, a more wide-ranging acceptance that the impossible can happen in defiance of ordinary causal relations.” 43

"School districts in 26 states have banned or opened investigations into more than 1,100 books, according to an April [2022] report from PEN America, a literary and free expression advocacy organization that compiled data on such bans from July 2021 to March [2022]," writes Elliott Ramos for NBC News:

PEN America counted actions that led to the removal or restriction of previously accessible books for at least a day, and found that Florida, Pennsylvania and Texas lead the country in bans. The three states have had more than 1,300 instances of book bans, or 87 percent of the country’s roughly 1,500 banning incidents.…

Certain bans are the result of legislation that bars school curriculums from including diversity and equity topics, such as the study of racism and inequality and themes relating to sexuality and gender identity. A high-profile example was a Florida law signed in March [2022] that prohibits classroom instruction about sexual orientation or gender identity in the state’s public schools.44

Jennifer was Meg Griffin’s friend and a member of the Heaven’s Helpers cult in ‘Chitty Chitty Death Bang’. Wearing a jogging suit and a blank smile, she often would say positive and upbeat things out of the blue with a blank stare. She committed suicide by drinking the poisoned cult refreshments. – Family Guy Wiki

Australian con-man Ken Ham’s use of neuro-linguistic trickery during speaking engagements in the United States has suckered many naive people into feeling ashamed for understanding evolution while convincing them to buy into his fairy tale belief system. For example, speaking to a room full of children and their parents:

Well, boys and girls, put your hand up if you’ve heard of the word “evolution”. Oh boy, I think just about everyone put their hands up. Hands down. Put your hand up if you’ve heard that dinosaurs lived millions of years ago. Dear, oh dear. Hands down. Put your hand up if you’ve heard that people came from apelike creatures or something like that. You know I think just about everyone in the world has heard those things, and I want to tell you right from the start here: I don’t believe that dinosaurs lived millions of years ago, and I certainly don’t believe that you came from apelike creatures or anything like that.

I mean, did your grandfather look like that? I don’t think so. Did your grandmother look like that? No, not at all. Boys and girls, I don’t believe that we came from apelike creatures; I don’t believe in millions of years; I believe in what the Bible says is true: that God created a perfect world, he created everything in six days just a few thousand years ago. We don’t believe in evolution: evolution is the idea some people have to explain life without God.

No, I believe what the Bible says, actually, I believe that God created everything. . . We’re going to talk about that.45

Should Evolution Be Taught in Schools?
Worst Top 15 Miss USA Contestant Answers

Should Math Be Taught In Schools?
Spoof of Miss USA Contestant Answers

“A 2008 University of Texas study found that 25 percent of public school biology teachers believe that humans and dinosaurs inhabited the earth simultaneously,” notes CJ Werleman for AlterNet:

“This level of scientific illiteracy provides fertile soil for political appeals based on sheer ignorance,” writes Susan Jacoby in The Age of American Unreason.46

In 2002, The Seattle Times reported on an Associated Press article by Malcolm Ritter:

Can a nation debate the merits of cloning when fewer than half its adults can give a decent definition of DNA? Can it render good judgment on genetically engineered food when only a quarter can define a molecule? And can Americans assess competing medical claims when only a third show a good understanding of the scientific process? Experts see cause for concern in the latest report card on American scientific understanding.…

Creationist student owned by Dr. Tim White

In its current form, the survey has been given every two years since 1979 and overall the results haven’t changed much, [senior analyst for the National Science Foundation Melissa] Pollak said.… What bothers Pollak the most is the finding that only about a third of adults showed a good understanding of the scientific process. “This is where science can benefit people in their daily lives,” Pollak said. People get bombarded with claims by psychics and medical quacks, she said, and if they don’t understand about critical thinking and scientific evidence, they can waste time and money. That understanding also helps citizens confront scientific political issues where the media are often content to present both sides of an argument, no matter which side has better evidence, said Shirley M. Malcom, head of education for the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Moreover, experts say, with the spread of technology, workers will have to be able to use it and the critical-thinking and problem-solving skills that should be learned in science classes. There’s another, related concern. How will the United States supply qualified workers for careers in science and technology? Nowadays, the nation leans heavily on foreign help.47, xiii, xiv

Chris Mooney raises concerns about American science in his book, The Republican War on Science:

Rallied by the Union of Concerned Scientists, a liberal-leaning group based in Massachusetts, many of the nation’s leading scientists, and by no means only liberals, have sweepingly denounced the Bush administrations misuses of science. Beyond the issue of embryonic stem cell research, they have accused the administration of skewing science on global warming, mercury pollution, condom effectiveness, the alleged health risks of abortion, and much else.…

Legal reforms, news levels of activism, raising journalistic standards – all of these measures will help beat back science abuse. In the end, however, we cannot escape the reality that we face a political problem, one that requires explicitly political solutions.48, xv

Future of higher education


i Homeschoolers Anonymous was inspired by a woman who fled her [fundamentalist] parents and published an essay online, appealing for financial aid so she could go to college and then establish a safe house for refugees like herself.… Around 40 homeschooling alumni planned the site together on a secret Facebook group.… Their goal was to show what goes on behind closed doors in some Christian homeschooling families – to share, as one blogger puts it, “the stories we were never allowed to talk about as children.”…

For those outside the homeschooling movement, and for many inside it, the stories are revelatory and often shocking. The milder ones detail the haphazard education received from parents who, with little state oversight, prioritize obedience and religious training over learning. Some focus on women living under strict patriarchal regimes. Others chronicle appalling abuse that lasted for years.…

Homeschooling now exists in a virtual legal void; parents have near-total authority over what their children learn and how they are disciplined. Not only are parents in 26 states not required to have their children tested but in 11 states, they don’t have to inform local schools when they’re withdrawing them. The states that require testing and registration often offer religious exemptions.
– Kathryn Joyce, “The Homeschool Apostates,” American Prospect, at http://prospect.org/article/homeschool-apostates (retrieved: 8 December 2013); See also Kathryn Joyce, “Escape from Christian Fundamentalism – the Kids Who Flee Abusive, Isolated Christian Homes,” AlterNet, 6 December 2013, at http://www.alternet.org/belief/escape-christian-fundamentalism-kids-who-flee-abusive-isolated-christian-homes (retrieved: April 2013).

ii The fifteenth century was one of those times when higher education for women had a priority of zilch;* in fact, the only country to which women with a yen for a degree could go was Italy.
– Vicki Leon, Uppity Women of Medieval Times, (New York, NY: MIF Books, 1997, p. 230.

* Lack of education limits prospects, decreases family income, reduces health, puts women and girls at risk of trafficking and exploitation, and limits the economic advancement of entire countries.
– “Girls’ and Women’s Education,” World Education, at http://www.worlded.org/WEIInternet/international/expertise/display.cfm?tid=1004&id=756 (retrieved: 5 February 2015).

Many studies show that educated women have healthier pregnancies and a lower infant mortality rate.
– Tomiko Duggan, Director, Office of Embassy Relations, Washington DC, USA, UN Global Day of Parents 2013, Universal Peace Federation, 11 June 2013, at http://www.upf.org/united-nations/global-day-of-parents/2013/5175-global-day-of-parents-to-be-observed-in-washington-dc (retrieved: 5 February 2015).

Bart vs Hamster

Bart vs Hamster – DO NOT TOUCH
© The Simpsons

iii Learning, in it’s simplest form, can be illustrated by an experiment carried out by Yerkes. He trained an earthworm to run along a T-shaped maze, which had dried leaves at one end of the short arms of the cross-piece of the T, and had an electrified grille in the other arm. The worm received a shock when he turned to the right and found dried leaves (apparently desirable to earthworms) if he turned left. The directions can, of course, be interchanged without affecting the experiment providing they are not interchanged during the experiment. After some hundreds of trails the earthworm always learned to run away from the shock and toward the leaves. This is one of the simplest examples of what the psychologist means by learning.
– F.H. George, Cybernetics (London: Teach Yourself Books, 1971), p. 118.

iv The Irish Independent reports that grocery giant TESCO has strapped electronic armbands to their warehouse workers to measure their productivity, tracking their actions so closely that management knows when they briefly pause to drink from a water fountain or take a bathroom break.&#133 As surveillance technology advances, companies can increasingly track all aspects of their workers’ time and activity.…

But increased surveillance not only creates a more stressful workplace for workers, it also effects the product, Gilliom points out. For example, nurses are no longer taking the time to get to know their patients because hospitals make more money when more people are hustled through. In the past, nurses had ways to circumvent hospital pressure. Now, electronic tracking of patient movement means that medical professionals will spend far less time with you when you are sick.
– Tana Ganeva, “Work is Becoming More Like Prison As Some Workers Forced to Wear Electronic Bands That Track Everything They Do (Including Bathroom Breaks),” AlterNet.org, at http://www.alternet.org/civil-liberties/work-becoming-more-prison-some-workers-forced-wear-electronic-bands-track-everything (retrieved: 26 February 2013).

v Traditionally, classrooms have been organised with children sitting in rows with the teacher at the front of the room, directing learning and ensuring a disciplined classroom environment. This is known as direct instruction.

Beginning in the late 1960s and early ‘70s, teachers began to experiment with more innovative and experimental styles of teaching. These included basing learning on children’s interests, giving them more control over what happened in the classroom and getting rid of memorising times tables and doing mental arithmetic. This approach is known as inquiry or discovery learning.

Based on this recent study of classrooms in the UK and China and a recent UK report titled What makes great teaching?, there is increasing evidence that these new-age education techniques, where teachers facilitate instead of teach and praise students on the basis that all must be winners, in open classrooms where what children learn is based on their immediate interests, lead to under-performance.
– Kevin Donnelly, “A group of teachers went to China and realized that the West is instructing students wrong,” Business Insider, 24 April 2015, at http://www.businessinsider.com/direct-instruction-vs-inquiry-learning-2015-4 (retrieved: 14 June 2015).

vi The Texas Board of Education’s responsibilities including establishing the state’s public school curriculum, approving textbooks and managing the state’s permanent school fund.… Six incumbents on the Texas Board of Education will retain their spots on the panel that has drawn attention in years past for ideological battles including over evolution.… An intense fight over how evolution is taught in science curriculum put a national spotlight on the board in 2009. The board ultimately decided that Texas schools would no longer have to teach the “strengths and weaknesses” of evolution. Teachers would still be encouraged to consider “all sides” of scientific theories. The board did see a shift more toward the center after the defeat in 2010 of social conservative Republican Don McLeroy, the former board chairman who believed the Earth was only 6,000 years old and that the Christian influences of the founding fathers are important to studying American history.
– Jamie Stengle, “6 incumbents return to Texas Board of Education,” Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, 6 November 2012, at http://lubbockonline.com/filed-online/2012-11-06/6-incumbents-return-texas-board-education (retrieved: 7 November 2012).

Digital education

vii “Common Core Standards might just be the most despised education policy politicians have shoved down the throat of We The People since the creation of the U.S. Department of Education.* But instead of getting rid of the common core atrocity, they have decided all that’s needed is to rename it.
– Karin Piper, “Parents Beware: State Leaders Want to Rename Common Core to Fool the Public,” 1 February 2014, at http://politichicks.tv/column/parents-beware-state-leaders-want-rename-common-core-fool-public/ (retrieved: 2 February 2014).

* Republican Thomas Massie of Kentucky has been trying for years to get rid of the Department of Education with H.R.899. Without federal oversight, places like my hometown will teach students how to use digital whiteboards, but other schools (if they would even qualify as such) will tell their pupils that digital whiteboards are the work of the devil.

viii More than 1.1 million students in the United States in grades K–12 were homeless in the 2011–12 school year—a record high.… Experts say that the numbers may even be higher than what you’ll see here, because irregular class attendance and changing addresses mean homeless kids are difficult to track.* The National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth says that two trends are responsible for these big numbers: a growing shortage of affordable rental housing and a simultaneous increase in severe poverty in the U.S.
– “The 10 Worst States of Student Homelessness,” takepart.com, at http://www.takepart.com/photos/poverty-in-the-us-homeless-students-by-state?cmpid=tp-ptnr-upworthy (retrieved: 8 December 2013).

* Homeschooling now exists in a virtual legal void; parents have near-total authority over what their children learn and how they are disciplined. Not only are parents in 26 states not required to have their children tested but in 11 states, they don’t have to inform local schools when they’re withdrawing them. The states that require testing and registration often offer religious exemptions.
– Kathryn Joyce, “The Homeschool Apostates,” American Prospect, at http://prospect.org/article/homeschool-apostates (retrieved: 8 December 2013); See also Kathryn Joyce, “Escape from Christian Fundamentalism – the Kids Who Flee Abusive, Isolated Christian Homes,” AlterNet, 6 December 2013, at http://www.alternet.org/belief/escape-christian-fundamentalism-kids-who-flee-abusive-isolated-christian-homes (retrieved: April 2013).

ix In general, the highest academic grade inflation is in the lowest achieving schools.
– M. Donald Thomas, Ph.D. President Emeritus, School Management Study Group and William Bainbridge, Ph.D. President, SchoolMatch Corporation, Columbus, Ohio, “Grade Inflation: The Current Fraud,” at http://schoolmatch.com/articles/ESRJAN97.htm (retrieved: 5 June 2012).

x Friends TV show, Scene: N.Y.U. Paleontology department, Ross is putting up the grades on the message board.
Burt: (another professor) Wow! It looks like you were very generous with your grades this semester! (Ross frantically starts to change some as a female student, Elizabeth, approaches.)
– “The One Where Ross Dates a Student,” Friends, 9 March 2000, at http://www.fanfr.com/scripts/saison6/friendsgeneration2.php?nav=script&version=vo&episodescript=618 (retrieved: 26 August 2012).

Fat Freddy's Cat (animated GIF)

xi Between 21 and 23 percent of the adult population or approximately 44 million people, according to the [1992] National Adult Literacy Survey (NALS),…can read a little but not well enough to fill out an application, read a food label, or read a simple story to a child.… Another 25-28 percent of the adult population, or between 45 and 50 million people,…can perform more complex tasks such as comparing, contrasting, or integrating pieces of information but usually not higher level reading and problem-solving skills.… Literacy experts believe that [these] adults…lack a sufficient foundation of basic skills to function successfully in our society.
– “Facts on Literacy In America,” Literacy Volunteers of America, at http://www.literacyvolunteers.org/about/faqs/facts.html (retrieved: 2008).

xii Part of the charm of Sagan’s Cosmos was its earnest confidence in both its host’s ability to explain and its audience’s willingness to understand.* The show assumed that people really did want to know why there were crabs that looked like samurai, or whether there might be more than three dimensions, and that the subject matter was compelling enough that it didn’t need any jazzing up.
– Tom Hawking, “Neil deGrasse Tyson’s ‘Cosmos’ Is Just Different Enough From Carl Sagan’s to Work,” Flavorwire, 10 March 2014, at http://flavorwire.com/444371/neil-degrasse-tysons-cosmos-is-just-different-enough-from-carl-sagans-to-work (retrieved: 3 July 2014).

* “Electronic teach-in via television seems to be most effective if you do extensive promotion and encourage people to view at home,” [teach-in producer Karin Kristiansson] said.
– Gordon Webb, “Communication, Bridge to a Better World,” in The Yearbook of Agriculture 1971: A Good Life for More People (U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1971), p. 221.

xiii Some 20 percent of Microsoft’s engineers are of Indian origin.*
– “Bill Gates joins AIDS fight in India,” Yahoo! News UK & Ireland, 11 Nov 2002, at http://uk.news.yahoo.com/021111/80/dedtr.html (retrieved: 2002); See also Reuters, “Microsoft investing in India’s future; Boosting education, partnerships, software development,” MSNBC News, 12 Nov 2002, at http://www.msnbc.com/news/833934.asp (retrieved: 2002); and “Microsoft to Invest $400 Mln in Indian Projects,” Reuters, 12 Nov 2002, at http://reuters.com/news_article.jhtml?type=technologynews&StoryID=1720244 (retrieved: 2002).

* Morgan Stanley estimates the number of U.S. jobs outsourced to India will double to about 150,000 in the next three years. Analysts predict as many as two million U.S. white-collar jobs such as programmers, software engineers and applications designers will shift to low cost centers by 2014.
– “U.S. Companies Moving More Jobs Overseas,” Netscape News, 27 Dec 2003 (retrieved: 2004).

xiv [Regarding China and India] “They have more honors kids than we have kids.”
– Charles M. Blow, “They have more honors kids than we have kids,” The New York Times, 31 July 2008, at http://blow.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/07/31/they-have-more-honors-kids-than-we-have-kids/ (retrieved: 5 March 2014).

xv Science is not just under repression; the attack is akin to the burning of books that occurred in Nazi Germany.
– Todd Wilkinson, Science Under Siege: The Politician’s War on Nature and Truth (Boulder, CO: Johnson Books, 1998), p. 11.

Flipped classroom


1 Arjun, “The Origin of Education and Mandatory Schooling,” Collective Evolution, 7 January 2013, at http://www.collective-evolution.com/2013/01/07/the-origin-of-education-and-mandatory-schooling/ (retrieved: 3 July 2013).

2 Jim Keith, Mass Control: Engineering Human Consciousness (Lilburn, GA: IllumiNet Press, 1999), pp. 28, 29.

3 Peter Gray, “School Is a Prison – And Damaging Our Kids,” Salon.com, 8 September 2013, at http://www.filmsforaction.org/news/school_is_a_prison_and_damaging_our_kids/ (retrieved: 10 June 2015).

4 Arjun, “The Origin of Education” (retrieved: 3 July 2013).

5 “19 Crazy Things That School Children Are Being Arrested For In America,” The American Dream, at http://endoftheamericandream.com/archives/19-crazy-things-that-school-children-are-being-arrested-for-in-america (retrieved: 26 June 2012).

6 Neil Postman, Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology (New York, NY: Vintage Books, 1993), p. 186.

7 "Whole-Child Design Blueprint," Turnaround for Children Toolbox, at https://turnaroundusa.org/toolbox/wcdesign/ (retrieved: 16 April 2023).

8 Kate Zernike, “Testing for Joy and Grit? Schools Nationwide Push to Measure Students’ Emotional Skills,” The New York Times, 29 February 2016, at http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/01/us/testing-for-joy-and-grit-schools-nationwide-push-to-measure-students-emotional-skills.html (retrieved: 1 March 2016).

9 Chen Weihua, “School work: Chinese want less, US more,” China Daily, 23-25 August 2013, 33(10169), p. 2.

10 Alvin Toffler, Future Shock (Toronto: Bantam Books, 1988, 1970), p. 398.

11 Dana Goldstein, "Two States. Eight Textbooks. Two American Stories," The New York Times, 12 Jan 2020, at https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/01/12/us/texas-vs-california-history-textbooks.html (retrieved: 28 April 2020).

12 David Albert, 2001, in John Taylor Gratto, Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling (Gabriola Island, BC: New Society Publishers, 2013), p. xiii-xv.

13 Megan Malloy, “Texas Republicans 2012 Platform Opposes Critical Thinking and Supports Corporal Punishment,” PolicyMic, 1 July 2012, at http://www.policymic.com/articles/10551/texas-republicans-2012-platform-opposes-critical-thinking-and-supports-corporal-punishment (retrieved: 6 July 2012).

14 Gail Collins, “How Texas Inflicts Bad Textbooks on Us,” The New York Review of Books, 21 June 2012, at http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2012/06/21/how-texas-inflicts-bad-textbooks-on-us/ (retrieved: 30 October 2016).

15 “UPDATE: Rules on citizen review panels,” Dallas News, 31 January 2014, at http://www.dallasnews.com/news/education/headlines/20140131-texas-education-board-overhauls-graduation-requirements.ece (retrieved: 1 February 2014).

16 Chris Mooney, The Republican War on Science (New York: NY: Basic Books, 2005), p. 255.

17 Rebecca Klein, “Texas School District Sex Education Compares Non-Virgins To Chewed Gum,” The Huffington Post, 8 November 2013, at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/08/texas-virgins-chewed-gum_n_4241610.html (retrieved: 9 November 2013).

18 Ibid. Klein, “Texas School District Sex Education”; See also “Texas Adolescent Reproductive Health Facts,” U.S. Department of Health andHuman Services, 2001, at http://www.hhs.gov/ash/oah/adolescent-health-topics/reproductive-health/states/tx.html (retrieved: 9 November 2013).

19 Transcription of video at Randy Wallace, “Father gets 6 months in jail for paying child support late,” myFox Houston, 22 January 2014, at http://www.myfoxhouston.com/story/24514990/father-gets-6-months-in-jail-for-paying-child-support-late (retrieved: 22 January 2014).

20 Nancy Montgomery, “Dumbed-down texts too easy, too simple, too boring, critics say,” The Seattle Times, 3 March 1996, p. A1, at http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=19960303&slug=2317134 (retrieved: 5 June 2012).

21 Learning Loss, The Glossary of Learning Reform: For Journalists, Parents, and Community Members, at https://www.edglossary.org/learning-loss/ (retrieved: 22 June 2022).

22 Corey Turner (All Things Considered), NPR, 22 June 2022, at https://www.npr.org/2022/06/22/1105970186/pandemic-learning-loss-findings retrieved (22 June 2022).

23 “How Your Child Is Being Dumbed Down,” Dave Hodges: The Common Sense Show, 2 August 2013, at http://thecommonsenseshow.com/2013/08/02/how-your-child-is-being-dumbed-down/ (retrieved: 3 August 2013); See also Pioneer Institute at Truth in American Education, at http://truthinamericaneducation.com/tag/pioneer-institute/ (retrieved: 3 August 2013).

24 Janet Lorin, “SAT Reading, Writing Test Scores Drop to Lowest Levels,” Bloomberg, 24 September 2012, at http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-09-24/sat-reading-writing-test-scores-drop-to-lowest-levels.html (retrieved: 2 March 2013).

25 Kimberly Hefling (The Associated Press), “New SAT: The essay portion is to become optional,” KIRO TV, 5 March 2014, at http://www.kirotv.com/ap/ap/sat-college-entrance-exam-to-get-upgrade/nd526/ (retrieved: 11 March 2014).

26 Janne Salminen and Hannu Lehti, "Parental background and daughters’ and sons’ educational outcomes – application of the Trivers-Willard hypothesis," 6 January 2023, at https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/journal-of-biosocial-science/article/parental-background-and-daughters-and-sons-educational-outcomes-application-of-the-triverswillard-hypothesis/47FD4388B618EB5E078336813FEB71E3

27 “Results ‘a real achievement’,” BBC News, 17 Aug 2000, at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/education/883484.stm (retrieved: 5 June 2012).

28 Doug Barry, “Why the Hell Are There So Many High School Valedictorians?” Jezebel, 2 June 2013, at http://jezebel.com/why-the-hell-are-there-so-many-high-school-valedictoria-510918760 (retrieved: 2 June 2013).

29 Jim Keith, Mass Control: Engineering Human Consciousness (Lilburn, GA: IllumiNet Press, 1999), p. 24.

30 Alvin Toffler, Future Shock (Toronto: Bantam Books, 1988, 1970), p. 417.

31 Keith, Mass Control, p. 24.

32 Charles W. McDougall and Eugene Welden, “School Bells Ring for Adults Through Life,” in The Yearbook of Agriculture 1971: A Good Life for More People (U. S. Department of Agriculture, 1971), pp. 174, 172

33 Ann Druyan (Carl Sagan’s wife), interview with Pete Brady, “Carl Sagan: Visionary Scientist; World-renowned teacher, author and scientist found that cannabis helped him to fully explore the cosmos,” Cannabis Culture #32, Aug/Sep 2001, p. 45.

34 Carl Sagan, The Demon-Huanted World (Random House, 1996), p. 28.

35 Dunning–Kruger effect, Wikipedia, at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E2%80%93Kruger_effect

36 Critical race theory, Wikipedia, at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Critical_race_theory (referenced: 28 April 2022).

37 Neil Postman, Conscientious Objections: Stirring Up Trouble About Language, Technology and Education (New York, NY: Vintage Books, 1988), p. 111.

38 Op. cit.

39 Ibid., p. 112.

409 Ibid., p. 113.

41 “Illuminati Hypersexualization of Children Exposed! Disney Pedophilia and Satanic Rolemodels,” codenameANOOR video at YouTube.com, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hwUwchCeeI4 (retrieved: 7 February 2015). (Show video)

42 “A brief history of the conflict between evolution and creation science,” Religious Tolerance, at http://www.religioustolerance.org/ev_hist.htm (retrieved: 14 July 2014).

43 Scott Kaufman, “Children exposed to religion have difficulty distinguishing fact from fiction: researchers,” The Raw Story, 18 July 2014, at http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/07/18/children-exposed-to-religion-have-difficulty-distinguishing-fact-from-fiction/ (retrieved: 26 July 2014); See also Kathleen H. Corriveaua, Eva E. Chenb, Paul L. Harris, “Judgments About Fact and Fiction by Children From Religious and Nonreligious Backgrounds,” Cognitive Science, July 2014, at http://www.bu.edu/learninglab/files/2012/05/Corriveau-Chen-Harris-in-press.pdf (retrieved: 26 July 2014).

44 Elliott Ramos, "More than half of states have banned books as anti-LGBTQ and anti-race education laws spread," NBC News, 26 Apr 2022, at https://www.nbcnews.com/data-graphics/map-book-bans-rise-rcna25898 (retrieved 28 April 2022).

45 “Creationism propaganda for children caught on camera,” Youtube user Monio E, at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dGxBUyHbn2E (retrieved: 19 December 2014).

46 CJ Werleman, “The Results Are In: America Is Dumb and on the Road to Getting Dumber,” AlterNet, 4 June 2014, at http://www.alternet.org/education/results-are-america-dumb-and-road-getting-dumber (retrieved: 7 June 2014).

47 Malcolm Ritter (The Associated Press), “What we don’t know about science could fill books,” The Seattle Times, 19 June 2002, at http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=20020619&slug=science19 (retrieved: 5 June 2012).

48 Chris Mooney, The Republican War on Science (New York, NY: Basic Books, 2005), pp. 4, 255.