Saturday, June 4, 2016

Donald Trump and the last decades of American education

I don't usually include politics in these posts. There's so much discussion online and most of us have made our decisions. But I've been thinking about the phenomenon that is Donald Trump and wanted to share a thought I've been having. For about 20 years (1974-1994), I was a college professor and I watched the level of preparedness of college freshmen sink lower and lower. I taught French for a decade and then taught composition and writing. I saw the knowledge of geography disappear. I heard from students that they had never had a class in anything that resembled Civics, antyhing that gave them an understanding of our government, how it works, where it came from. The history of immigration, of Civil Rights, Women's Rights, nothing. This was true at all three places: a big state university in Oregon, a small state college in Virginia, a private college in Pennsylvania. The students at all three knew less and less about much of anything. Many of them also read very little and wrote poorly. And they were still college students who would most likely graduate. It's one of the reasons I left the profession.

I see Trump as a consequence of this. When we don't read, we don't know what's true or real. When we haven't learned to reason critically and question the words of others and their motivation, we fall prey to fear and panic. In a way, we are all responsible for where we've come to. Yikes!

1 comment:

Phil Freyder said...

Jill, it appears that school curricula and teachers' authority have been gutted over the decades since we finished our BAs. You're not the first person I've read who has pointed to this sickening process. How did it happen? Has the dumbing down of American youth been the result of a deliberated strategy to foster generations of ignorant, submissive pencil pushers to serve the corporate masters--they who have been busy erasing democracy and building corporatocracy?