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I have a serious question I want some serious answers and opinions on


Mark F. Barnes

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Something I have noticed in traveling around, you sit next to people on long flights and try to talk about something. Well here lately it seems the more younger people I talk to, the more I find out out how little they really know about the general workings of our government, and how things actually work. Perhaps this election has stimulated the younger interest in voting, but do they really have a clue about what is really going on. It seems to me Civics and Government use to be taught in school. How the government worked, your civic rights and responsibilities etc. It was mandatory to take to graduate. Is it not this way anymore? Is it that it's being taught but being taught poorly? Or has it been dropped from the curriculum in lew of other things? This boggles me if it's true because, we are setting ourselves up for losing the the very values, that this country was built on. When was the last time you heard the term, "Civic Duty"? It use to be our civic duty to help support the system by serving on juries, by supporting your local food bank, my donating blood, and so on and so forth. What is the state of the civic duties, in today's world? Houston use to have one of the greatest "Civic Duty" infrastructures in the world. There were people that had the means, to make serving their civic duties as a full time job so to speak. The huge socialite groups back in the 60's and 70's, were so active in fund raising for charities, and local needs. Take the River Oaks Theater for instance, 40 years ago if there was a need to restore and save this historic structure, a group of local Socialites and Debutantes, would have gotten together, thrown some get together, and Bingo, the money would be raised, and issue resolved. Nowadays everybody is looking out for number one and that's it.

Also it seems that lost in the current generation is the power you have to make the government work for you. In just basic conversation with the younger people these days, it appears that the schools must be putting less attention to preparing students for competent citizenship. Why is this happening? Am I missing something here? I mean I can see that this lack of civics in education serves a useful purpose, however, if people do not know what is going on or don't know what to do about something they don't like in government, those in power will find it much easier to stay in power. The more confused and ignorant your constituents are, the easier it is to feed them a line of BS and get yourself re-elected. What brought all this on was two conversations I had on planes, while I was traveling home. As you can imagine the election is the hottest topic going, and that's about all anybody is talking about. On the flight from Heathrow to JFK I sat next to young man from Abu Dhabi, that was returning to NYC where he works. And we talked for several hours, and he actually addressed this subject in our conversation. He said it amazed him on how little students in the US knew so very little about their own government and how it functioned. I found this very curious, and asked him to explain further. He attended NYU and now worked in the city, but he almost went on a rant, on how little the kids he attended NYU with, actually had a clue to the basic structure and workings of the government. I guess it kind of blew my hair back, and maybe I just haven't been paying attention. I had another conversation with three people on my flight to IAH and all of a sudden it was more prevalent as to what he was talking about. These kids didn't have a clue. Now I fully understand that civic courses usually don't teach you about the sleaziness of politics, particularly what the relationship of lobbyists to legislators are often like, nor do they tell you about FBI wiretapping, the CIA's role in overthrowing democratically elected governments, etc... However they should understand the balance of the House and Senate, and how it effects basic government function. Have I now all of a sudden become hyper-sensitive to this and am I making a mountain out of a mole hill? Chime in and give me some more insight to this scary subject, because I am starting to lose sleep over it, because all of a sudden this is bothering me. I've already been calling my kids and quizzing them, and I feel better about them, of course I raised them to fully understand what's going on, and one of my daughters is a PS major and can talk a blue streak on the subject. But did I just get caught on a plane with some that slipped through the cracks? This is very alarming. I mean we owe it to these kids and our next generation to provide them the civic education they deserve. Not only do we owe it to them, we owe it to our country to educate our kids so that we don't lose what has taken over 200 years to build. Are the districts giving lip service to the importance of civic education, but in reality blowing it off, and not stressing the real importance of it? This really befuddles me. How can we be expected to maintain a society, generation after generation, that is totally based on theory and ideas, if we are not teaching it to every person involved in that society. I mean our society is a very new one, when you put it up against other countries internationally. And our government is totally based on an idea, and this idea was recorded on parchment and is on display at the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, D.C. We have a society that is multi-cultural, and is made up of people from all over the world, only people from Native American heritage, can be considered local. I mean think about it. Just pick a country in Europe and think about it. The Italians have been there for thousands of years, the Greeks, the Spanish, and so on. They have a deeper Heritage that we as Americans do not. Our society is something that has to be taught, it's not an ancient heritage. And Civics is the way we instill this in our kids. This election has had me distracted I guess from a lot of things, but I feel in a way it has got me questioning this, and this is something that I think is being taken for granted. We have got to right this ship, and it's going to start right in your home. I don't care who you are voting for, that's your right, and Civic Duty to do so, as a matter of fact I'm fixing to go do mine at the Annex in a few minutes. But this is a topic I think really needs to be explored, just to see where we really stand on it. Civic ignorance will be the downfall of the entire system, if we don't really do something about it and not just talk the talk.

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I don't know if civics courses are still taught, or how they are taught. I know that when I was in high school (early 80s) the basics of US government operation were taught, but not very well.

My belief is that most intelligent people greatly overestimate the intelligence and awareness of the people around them. I didn't realize this until the mid to late 90s, when regular folks started to use the internet. Before that, most of my friends were professional programmers or technically savy early adopters who sought out new technology and were not intimidated by complexity. These people gave me a skewed vision of just how uninformed most people are. I was shocked. I started to socialize with people (young and old) who didn't know much about government, politics or history, among other things. They lived small lives, consisting mostly of surviving from paycheck to paycheck and trying to figure out how to occupy themselves with the latest fads. They would jabber endlessly about tabloid gossip and refuse to even try thinking about anything more important.

I realize I sound like an intellectual snob to some, but so be it. That was my experience.

I don't know for sure, but I imagine this is nothing new. I don't think anything has happened recently to make the majority of people dangerously ignorant of the world around them. I think it may be easier to see now for reasons similar to those that exposed me to it. Just as the barriers to entry for online social networks lowered with the advent of the web, the barriers to entry for mass media have lowered as a result of the digital revolution.

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I agree with much of what you're saying. For a democracy to work, people need to understand how it functions and be engaged in the political process.

Many of the workings of government manage to be both boring and complex. As someone who has reviewed grant proposals for a non-profit, I'm very aware of what a mind-numbing exercise funds allocation can be. Try it sometime; you'll come away with a new-found respect for (and wariness of) 'the bureaurocrats'. Those who dismiss everyone in government as a bunch of free-spending, clueless crooks overlook that it's our government that has made America what it is; the greatest nation on Earth, some say.

Yet, as Mark pointed out, people seem willing to substitute government for community. Having grown up in a small town, volunteering was an expected part of everyday life. My father was a volunteer firefighter and ambulance driver. Getting out of bed at 2am on a winter's night to pry some drunk kid out of his wrecked car isn't much fun, but if he (and others like him) hadn't done it, it wouldn't have gotten done. Without peole like my mother, our town wouldn't have had a public library or historical society. She also taught piano, purposely keeping her rates low enough that any family who had a child willing to learn could afford them. These values seem rather old-fashioned now. We have more urgent matters to attend to now; TV shows to watch, video games to play.

But many people no longer expect to stay in the same communities for decades at a time. Material goods seem more important than the good will of their neighbors. The only function of government, it seems, is to increase the resale value of their homes.

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The American government has become this colossus amoeba of offices and departments making it so complex that it basically is "dumbing down" America with regards to our government. Today, as I see it there are two America's: The people of America and The American Government (which is basically run by corporations).

Maybe if the government went back to the KISS method, most people would be inclined to become more involved and active.

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I agree with much of what you're saying. For a democracy to work, people need to understand how it functions and be engaged in the political process.

Many of the workings of government manage to be both boring and complex. As someone who has reviewed grant proposals for a non-profit, I'm very aware of what a mind-numbing exercise funds allocation can be. Try it sometime; you'll come away with a new-found respect for (and wariness of) 'the bureaurocrats'. Those who dismiss everyone in government as a bunch of free-spending, clueless crooks overlook that it's our government that has made America what it is; the greatest nation on Earth, some say.

Yet, as Mark pointed out, people seem willing to substitute government for community. Having grown up in a small town, volunteering was an expected part of everyday life. My father was a volunteer firefighter and ambulance driver. Getting out of bed at 2am on a winter's night to pry some drunk kid out of his wrecked car isn't much fun, but if he (and others like him) hadn't done it, it wouldn't have gotten done. Without peole like my mother, our town wouldn't have had a public library or historical society. She also taught piano, purposely keeping her rates low enough that any family who had a child willing to learn could afford them. These values seem rather old-fashioned now. We have more urgent matters to attend to now; TV shows to watch, video games to play.

But many people no longer expect to stay in the same communities for decades at a time. Material goods seem more important than the good will of their neighbors. The only function of government, it seems, is to increase the resale value of their homes.

This is huge especially the red part, and dead on the money. Growing up and still living in a small town I have taken a lot of this for granted. Us as parents, have dropped the ball on a lot of this, because we can't lay all of this off on the schools. Believe me, my wife being an educator, had plenty to say about this last night at 2 a.m. However she agrees the district could do more, but are too interested in Sports and some things are being shelved for ESL and other things. But parents can start the education at home, and put the damn Wii's and PS2's away, or better yet, don't buy them, get your kid a damn Library card instead.

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It seems to me Civics and Government use to be taught in school. How the government worked, your civic rights and responsibilities etc. It was mandatory to take to graduate. Is it not this way anymore? Is it that it's being taught but being taught poorly? Or has it been dropped from the curriculum in lew of other things?

My high school experience (in the RGV from 1998-2002) was that 85% to 90% of students were taught the required Government, U.S. History, and Economics courses by coaches. The other 10% to 15% of students enrolled in such courses actually got decent (sometimes even passionate) teachers who specialized in those fields, usually teaching Pre-AP or AP courses almost exclusively.

Mind you, I'm not saying that the coaches were incompetent. I can recall one, at least, that taught an AP U.S. History class and that was a very thoughtful Libertarian (his office always reeked of weed). They just weren't motivated to go above and beyond the State-mandated curriculum and were only doing it to pick up a little more income.

Also it seems that lost in the current generation is the power you have to make the government work for you. In just basic conversation with the younger people these days, it appears that the schools must be putting less attention to preparing students for competent citizenship. Why is this happening?

I don't think that this is a recent issue. The youth of today is mostly disengaged from politics with a core of outspoken political junkies that only seem to make up for it in terms of media focus. How is that different from Gen X? Even the Boomer hippies were mostly disengaged, only riled up or manipulated to meaningful action by yippies every now and again. As with previous generations, Gen Y will grow into it...there's even an argument to be made that they'll really step up to the plate in coming elections, becoming much more engaged than the Boomers or Gen X ever were.

Of course, whether they'll be prepared to make good decisions is another matter altogether.

--------------------

OK, now for my own little rant:

The curriculum needs to be tweaked. My preference is that much more focus be given to Government, Economics, and History than is presently the case. By high school, English grammar should not need to be focused on and courses teaching literature should be treated mostly as electives promoted only for the college-bound students. To the extent that literature is taught, it should be tied into the Government, Economics, and History curriculae.

Government, Economics, and History should be taught as seperate subjects up until the Junior years to provide students with a core knowledge of the mechanics of each subject, then taught as a combined 'capstone' course in the Senior year, tying it all together as integrated theory under a teacher that is required to have more credentials and that is paid commensurately. And this goes for all students, whether vocational or college-bound.

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Civcs is no longer taught in schools. Through three elementary schools and a high school, I never saw Civics as a course. I only knew about it from the Brady Bunch or some other TV show.

You are absolutely correct that young people today have no idea how their government works. Witness the frenzy over the presidential election, when neither candidate has the power to accomplish half of his promises. If the children today (and by "children" I mean 20- and 30-somethings) would get half as excited about their local congressional and city races they might actually be able to Change™ things. For some reason they think "grassroots" efforts are only for national contests and not for school boards, city councils, and other offices that actually make a difference at the grass roots of their everyday lives.

As for "civic duty" -- again, we're in Leave it to Beaver territory. Philanthropy for philanthropy's sake is on the way out. Warren Buffett may be the last of the big time givers. These days if you can't slap your name ("Trump") or the name of your company ("BP Promenade") on something, the wallets stay closed.

Personally, I look forward to certain civic activities like voting and jury duty. I give more to charity than I probably should. But I don't think of these as my civic duties. I think of them as the things that help define me as a person, and simply the right thing to do.

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Government, Economics, and History should be taught as seperate subjects up until the Junior years to provide students with a core knowledge of the mechanics of each subject, then taught as a combined 'capstone' course in the Senior year, tying it all together as integrated theory under a teacher that is required to have more credentials and that is paid commensurately. And this goes for all students, whether vocational or college-bound.

I like that. My personal dream is for every course to be taught as part of history. Everything, from scientific discoveries and mathematical inventions to alphabets and grammar has a history surrounding it. Learning that history places the facts and figures in context and weaves them together. I find it much easier to remember and use information if I'm familiar with the history that brought it to me.

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Interesting ideas here. I would love to see the kind of interdisciplinary curriculum you all are proposing. I teach a rather esoteric subject, and I am under no illusions about that: I know that students don't NEED to know the meat and potatoes of what I teach. So I make sure that my courses include writing, reading, critical thinking, politics, current events, and social issues such as feminism. These topics are raised for consideration and discussion, and linked to the more esoteric subject I teach.

I am continually shocked by how poorly college students write... and I don't just mean grammatical errors. I mean that they cannot express their meaning through their writing. This is why literature and composition MUST be taught in high school. You can't write well if you don't read well-written books and journals. And if you can't write well enough to express your thoughts or your argument, you won't succeed at many jobs.

The difficulty is in creating a replicable curriculum that combines all these topics: civics, ethics, history, government, and also demands reading, writing, and critical thinking. They are hard things to measure through standardized testing.

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I agree as well about interdisciplinary teaching and also not cutting corners in earlier education.

One of my undergraduate degrees is in Art History (UH) and I feel that and I learned the most and a lot of my general analytical skills were expanded because of it - even though I have experienced that some think arts are expendable.

That being said, I think that kind of outcome is possible in any subject and depends on the educator (like what sarahiki explained above about including other areas).

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I am continually shocked by how poorly college students write... and I don't just mean grammatical errors. I mean that they cannot express their meaning through their writing. This is why literature and composition MUST be taught in high school. You can't write well if you don't read well-written books and journals. And if you can't write well enough to express your thoughts or your argument, you won't succeed at many jobs.

Ugh. This is one of the things that gets my undies in a bundle. I've written about this elsewhere on HAIF before, but I'll say it again -- many of the students coming out of college today simply cannot think or write. Even the ones graduating from the so-called "top" journalism schools (I'm looking at you, Northwestern!) are horrible. Sure, they learned how to blog and crop digital photos and use the computer for social networks (without creating any real life social networks), but they can't write a resume. They can't express themselves through the written word. They don't know the first thing about sentence structure, and if you ask any of them to diagram what they've written all they can do is stare at you and blink.

I have actually gotten resumes from college graduates with "u" "ur" and "4" used as complete words.

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Nowadays everybody is looking out for number one and that's it.

This is very true. I look at my grandfathers generation, from the war, and they were a tight knit and helpful group of people. And when that generation got a job, their employers took care of them all the way to the end.

Today, things are different. Employers will dump an employee who has devoted 20 years of loyalty without even thinking twice. Fresh out of school, I worked out in the field, 7 days a week 16 hours a day, for 6 months straight. No weekends, no days off. Just because I was eager to prove myself. And to top it off, I was in the US earning Canadian wages which at that time were about 1: 1.50. So as an educated person, I worked over 100 hours per week, and made just under $500 each week as I was salaried. Silly? Perhaps. But the oil fields aren't for the timid. I moved up quickly in the company though. Then they shipped me off to the Arctic Circle during the dead, dark winter. That was interesting to say the least. And weeks after I return, I got laid off by some HR staffers who knew me as only a number, and had no idea what I had contributed previously.

So, yeah, I make decisions that are best for me personally now. I can't expect the job I am in now to be there for me in 20 years. Nor can I expect Social Security to be there for me in 20 years. I'm contributing to a cause I will not likely see any benefit from.

However, that said, all things seem to ebb and flow. I have been in Houston for a few years now and find myself developing roots. I live in the Heights which has the benefits of many small town, while retaining the anonymity of a large city. My wife is a musician and volunteers at local hospitals. I support and donate to the local neighborhood civic association regularly. I walk for breast cancer and run for the heart association. And United Way gets their biweekly deduction from my paycheck.

I know this topic was about educating about government, but I had to detour for a second.

So back to topic, its interesting that up north we were taught not only our system of government (Canada) but also the US system. It is shocking to hear that these courses are not taught, or poorly taught, down here. If you look at it from an election standpoint, an uneducated vote carries the same weight as an educated one. And thats scary!

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Interesting ideas here. I would love to see the kind of interdisciplinary curriculum you all are proposing. I teach a rather esoteric subject, and I am under no illusions about that: I know that students don't NEED to know the meat and potatoes of what I teach. So I make sure that my courses include writing, reading, critical thinking, politics, current events, and social issues such as feminism. These topics are raised for consideration and discussion, and linked to the more esoteric subject I teach.

I am continually shocked by how poorly college students write... and I don't just mean grammatical errors. I mean that they cannot express their meaning through their writing. This is why literature and composition MUST be taught in high school. You can't write well if you don't read well-written books and journals. And if you can't write well enough to express your thoughts or your argument, you won't succeed at many jobs.

The difficulty is in creating a replicable curriculum that combines all these topics: civics, ethics, history, government, and also demands reading, writing, and critical thinking. They are hard things to measure through standardized testing.

To be clear, I do think that college-bound students should still be very much encouraged (albeit not necessarily required) to take an English lit, and especially a comp course. But even in the comp courses I was required to take, literature/poetry seemed to be the real focus. And it'd be one thing if the literature had been more contemporary, but knowing the style and prose of middle english, romantic writers, or of poets--leave that for college or for a class treated more like a fine art in the high school curriculum requirements. I actually had to test out of a couple of semesters of failed English classes because instead of reading Shakespeare, Emily Dickinson, 'Once and Future King', 'Beowulf', or 'The Scarlet Letter', I was reading the collected works of Vonnegut and Sartre, and bits of Nietzsche, Dostoevsky, and Kafka...for fun.

But the truth is that most students don't even need very much English comp, if any at all. If they aren't college-bound, give them a core knowledge of Government/Economics/History (i.e. Civics), Math (esp. algebra, geometry, and trig), and a science education that focuses on transferrable vocational knowledge, mostly physics and chemistry. Merge biology and health under one umbrella for them. These are the kinds of students that will drive English lit teachers up the wall and prevent them from doing a better job with the students that might actually get something out of the course; they once made an English lit teacher of mine break down in tears in front of the class because she felt so completely helpless at doing her job given that she had to accomodate such disinterested students.

Edited by TheNiche
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I agree as well about interdisciplinary teaching and also not cutting corners in earlier education.

One of my undergraduate degrees is in Art History (UH) and I feel that and I learned the most and a lot of my general analytical skills were expanded because of it - even though I have experienced that some think arts are expendable.

That being said, I think that kind of outcome is possible in any subject and depends on the educator (like what sarahiki explained above about including other areas).

Discussions such as these are what keep me coming back to HAIF.

Critical thinking has fallen into disrepute. To possess an intellect, let alone pride in having one, is now considered 'elitist'. How much easier to toss around a few trite, hot-button phrases than to make a reasoned argument!

A few terms which (to me) indicate a writer who is lazy, imprecise and given to hackneyed expression:

Coddling criminals

Tax-and-spend

Liberal media

East-Coast (or Hollywood) elite

Washington bureaucrats

Bleeding heart

Leftist

Right-wing

Love it or leave it

Unless a writer can be more specific, these phrases only tell me how someone feels; they in no way express what someone thinks.

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I agree completely about the poor writing skills of today's graduates. As part of our interview we have a technical writing assignment, and usually reviewing that part is where we all get a good laugh. I think it goes way past college, all the way back to grammar classes up through 6th grade. I don't know if those classes are what they used to be.

Also, I had Civics in high school. It was fun. We did a mock trial exercise and learned about voting, elections, etc.

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This is one of the best topics I have ever seen on Haif. Clear to the point, well thought out & well written. Most of all makes perfect sense. Bravo!

There are numerous examples but one I would love to describe is of a recent event.

We have hired at least 2 - 20 something recent college grads. They only had maybe 2 yrs of experience in this particular work environment. Almost immediately after hiring they have made numerous comments or snickered of the old employees. Joke about how they dont know how to use various work tools like Powerpoint, Excel etc. Talk in a belittling style to most of the others, will be talking to you then suddenly a cell phone call and cut you off as they grab the phone and you become invisible. In meetings start playing online games while the speaker is pointing to the screen and trying to have everyone focused on the topic. Have a real swagger and cockiness and always brag about thier travels and how many awards they won. It goes on and on.

Its more of a serious desensitized or lack of any class or manners work place now. How did we create these little monsters? :angry2:

Edited by Vertigo58
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"Elitist" Now there is a word that is like some-one's nails being dragged across a chalkboard, to me. Because someone want to better themselves through education, and hard work, instead of just hard work, that term gets tossed around loosely, when in reality it should be stricken from the English language. It's nothing more than a negative insult, thrown about by those too lazy to come up with a way to express how they really feel. Which is if the truth be known, those that use the term, are nothing more than jealous of the person, to which it is hurled, and is a camouflage of sort, to hide the disappointment of the hurler, of their shortcomings. Whether it's hurled at education or intellect, or social status and wealth, it's cheap shot at trying to be insulting, and only reflect the hurlers own lack on content. And blogging and forums, (oh yes even HAIF), and texting, is killing the English language. LOL, IMHO, BFF, all this crap is taking over basic expression, and I can be as guilty as anyone. We are always in such a rush to get it done and move on to the next subject, that we have lost all ability to generate a common thought through the written word. Even the books that you see now days are just a tidbit anymore. Where did all the Mark Twain's and Jack London's of our time go to. All these Barnes and Noble literary waste generators, are just filling the shelves with crap, to rot your brain. Growing up without a television in your face all the time, reading was all we had as kids, to stimulate the imagination. Even the cheesy westerns of Louis L'Amour, open your mind to thought and dreaming. Someone used the term "Dumbing Down America", I think that pretty much sums it up. We have got to get our younger people back on track, with expressing the common thought through the written word. Life has got to be slowed down just enough, to be able to think things through, and catch all these issues in mid-stream, instead of letting them all pile up, and then come down on us all at once. Pretty soon there will nobody left to have a decent conversation with, much less an intelligent discussion. Jesus, I have hi-jacked my own thread. But none the less it's all interactive when it comes to education, or rather the lack of in some instances.

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A few terms which (to me) indicate a writer who is lazy, imprecise and given to hackneyed expression:

Coddling criminals

Tax-and-spend

Liberal media

East-Coast (or Hollywood) elite

Washington bureaucrats

Bleeding heart

Leftist

Right-wing

Love it or leave it

This is why I sometimes ask people to define words they use. The question forces the people to explain what they really mean. I.E. if I hear "I don't want this program because it's socialist" I would ask the person to define socialist.

Edited by VicMan
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Does anyone have any convincing evidence that this is a recent phenomenon? It seems to me that every generation has similar complaints about young people.

I would tend to agree with what you just said here, but would add that the perceived problem as the old fogeys on HAIF may interpret it is that college grads ain't what they used to be. And given the increase in the proportion of the population that attends college in this generation as compared with previous generations, I would imagine that the average IQ has slipped meaningfully, effectively devaluing the utility of a college degree in the eyes of prospective employers.

I have heard it said that "a master's degree is the new bachelor's degree;" I'm not convinced of that quite yet, though.

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I would tend to agree with what you just said here, but would add that the perceived problem as the old fogeys on HAIF may interpret it is that college grads ain't what they used to be. And given the increase in the proportion of the population that attends college in this generation as compared with previous generations, I would imagine that the average IQ has slipped meaningfully, effectively devaluing the utility of a college degree in the eyes of prospective employers.

I can definitely see that. Pushing more of the population through college doesn't increase average intelligence.

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Life has got to be slowed down just enough, to be able to think things through, and catch all these issues in mid-stream, instead of letting them all pile up, and then come down on us all at once. Pretty soon there will nobody left to have a decent conversation with, much less an intelligent discussion. Jesus, I have hi-jacked my own thread. But none the less it's all interactive when it comes to education, or rather the lack of in some instances.

Mark, you are so right. We have let the pace of life be our excuse for not taking the time to be mindful.

Heh, tv--- I went through a phase were I lived intentionally without a tv. Did it mainly just to see if I could. Despite people thinking I was either crazy, or a some sort of boorish public radio snob, I learned just how little value that device added to my life. I find that the older I get, the smaller my circle has gotten, and I place a premium on intelligent conversation often at the exclusion of other things. Quality over quantity, I suppose. The HAIF has allowed me to expand the circle a little, which is wonderful.

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Critical thinking has fallen into disrepute. To possess an intellect, let alone pride in having one, is now considered 'elitist'. How much easier to toss around a few trite, hot-button phrases than to make a reasoned argument!

Agreed. Even using certain words can get you looked at strangely, or negatively, or worse, even though they're perfectly correct words and well used in more educated circles. Think about the careers that have been threatened by words like "niggardly" or "tar baby" that uneducated people assume have meanings other than the correct ones. Too often we let loud, dumb people decide the fate of the smart ones. Not that long ago commercials would tout that their products are for "discriminating" customers. Not anymore, because of the fear that some dummy somewhere won't know what it means and be *offended*

Remember all the heat that Rumsfeld took over "known knowns" and "unknown knowns." He was pummeled for demonstrating high-level strategic thinking because the masses hadn't been exposed to it. Now the four-box of knowns and unknowns is part of everyday business strategy, catastrophe planning, and more. Yet society allows the loud, dumb people to beat up on the smart ones.

Also, many people don't seem to understand the difference between fact and opinion. I remember way back in elementary school we'd have days and weeks of workbook drills comparing written statements and having to choose if they were fact of opinion. I see little evidence that that sort of thing is taught anymore.

I have heard it said that "a master's degree is the new bachelor's degree;" I'm not convinced of that quite yet, though.

From what we've seen on Wall Street lately, the MBA is the new bachelor's degree! :lol:

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I can definitely see that. Pushing more of the population through college doesn't increase average intelligence.

This is getting to where I was going. In decades past, a far smaller percentage of the populace went to college, and worked in white collar jobs. As more people move into the white collar, or service sector, the average level of intelligence will decline. In some respects, it may only SEEM that young people are more disconnected because more young people are in the office buildings.

I read a study last year that suggested that only 44% of Americans (of all ages) can read an editorial and logically deduce the point the author was making. This is important news to politicians and the media. Over half of Americans cannot even figure out what an intelligent debate is about. They do not get the point. The winning politician, realizing this, will pepper his audience with words and phrases that his target audience thinks is bad. Once the association is made between his opponent and the bad word or phrase, no logic is needed. As a larger percentage of people with no logic skills enters the white collar world, it appears that the populace is getting dumber, when the reality is that we merely see them more often.

I believe some things exacerbate the problem. As the nation has become more prosperous, we have, as a group, become lazier. This is easy to quantify when it comes to physical laziness, as the numbers of overweight and obese people skyrockets, and diseases linked to sedentary lifestyles increases. But, we have also become intellectually lazy. We revel in our laziness. And, we pass that laziness on to our children. We even do it to our pets. It has been shown that dogs who are too regimented in their play, with agility training and other structured activities, are less inquisitive and therefore less intelligent than dogs who are allowed to roam and play in an unstructured manner. A dog who is allowed to get INTO mischief quickly learns how to GET OUT of mischief. The same thing happens with our children. Moms brag of shuttling their children to various activities, as if their child is so smart, when in reality, they are limiting the child's ability to think, to dream, to fantasize and solve problems. To use a term attributed to our president, we are encouraging a lack of "intellectual curiosity". Kids don't wonder "how things work" when they are playing 3 sports and going to birthday parties at Chuck-E-Cheeze.

It is interesting that our quest to make life better is contributing to our downfall. Wealth is not a bad thing. It allows us to purchase what we need to survive. College is not a bad thing, as it nurtures a quest for knowledge. Service sector jobs are less strenuous than manual labor. Yet, by advocating too strongly that everyone deserves to go to college, get a white collar job and become wealthy, we have upset an equilibrium, that existed, that some will run the factory and some will build the widget. Because we have demonized the middle class (not rhetorically, but in reality), because blue collar work is now considered underachievement, there are dwindling opportunities for the less intelligent to achieve.

Our young people are a product of their surroundings. As the adult population puts more emphasis on the accumulation of wealth and consumption, and less emphasis on research, education, and manufacturing, when it becomes more important to SELL it than build it, our youth begin to think the same way. When profit is more important than design, we adapt our thinking to maximize profit, and away from the engineering and design. As a country, putting all of our resources into "business" and less and less into manufacturing skews the national equilibrium. The middle class disappears. College grads work in cubicles playing with spreadsheets, without knowing what the numbers mean. Both the corporation and the worker of average intelligence suffer, as neither has the tools to do the work well.

You may have noticed that I have touched on many areas in explaining one initial problem, the apparent lack of intellectual curiosity in today's young people. The reason is that I believe it must be looked at holistically. One cannot look at young people in a vacuum. We cannot say, "look at what they've been given, and they have squandered it". WE have made them this way. WE have shown them that only wealth and over-consumption matters, then WE wonder what is wrong with them.

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I read a study last year that suggested that only 44% of Americans (of all ages) can read an editorial and logically deduce the point the author was making.

And chances are, the editorial is written to a 7th grade reading level.

I think one thing we're up against is the effect of educational trends that were popularized in the 70s and 80s (gold stars, unique and beautiful snowflakes, etc).

One simply does not learn rhetoric or logic by osmosis and cultural relativism. It's learned by practice.

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I may be getting off topic here, but I have a problem with students' attitude toward college. This is not a new thing; it was like this when I was in college too: going to class in pajamas, or flip-flops; showing up late; missing exams with a lame excuse... this is totally acceptable behavior at many colleges. I think it keeps students in an extended state of adolescence, at exactly the time they should be learning to be professional adults.

I am a professional with a Ph.D., and it makes me absolutely crazy to be sharing my expertise with someone who is lounging in his chair, flip-flops kicked off, computer open, and a solitaire game going. It's totally disrespectful. And it teaches the student nothing about professional conduct.

I guess I'm an old fart, but I'd like to see college students show up for class dressed in business casual, and behaving accordingly. I think they'd learn more.

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You may have noticed that I have touched on many areas in explaining one initial problem, the apparent lack of intellectual curiosity in today's young people. The reason is that I believe it must be looked at holistically. One cannot look at young people in a vacuum. We cannot say, "look at what they've been given, and they have squandered it". WE have made them this way. WE have shown them that only wealth and over-consumption matters, then WE wonder what is wrong with them.

I disagree that the problem is that we (as a society) have overemphasized wealth and consumption as priorities, though I think that over-consumption is symptomatic of a different problem.

Rather, I think that it is the promotion of the sense that everyone is entitled to an 'American Dream'. Not everyone is cut out to attend college, be a successful white-collar professional, to be a homeowner, to own a small business some day so that they can be their own boss, or to be able to afford a half-million dollars in cancer treatment so that they don't die a few years earlier than would otherwise be expected. These concepts are exceptionally alluring to most of the population, be they able and willing to accomplish these objectives or not.

The trouble as I see it is that American society has redefined the traditional sense of poverty, which formerly was living below subsistence...this is a far cry from contemporary concepts of poverty, where poorer people seem to be the most prone to obesity! Instead there is a sense of entitlement to something better than subsistence, on the grounds that everyone should have the same opportunities. College, home ownership, healthcare, retirement, all are increasingly considered opportunities (but actually as ends in and of themselves) that are necessary and as serving the social good. And in and of themselves, the concepts are important. However, as public policy has been adapted to this attitude so as to promote the concepts as something applying to more people than would otherwise have been the case (i.e. home ownership), we run up against reality and get ourselves into trouble.

Wealth and consumption should be a priority--for those who value it. They should have the opportunity to pursue it, but should be prepared to work their asses off to get what they want and not be under the impression that they are in any way shape or form entitled to it. And they may need to prepare themselves for being told that they aren't good enough; they are not a unique and special snowflake; and mommy won't always be there either as an advocate or as a safety net.

...incidentally, it is amazing the number of people from my generation that go back to live with their parents well into their late 20's!!!

EDIT: Way to go crunch! I see we're on the same page.

Edited by TheNiche
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Mark, you have reason for sleepless nights. What's more important nowadays is a pop stars latest tattoos/piercings, the latest video game/timewaster and the poor child's "feelings".

Every generation did/does address this issue but this very old fogey here saw a spiral downhill starting somewhere in the early to mid 60's. The water around the drain has been spinning faster and faster since the mid 80's.

It's called the dumbing down of America. What does it say when 85% of students cannot even locate Paris, France on a map and mark Indonesia or Australia as Greece?

Read it and weep.

Could You Have Passed the 8th Grade in 1895? or Are Schools Being Dumbed Down?

Probably Not

Edited by SchwinnChopper68
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I may be getting off topic here, but I have a problem with students' attitude toward college. This is not a new thing; it was like this when I was in college too: going to class in pajamas, or flip-flops; showing up late; missing exams with a lame excuse... this is totally acceptable behavior at many colleges. I think it keeps students in an extended state of adolescence, at exactly the time they should be learning to be professional adults.

I am a professional with a Ph.D., and it makes me absolutely crazy to be sharing my expertise with someone who is lounging in his chair, flip-flops kicked off, computer open, and a solitaire game going. It's totally disrespectful. And it teaches the student nothing about professional conduct.

Or maybe it prepares them for the best white collar jobs, where we get to wear pajamas and flip flops to work and keep a game of solitaire going for months. :)

It's called the dumbing down of America. What does it say when 85% of students cannot even locate Paris, France on a map and mark Indonesia or Australia as Greece?

Read it and weep.

Could You Have Passed the 8th Grade in 1895? or Are Schools Being Dumbed Down?

Then take a look at this Snopes article.

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Or maybe it prepares them for the best white collar jobs

Yes, yes a job. Just Over Broke. What pray tell prepares them to use their imagination, their vision, their inspiration, to be creative, to forge new businesses where no man has gone before or thought of before? (kudos to Cap'n Kirk) Yes, today it's all about me, me, me and job, job, job. What can your company do for me? Where did that pioneer spirit go? To forge ahead and build things on your own without a corporate daddy figure telling you what to do, what to think and what to believe? That's what I'm talking about but just like the type of women I prefer, they are not making those types any more.

Then take a look at this Snopes article.

I did, snopes did not say the article was fake, snopes merely in their own thinking stated they think what was important in 1895 is not important today. Correct me if I'm wrong.

The point being is the difficulty of the tests, not what the questions are about. I doubt very few "students" today need to know how to figure wheat bushels per metric ton. (but then on the other hand...) The gist of the article is the dumbing down of the average student over the years to where they are passed grade to grade because flunking would injure the "poor childs" self image.

Alas it is difficult to debate dumbing down with folks that believe dumbing down has not happened and is not occuring. For those types it's best to remain with their heads in the sand.

For those that think every generation is smarter and smarter, well...that's what makes America great..you are entitled to your opinion.

In my long sojourn on this rock revolving around an atom out in the middle of an backwoods, unknown galaxy among billions of galaxies I've come to accept that out of 6.7 billion souls on this spaceship that I inhabit, I vibrate a tuning fork with perhaps 20 or 30 of those souls. The rest are evolving their own agendas, lifestyles and ideas that are going in a 180 degree opposite direction. Out of those 20 or 30 I expect to bump into perhaps 2 or 3 of them if I am lucky before departing for frontiers unknown.

Edited by SchwinnChopper68
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I disagree that the problem is that we (as a society) have overemphasized wealth and consumption as priorities, though I think that over-consumption is symptomatic of a different problem.

Rather, I think that it is the promotion of the sense that everyone is entitled to an 'American Dream'. Not everyone is cut out to attend college, be a successful white-collar professional, to be a homeowner, to own a small business some day so that they can be their own boss, or to be able to afford a half-million dollars in cancer treatment so that they don't die a few years earlier than would otherwise be expected. These concepts are exceptionally alluring to most of the population, be they able and willing to accomplish these objectives or not.

The trouble as I see it is that American society has redefined the traditional sense of poverty, which formerly was living below subsistence...this is a far cry from contemporary concepts of poverty, where poorer people seem to be the most prone to obesity! Instead there is a sense of entitlement to something better than subsistence, on the grounds that everyone should have the same opportunities. College, home ownership, healthcare, retirement, all are increasingly considered opportunities (but actually as ends in and of themselves) that are necessary and as serving the social good. And in and of themselves, the concepts are important. However, as public policy has been adapted to this attitude so as to promote the concepts as something applying to more people than would otherwise have been the case (i.e. home ownership), we run up against reality and get ourselves into trouble.

Wealth and consumption should be a priority--for those who value it. They should have the opportunity to pursue it, but should be prepared to work their asses off to get what they want and not be under the impression that they are in any way shape or form entitled to it. And they may need to prepare themselves for being told that they aren't good enough; they are not a unique and special snowflake; and mommy won't always be there either as an advocate or as a safety net.

...incidentally, it is amazing the number of people from my generation that go back to live with their parents well into their late 20's!!!

EDIT: Way to go crunch! I see we're on the same page.

I agree wholeheartedly that the 'entitlement mentality' is a much more pronounced affliction of the upper middle class than the poor. It is simply defined as the 'American Dream' for that socio-economic class. I don't think redefining poverty is such a bad thing. More important is the redefinition of acceptable work and acceptable living, which is somewhat akin to what you are saying. It is in a society's interest to help the poor become productive, as a productive member of society is at once not a burdern, and also a contributor to the economy. So, free welfare (a fish) is not helpful, yet aid while getting training or education (learning to fish) is helpful.

By the same token, singleminded fixation on wealth and consumption may not be bad for a few. When an entire society fixates on it, and worse, sees it as an entitlement, the equilibrium is upset. I believe that this is where we are at, that everyone thinks they can...and should be...rich, and is spending like they already are. This collective greed has caused problems in virtually every sector of society, from corporations run for short term gains, to an abhorrence of blue collar work, to outlandish debt by those who wish to have the trappings of wealth before they achieve wealth, to decisions by young people to go into business majors, rather than science and engineering, to a general shift in society's priorities.

Like a dog that has gotten a taste of blood, I do not know if we can go back to the days of old. How do you convince an entire society that more austere living, with a focus on less consumption driven pursuits is better for society, and therefore for them personally? How do you convince a society that a depression could actually be good for them if they use it to change their focus? I do not know that it can be done in a free society, and I do not advocate reducation camps.

Edited by RedScare
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I may be getting off topic here, but I have a problem with students' attitude toward college. This is not a new thing; it was like this when I was in college too: going to class in pajamas, or flip-flops; showing up late; missing exams with a lame excuse... this is totally acceptable behavior at many colleges. I think it keeps students in an extended state of adolescence, at exactly the time they should be learning to be professional adults.

I am a professional with a Ph.D., and it makes me absolutely crazy to be sharing my expertise with someone who is lounging in his chair, flip-flops kicked off, computer open, and a solitaire game going. It's totally disrespectful. And it teaches the student nothing about professional conduct.

I guess I'm an old fart, but I'd like to see college students show up for class dressed in business casual, and behaving accordingly. I think they'd learn more.

I'm not so much on board with this for much the same reason as RedScare hit on earlier with structured vs. unstructured learning. College is to some extent about learning and exploiting your own abilities and also about testing your limitations, sometimes reaping the consequences.

I took several courses in college that were in subjects that I found out through trial and error that I was highly disinterested in, including Communications, Accounting, and Architecture. And I've always been terrible at Math courses because I know that all I have to do is invest enough time in mundane practice and that I would do well, only to prove to someone who doesn't care that I could do it, meet minimum objectives, and advance to the next level, all without necessarily picking up transferrable knowledge. These weren't terribly difficult courses, but anything that I encountered that either wasn't challenging enough or that wasn't interesting enough was a course that I'd end up doing poorly in, basically for lack of motivation. And that would be my signal that such a field would be a good thing not to major or minor in. And I'll readily admit that I ran up against some walls even fulfilling the core curriculum, basically for lack of interest in the subject matter. I do hate being put in a position to jump hurdles as though I were living out a dog show; nevertheless, I'd admit in hindsight that running up against my own weaknesses--in one form or another--provided insight into myself and built character.

The fact is that by any objective measure, I was a terrible student. You'd have probably hated me! I worked an engaging full-time job, sometimes including overtime, and therefore was frequently late, absent, or had to leave early. I often worked so late that I'd sleep through nearly all of my morning classes, if I had any. And I've been so cheap as to borrow an out-of-date textbook from the library for a class that allowed open-book tests. I've never been crazy about homework, especially if it is time-consuming, mundane, and does nothing in and of itself to advance my knowledge, so that'd drive some professors up the wall and count against my GPA...not that I particularly cared because I knew that the network that I was cultivating within my industry would exempt me from the rigors of a traditional hiring process wherein GPA mattered.

Nevertheless, those classes and professors in which I've taken an interest have been richly rewarded. Nobody was so willing and able to challenge (or even to aggressively combat) their assumptions or to bring in external experience and analogy as I was. A former department head tried to get me into a Ph.D program; another has vouched for me as I've tried to hit on women; another has promised me a guest lecture if I should ever be willing to give it. Yet there are way...way more professors at UH that would think that these ones are crazy. ...you'd probably have been one of them.

And I'd bet that from the content and structure of my posts here on HAIF, you'd never have guessed at my collegiate habits.

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I agree wholeheartedly that the 'entitlement mentality' is a much more pronounced affliction of the upper middle class than the poor. It is simply defined as the 'American Dream' for that socio-economic class. I don't think redefining poverty as such a bad thing. More important is the redefinition of acceptable work and acceptable living, which is somewhat akin to what you are saying. It is in a society's interest to help the poor become productive, as a productive member of society is at once not a burdern, and also a contributor to the economy. So, free welfare (a fish) is not helpful, yet aid while getting training or education (learning to fish) is helpful.

By the same token, singleminded fixation on wealth and consumption may not be bad for a few. When an entire society fixates on it, and worse, sees it as an entitlement, the equilibrium is upset. I believe that this is where we are at, that everyone thinks they can...and should be...rich, and is spending like they already are. This collective greed has caused problems in virtually every sector of society, from corporations run for short term gains, to an abhorrence of blue collar work, to outlandish debt by those who wish to have the trappings of wealth before they achieve wealth, to decisions by young people to go into business majors, rather than science and engineering, to a general shift in socirty's priorities.

Like a dog that has gotten a taste of blood, I do not know if we can go back to the days of old. How do you convince an entire society that more austere living, with a focus on less consumption driven pursuits is better for society, and therefore for them personally? How do you convince a society that a depression could actually be good for them if they use it to change their focus? I do not know that it can be done in a free society, and I do not advocate reducation camps.

Whether or not we can go back to the days of old, may or may not be by choice, the way we are going. If we don't get things back on track, we may be forced to by necessity of survival. Which makes me wonder, would people be able to survive going backward. Ike gave us a brief glimpse of the way it use to be, no air conditioning, no television, very limited luxuries available, even running water for some. Makes you think a little bit, how things have really changed. But then think about all those days, where you had to find other ways to entertain yourself, or come up with ways to make things more comfortable. Your mind was actually functioning at a higher level, your senses were at red alert levels. You were actually living life, instead of life living you. Having to sit and think for a change, instead of vegetating in from of a television.

Speaking in regards to television, the television, in my opinion, has bastardized generations good people into blindered zombies. Their everyday way of think is shape and manipulated by the media and context has been so blurred and distorted by television, and I'm not saying news media, just television in general. Look at the onslaught of so called "reality shows" that are anything but reality. People buy into this manufactured "reality", and soon become crippled mentally and are unable to differentiate between truth and non-truth. We've been fitted for blinders from reality, by the distraction of distorted context, of everyday life. I know this sounds hypocritical coming from a full blown news junkie, that has a multi-screen media center in his office, so I can monitor all the different channels at once, but I think television has become more harmful than helpful. It's a crutch for some of us to get away from what's really bothering us in the world, but the irony of it all, as in my case, television being the bane source of the issue, and yet monitoring the distorted reality of the world, through the news, somehow gives me a false sense of peace. Sometimes I think I should have volunteered for some of Timothy Leary's isolation tank experiments. It's a tangled web we weave.

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I'm not so much on board with this for much the same reason as RedScare hit on earlier with structured vs. unstructured learning. College is to some extent about learning and exploiting your own abilities and also about testing your limitations, sometimes reaping the consequences.

I took several courses in college that were in subjects that I found out through trial and error that I was highly disinterested in, including Communications, Accounting, and Architecture. And I've always been terrible at Math courses because I know that all I have to do is invest enough time in mundane practice and that I would do well, only to prove to someone who doesn't care that I could do it, meet minimum objectives, and advance to the next level, all without necessarily picking up transferrable knowledge. These weren't terribly difficult courses, but anything that I encountered that either wasn't challenging enough or that wasn't interesting enough was a course that I'd end up doing poorly in, basically for lack of motivation. And that would be my signal that such a field would be a good thing not to major or minor in. And I'll readily admit that I ran up against some walls even fulfilling the core curriculum, basically for lack of interest in the subject matter. I do hate being put in a position to jump hurdles as though I were living out a dog show; nevertheless, I'd admit in hindsight that running up against my own weaknesses--in one form or another--provided insight into myself and built character.

The fact is that by any objective measure, I was a terrible student. You'd have probably hated me! I worked an engaging full-time job, sometimes including overtime, and therefore was frequently late, absent, or had to leave early. I often worked so late that I'd sleep through nearly all of my morning classes, if I had any. And I've been so cheap as to borrow an out-of-date textbook from the library for a class that allowed open-book tests. I've never been crazy about homework, especially if it is time-consuming, mundane, and does nothing in and of itself to advance my knowledge, so that'd drive some professors up the wall and count against my GPA...not that I particularly cared because I knew that the network that I was cultivating within my industry would exempt me from the rigors of a traditional hiring process wherein GPA mattered.

Nevertheless, those classes and professors in which I've taken an interest have been richly rewarded. Nobody was so willing and able to challenge (or even to aggressively combat) their assumptions or to bring in external experience and analogy as I was. A former department head tried to get me into a Ph.D program; another has vouched for me as I've tried to hit on women; another has promised me a guest lecture if I should ever be willing to give it. Yet there are way...way more professors at UH that would think that these ones are crazy. ...you'd probably have been one of them.

And I'd bet that from the content and structure of my posts here on HAIF, you'd never have guessed at my collegiate habits.

Well, I don't think that's fair. I am respectful of all my students and I recognize the challenges they face, including work and family.

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Well, I don't think that's fair. I am respectful of all my students and I recognize the challenges they face, including work and family.

That my working during college took priority was not a challenge, and I hope that I did not come across as having framed it as such! I never sought pity for it. My priorities were a strategic decision--one that I neither regret or apologize for.

Some professors I could tell were personally insulted by my behavior or approach...though few had the courage to bring it up directly. Others understood that they were only service providers and that I was only a consumer. They respected me for pursuing my own interests, insofar as I had a sense of what I wanted and how I was going to get there. The same thing goes for the very best of my teachers from high school.

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I agree with most things in this thread, from nurturing vs. pampering our children to the changing work ethics. I've noticed these things since college. I was an engineering major, and 90% of the kids in my classes got by on having previous years' exams and homework results (complete with answers of course). They could not learn without them. I was one of only a handful that just did my assignments on my own. They would actually whine when it was a new teacher/course for which they couldn't get old papers. Annoying.

This sense of lazy entitlement has started to show up at work as well. Employees for which I do performance reviews are constantly whining and expecting things they have not yet earned. They want special recognition and rewards for simply doing their job requirement, they are not even close to achieving anything I would classify as above or beyond.

I can only hope that I am able to raise my children to appreciate REAL hard work and a sense of earning things instead of being entitled to them.

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Foreigners are always looking for any excuse to go on a rant about Americans. Any little tiny bit of leverage they get to throw you off, they'll use.

But there is still something to it. Here's my take:

-- specialization (leave the governing to the government, and the living to me)

-- waaaay too many egomaniacs to really get anything decent done

-- zero government decisions are made on behalf of the public interest anymore, and what used to belong to the public is being transferred to private ownership (which was *never* the case) and there's this "learned helplessness" that results among the remaining few who actually care

-- end result is this concept (by my own estimation, somewhat common among non-egomaniacs) of "living in a foreign country"...kind of a 'don't blame me, I just live here' type of thing. Stuff just happens and I don't have anything to do with any of it. I just do what I can until I can't.

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Nevertheless, those classes and professors in which I've taken an interest have been richly rewarded. Nobody was so willing and able to challenge (or even to aggressively combat) their assumptions or to bring in external experience and analogy as I was. A former department head tried to get me into a Ph.D program; another has vouched for me as I've tried to hit on women; another has promised me a guest lecture if I should ever be willing to give it.

Oh, Niche, I just knew that if I perservered through that post, I'd get to the payoff! Challenging the PhDs, whew! ;) What a maverick!

Seriously, you ought to take them up on the guest lecture thing. You could make a whole pittance as an adjunct, and shape young, bored minds. Cap'n Crunch is actually going back to teaching a class or two, next semester, I think. I don't want to blow your story, but I've seen some of those UH department heads in action, all liquored up. Ewwww. Hopefully you graduated to another wingman.

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Man we had a meeting on schools last night at Phil's Roadhouse, and the topic of who's fault is was kids are not doing as well as other countries. Someone stood up and blamed the schools, and then two teachers, one being my wife, who were present started to defend that, and one of the local town idiots spouted off at my wife, that it's always easier to blame the parents. Well that's when I took the floor and held a little court. I do find it easy to blame the parents. It's first the responsibility of the parent to instill the basics in their children. And Civic Duty is one of those moral issues, that I feel IMHO that most kids are lacking these days. I raised six kids to know their country, and how it works. To understand right and wrong, accept the fact that there things in life that will always disappoint you, but to never to use that as a crutch or excuse to fail. I allowed them the opportunity to make tough decisions in life, but always provided them a safety net, just in case the made the wrong one, but that safety net always came with stipulations that they fully understand the consequences of their actions. It's not the schools purpose to raise your kids, it's not their purpose to train them, it's their purpose to provide them with the means to get a good education, and it's the responsibility of the child to get one. It's the responsibility of the parent to instill the incentive and willingness to go and get that education, to study hard and achieve. It is the responsibility of the parent to support these kids teachers, and it the responsibility of teachers to inspire the kids to achieve. Not misdirect them with personal opinion and conjecture. There are good teachers, there are bad teachers, and then there are great teachers. Teaching is an art, it's a passion, not everyone is cut out to be one. And there are some that really shouldn't be. I think to be a great teachers, civic mindedness is a must. It works hand in hand with what they are doing to begin with.

Man I hate stupid people.....

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This is true:

I was listeneing to a local talk radio station this moring.........you know the one. A caller was commenting on how unpatriotic today's generation is. He went on about how our troops fought against communism and socialism during World War II and that we should be thankful for them for saving the world from Marxist control.

The talk show host let him go on without correcting him and thanked him for his call and for being such a true patriot.

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Man we had a meeting on schools last night at Phil's Roadhouse, and the topic of who's fault is was kids are not doing as well as other countries. Someone stood up and blamed the schools, and then two teachers, one being my wife, who were present started to defend that, and one of the local town idiots spouted off at my wife, that it's always easier to blame the parents. Well that's when I took the floor and held a little court. I do find it easy to blame the parents. It's first the responsibility of the parent to instill the basics in their children. And Civic Duty is one of those moral issues, that I feel IMHO that most kids are lacking these days. I raised six kids to know their country, and how it works. To understand right and wrong, accept the fact that there things in life that will always disappoint you, but to never to use that as a crutch or excuse to fail. I allowed them the opportunity to make tough decisions in life, but always provided them a safety net, just in case the made the wrong one, but that safety net always came with stipulations that they fully understand the consequences of their actions. It's not the schools purpose to raise your kids, it's not their purpose to train them, it's their purpose to provide them with the means to get a good education, and it's the responsibility of the child to get one. It's the responsibility of the parent to instill the incentive and willingness to go and get that education, to study hard and achieve. It is the responsibility of the parent to support these kids teachers, and it the responsibility of teachers to inspire the kids to achieve. Not misdirect them with personal opinion and conjecture. There are good teachers, there are bad teachers, and then there are great teachers. Teaching is an art, it's a passion, not everyone is cut out to be one. And there are some that really shouldn't be. I think to be a great teachers, civic mindedness is a must. It works hand in hand with what they are doing to begin with.

Man I hate stupid people.....

Hear, hear... to all of that. I'm glad we agree on something, Mark!

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Hear, hear... to all of that. I'm glad we agree on something, Mark!

Once this election is over Sara, you will find we probably have a lot more common ground than you know. I lean right, not fall on my face right. I consider myself a midstream conservative. But I also have many things that my far right brethren totally disagree with. On the surface Red and I thrash at each other, in what I call a gentleman's jousting match, but deep down there is a lot of common ground we can find peace with. See I fully understand Red gets a perspective on life that some of us never get to see a lot of, being the top flight Barrister, as he most certainly is. And most of it is from one extreme to another, and I admire that.

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This is true:

I was listeneing to a local talk radio station this moring.........you know the one. A caller was commenting on how unpatriotic today's generation is. He went on about how our troops fought against communism and socialism during World War II and that we should be thankful for them for saving the world from Marxist control.

The talk show host let him go on without correcting him and thanked him for his call and for being such a true patriot.

I am totally supportive of Mark too. Completely.

The lack of morality & patriotism is something that continues to grow like a cancer. On any given night or day just click on the TV/radio/internet and all you see are parody's/satires and down right slander of the ones we are supposed to look up to. If we were in 1940's war time and you even made a slur on the president of the US you would probably would get a real a... kicking and well deserved, not to mention be marked a communist. I wish we had some war time vets on this forum to give their 2 cents worth. They are the ones that went thru hell to save this country. How do you think they feel to see & hear all this 60 yrs later. Most people know the reaon most other countries hate us is because of the loose morals and dress code, etc. Could write a book. Mark for President! :)

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I am totally supportive of Mark too. Completely.

The lack of morality & patriotism is something that continues to grow like a cancer. On any given night or day just click on the TV/radio/internet and all you see are parody's/satires and down right slander of the ones we are supposed to look up to. If we were in 1940's war time and you even made a slur on the president of the US you would probably would get a real a... kicking and well deserved, not to mention be marked a communist. I wish we had some war time vets on this forum to give their 2 cents worth. They are the ones that went thru hell to save this country. How do you think they feel to see & hear all this 60 yrs later. Most people know the reaon most other countries hate us is because of the loose morals and dress code, etc. Could write a book. Mark for President! :)

Seems like this thread has diverged into two different directions. One is about people not understanding the mechanisms and theory of civics. The other is about the practice of civics and it is being posed as a normative discussion, with several people frustrated basically by people that don't subscribe to a concept of manners that they approve of.

If I may say so, the latter discussion is kind of petty. What does anybody care that someone likes to wear sandals, t-shirts, or shorts? Seriously, how does that diminish your quality of life any more than it adds to theirs? As for patriotism or for showing respect to elected officials, its my personal belief that they should receive all the scrutiny and cynicism that we as a people can muster. At the same time, I think that we need to pay politicians more. As it is, we only seem to get wealthy people willing to pay for an office where they have to take crap from everyone, and it just doesn't seem to be very conducive to either encouraging the most competent people to run for office or at keeping them from being tempted to abuse the powers of their office for material gain. And yes, that means that I'd advocate throwing away the notion of the civic-minded statesman in favor of someone only seeking a job that pays well with career advancement opportunities...but only because our current lot of civic-minded statesmen don't seem to work out very well for us.

And frankly, I refuse to look up to someone. When I'm sitting across the table from men whose net worth is in the eight digits, who tell stories about the massive deals they've done, the positions of power they've held, and so on and so forth, I'm not going to treat them any differently than I do my long-haired pot-smoking bass-playing philosophy-majoring friend from back in high school if he were in the room. They're both only human and I am only myself. They can like me or dislike me. It's their prerogative. And a lot of people really don't like me. So what? And to the extent that this applies to foreign perceptions of the United States...so what? Are they going to bomb us? Fine, we'll bomb them back. But we shouldn't change for them, nor should they expect us to.

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I am totally supportive of Mark too. Completely.

The lack of morality & patriotism is something that continues to grow like a cancer. On any given night or day just click on the TV/radio/internet and all you see are parody's/satires and down right slander of the ones we are supposed to look up to. If we were in 1940's war time and you even made a slur on the president of the US you would probably would get a real a... kicking and well deserved, not to mention be marked a communist. I wish we had some war time vets on this forum to give their 2 cents worth. They are the ones that went thru hell to save this country. How do you think they feel to see & hear all this 60 yrs later. Most people know the reaon most other countries hate us is because of the loose morals and dress code, etc. Could write a book. Mark for President! :)

My whole point was that the talk show host was so supportive of the caller and his patriotism position that he failed to notice that the facts were all wrong. Our troops fought Facism and Nazism in Word War II. The "Communists", if you remember, happened to be our allies durng that war.

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"Elitist" Now there is a word that is like some-one's nails being dragged across a chalkboard, to me. Because someone want to better themselves through education, and hard work, instead of just hard work, that term gets tossed around loosely, when in reality it should be stricken from the English language. It's nothing more than a negative insult, thrown about by those too lazy to come up with a way to express how they really feel. Which is if the truth be known, those that use the term, are nothing more than jealous of the person, to which it is hurled, and is a camouflage of sort, to hide the disappointment of the hurler, of their shortcomings. Whether it's hurled at education or intellect, or social status and wealth, it's cheap shot at trying to be insulting, and only reflect the hurlers own lack on content. And blogging and forums, (oh yes even HAIF), and texting, is killing the English language. LOL, IMHO, BFF, all this crap is taking over basic expression, and I can be as guilty as anyone. We are always in such a rush to get it done and move on to the next subject, that we have lost all ability to generate a common thought through the written word. Even the books that you see now days are just a tidbit anymore. Where did all the Mark Twain's and Jack London's of our time go to. All these Barnes and Noble literary waste generators, are just filling the shelves with crap, to rot your brain. Growing up without a television in your face all the time, reading was all we had as kids, to stimulate the imagination. Even the cheesy westerns of Louis L'Amour, open your mind to thought and dreaming. Someone used the term "Dumbing Down America", I think that pretty much sums it up. We have got to get our younger people back on track, with expressing the common thought through the written word. Life has got to be slowed down just enough, to be able to think things through, and catch all these issues in mid-stream, instead of letting them all pile up, and then come down on us all at once. Pretty soon there will nobody left to have a decent conversation with, much less an intelligent discussion. Jesus, I have hi-jacked my own thread. But none the less it's all interactive when it comes to education, or rather the lack of in some instances.

I would have to agree. Use of terms like "elitist" have the effect of saying a lot more about the speaker than the subject. What it tends to say is that the speaker has a chip on his shoulder and is resentful of those who are better educated or whatnot. To be perfectly blunt, it's the verbal equivalent of tattooing an "L" on your forehead.

loser.jpg

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I am totally supportive of Mark too. Completely.

The lack of morality & patriotism is something that continues to grow like a cancer. On any given night or day just click on the TV/radio/internet and all you see are parody's/satires and down right slander of the ones we are supposed to look up to. If we were in 1940's war time and you even made a slur on the president of the US you would probably would get a real a... kicking and well deserved, not to mention be marked a communist. I wish we had some war time vets on this forum to give their 2 cents worth. They are the ones that went thru hell to save this country. How do you think they feel to see & hear all this 60 yrs later. Most people know the reaon most other countries hate us is because of the loose morals and dress code, etc. Could write a book. Mark for President! :)

I wouldn't think most other countries hate us, but if they did it would hardly be because of "loose morals and dress code". Others may not admire our culture, but there are more substantive issues at stake.

I would also very much have to disagree with your assertion that satirizing the president somehow amounts to a lack of morality and patriotism. Pick up a history book - one of the founding precepts of America was freedom of speech, including slurring kings and presidents. It strikes me as an extremely shallow interpretation of patriotism to think it means not criticizing those "we are supposed to look up to". "Supposed to look up to" according to whom? Whom I choose to look up to is my own choice.

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