Now We Know Why Children Are Getting Dumber

A great scientific mystery has been solved.

A great scientific mystery has been solved. It happened the weekend before Election Day, so you might not have heard about it amid all the campaign noise. Good news: Now's your chance to catch up!

Here's the mystery: Why, you probably have been wondering, are young people today so dumb—especially compared to people of earlier generations? After all, when those of us in The Middle Years (or even older) were in our teens and twenties, we knew utterly everything, whereas the Youth of Today know almost nothing. This holds true despite the fact that they can look up anything almost instantly, whereas those of us who came along before wireless Internet access had to acquire knowledge by any number of arduous means, including walking to the library or even, if all else failed, asking an Old Person for help.

You could chalk up this perceived state of affairs to the habit people have of thinking everything was better back when they were young, except for one depressing fact. During the past four decades education spending per pupil has shot up, class sizes have shrunk, and yet test scores have stayed flatter than a 10-cent pancake.

What gives?

Finally we know the answer. Earlier this month scientists announced three new elements had been named: Darmstadtium, Roentgenium, and Copernicium.  The elements are man-made and can exist only under laboratory conditions. This is is like Newton's apple: It explains so much.

Back in your humble servant’s school days, the Periodic Table had only 11 elements: hydrogen, oxygen, carbon, nitrogen, metal (magnetic), metal (non-magnetic), plastic, and I forget the other three. Chemistry class consisted of Mr. Storck dropping things into a cup of liquid nitrogen and smashing them with his shoe. Biology, taught by Mr. Haas, consisted of watching film strips from the 1950s about people with elephantiasis and guinea worm. Nobody took physics because it hadn't been invented yet.

(Film strips, by the way, were a cutting-edge multimedia pedagogical tool that were going to revolutionize classroom instruction and turn every child into a rocket scientist. Just like laptops and tablet PCs are doing today!)

Point is, back then nobody learned much science because there was not much to learn. Nobody had heard of quarks or pulsars or gene sequencing or dark matter—let alone later discoveries like Cylons, Ferengi, or Decepticons. (It was a simpler time, but people were happy then.) So passing your science test was a breeze. Science fairs? Same deal. Build a papier-mache volcano, toss in some baking powder and vinegar, and collect your gold star. Easy-peasy.

Nowadays, they won't even let you into the science fair unless your research into Calvin-Benson cycle catalysts for artificial photosynthesis is drawing venture-capital offers from private-equity firms.

Same for history: They just keep making more of it. For the WWII generation, the Great Depression wasn't history, it was current events. They didn't have to learn about the civil-rights movement or Vietnam or Watergate or Reaganomics because none of that had happened yet. Today's pupils not only have to learn all that more recent history, they will soon be learning the history of 9/11, the Iraq War, and the Obama administration. And the cohort after that? Good luck to them, because they're going to need it.

Ditto English. Great writers from Clive Cussler to Danielle Steele keep cranking out new masterpieces. Every year the major dictionary publishers add new words (retweet, tinfoil hat, cryonaut) and eliminate obsolete ones (aerodrome, cassette tape, literacy). Even the rules of grammar keep changing, as The Onion reported a while back: "The U.S. Grammar Guild Monday announced that no more will traditional grammar rules English follow. Instead there will a new form of organizing sentences be."

By contrast, math is the one area of study where people don't keep making more of it. Once mathematicians proved there are transfinite numbers—numbers bigger than infinity—there was really nowhere else to go. Nothing left for math to do but sit back and rest on its laurels. If anything, math is moving in the opposite direction from other academic disciplines: The best mathematicians are busy solving old puzzlers, like Fermat's last theorem. Know what that means? It means math is getting easier over time, not harder.

Don't believe it? Just look at the most recent NAEP test scores. Reading scores are down. Math scores are up. Case closed!

A. Barton Hinkle is a columnist at the Richmond Times-Dispatch, where this article originally appeared.

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  • Sparky||

    Alt text: And that's when they realized the witch was right behind them...

  • ||

    "A candid shot from Paul Krugman's third grade yearbook"

  • Almanian||

    It's the cover for the modern short story

    "The Boy Who Denied Keynesian Theory"

  • T||

    I actually had this conversation in college with my thermodynamics professor. He pointed out that the things we were getting taught as undergraduates were what they were teaching him in grad school. The body of human knowledge expands, and what you have to know to be even marginally competent in a field expands with it. It's why few engineers graduate in 4 years anymore.

  • ||

    There used to be something called a "Renaissance Man" this was a person who was an expert (in the true sense of the word) in several fields - this was very possible - during the Renaissance. Today it would be virtually impossible to know everything there is to know in Physics and Zoology and Mathematics and Chemistry and History and .....

  • robc||

    Erasmus is supposedly the last man to have read every published book. Or some shit like that.

  • ||

    Even he probably only skimmed a few of them.

  • Supreme Generalissimo Fluffy||

    That was easier to do after the Christians burned the library at Alexandria.

    BOO YAA FLUFFY STARTIN FIGHTS AS ALWAYS

  • k2000k||

    Wasn't the burned in 48 BC? Oh those pesky Christians and their time travel.

  • ||

    The library at Alexandria was burned several times, the last time by the Muslim caliph Umar, who famously remarked, when told that his troops were about to burn the books in the library, "If the books contain wisdom, the Qur'an contains all the wisdom we require, and their wisdom is not needed; if the books do not contain wisdom, they are not needed. Hence, let it burn."

  • Supreme Generalissimo Fluffy||

    Yes, I know.

    Since as Bill points out, the library was burned many times, you can single out quite a few groups as "responsible" for the destruction of the Alexandria library.

    That was why I said I was starting fights. We've fought about this here before. Interminably.

  • Rupert Giles||

    Dammit Buffy, why did you have to destroy my library?!

  • Leave me alone||

    Because....???

  • Leave me alone||

    Skewing the historical record and misrepresenting facts in a "plausible" way is exaclty what different groups do from the left and the right to promote a political agenda or cultural/social ideology. It is despicable.

  • Richard Head||

    The assholes here seem to think they know everything.

  • Almanian||

    Oh, SNAP!

  • ||

    If you follow Baldassrare Castiglione literally, you need to be an expert archer and a bunch of other things I could care less about.

    But I agree the concept of "l'uomo universalis" is a joke now.

    It doesn't help how the humanities continuosly gets chastised as "useless" in education; especially among fake conservatives like Beck and the like.

    It drives me crazy to see people in serious positions know little about the world around them - and its past.

  • Leave me alone||

    The problem with education, and I am saying this as a former educator, is that our current system tells students what to think, not how to think.

    Reasoning and logic skills are all that are needed to be able to tackle various topics and become a "Renaissance Man." The problem is not that we now have too much knowledge, the problem is that students aren't being taught critical thinking.

    That is why reading skills are in the toilet, the amount of critical thinking skills needed to comprehend what one reads and be able to read difficult material is very high. But, once you can read well, the world is at your fingertips.

    That said, my husband is an engineer and I do think that as an undergrad he did recieve a great education. His problem solving skills are innate, but he was also challenged to further develop his critical thinking skills in his classes.

  • robc||

    There is some truth to this.

    In the past, engineers learned drafting and moving into the computer age -- CAD/CAM.

    But by the time I was in school in the late 80s, those courses had all been crammed into one "Engineering Graphics" course. Those kind of skills were handled by techs -- if you needed to learn them, you learned them on the job.

  • ||

    However, the organization of the material often improves as time goes on so that it's easier to learn quickly.

    For instance, I always like to remind students that the stuff we do in chapter 2 on limits actually was invented a couple of centuries after the stuff in chapter 3 on derivatives. Yet the way we present it makes it appear that you learn limits first and then derivatives, which is a much better way to learn it than whatever they did in the 1700s before Cauchy cleaned up Newton's mess.

  • ||

    It amuses me that you teach students. How do you deal with trying to not bore them to death, which must be a real problem for you? The last thing you need, I imagine, is an involuntary manslaughter charge.

  • PermaLurker||

    Consequences which are foreseeable are not unintended.

  • ||

    2nd degree murder, then?

  • PermaLurker||

    Well, he continues to teach so it's definitely premeditated.

  • ||

    They usually drop the course long before they reach lethal boredom levels.

    The smart ones bring a pillow and an alarm clock to lecture just in case.

  • ||

    If they kill you, it's an automatic F.

  • ||

    This is my case for expanding med school to 5 years, or possibly integrating it into undergrad. The current edition of Robbins Pathological Basis of Disease is almost twice as thick as the edition in 2000-2001.

  • JD||

    You don't learn anything usefu the first two years of medical school. Just get it over with and move on to clinics where you actually learn a bit that will be useful in residency and later.

    Leave the science to the real scientists.

  • JoshEpi||

    Do that and you will be an idiot PA or NP following cook book medicine and without the ability to think through pathology and pathophysiology. Learn all you can your first two years. Plus, acing Step 1 is worth something like a few million dollars in differential pay and it is all about the first two years.

    We could do away with undergrad requirements like the Europeans and Indians.

  • ||

    yeah, and who do i want working on me - the one who just wanted to get it over with, or the one who studied and learned? hmmmm.

  • JD the elder||

    There's some truth to that, but it doesn't explain everything. I mean, Maxwell was doing his work in the mid-1800s, but I still couldn't really grasp most of what he was doing despite having about 150 years on him. The idea that that's supposed to be strictly undergrad stuff is not comforting.

    Still, there's this:
    arXiv vs. snarXiv
    Even if you are very up on your science, it's still really damn difficult to even know what a real physics paper might be titled these days...

  • DK||

    The point is that no one in the time of Maxwell could understand what Maxwell was doing. Today, undergrads can get a fairly good understanding of EM from Maxwell's equations. Hell, a good undergraduate physics curriculum will almost certainly expose students to a covariant field tensor formulation derived from special relativity, something Maxwell himself could not have understood.

    I liked the website. Having a PhD in physics only helps a bit here, as all of the topics are way outside my little world of condensed matter. You can get some insight, though. Clearly a paper titled "a calculable formulation of quantum gravity" would be a pretty big deal and I'd likely have heard of it looking through science news articles. Thus, not an article.

  • Gray Ghost||

    Thanks for the link. Distinguishing them's a lot tougher than I expected.

  • ||

    Without looking up key phrases on Google, I was staying around the 50% mark; using Google for some quick checks, it improved to about 65%.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    "why few engineers graduate in 4 years anymore"

    Engineering should take three to four years, with some of that time being trained within the career. The publicly funded higher education system has incentives to NOT make educations in things like engineering be very efficient. They load it up with excessive "liberal" interdisciplinary requirements and far, far, far too much mathematical theory that doesn't apply to a career of the application of engineering.

  • JEP||

    I'm going to disagree with you there. In my school, you spent your freshman year in "Freshman Engineering" where they taught you how to program and some problem solving skills. You didn't start on your field specific engineering courses until your sophomore year.

    On top of that, I did a co-op program for 5 semesters, adding a year onto my graduation date. So it took me 5 years to get my undergrad and one year of that was spent in courses not associated with my field.
    Not to mention, I entered undergrad with 22 hours of liberal arts credits, so I should have been a semester and half ahead.

    I still think I should have had another two semesters of undergrad to really know what I was doing.

    Mathematical theory is extremely important. They don't teach you enough theory, IMO. If you don't understand the physical implications of the operations you're performing, then you don't know what you're doing - you're doing it because that's what someone/the textbook told you to do. No real understanding there.

  • DK||

    This is why anyone who really wants to be an engineer should first get a B.S. in physics. :-)

  • newshutz||

    Except for Material and Chemical Engineers, they need that B.S. in Chemistry. :^)

    Actually, my wife struggles a bit in Engineering with her MS in Physics. In the first year or two of Engineering, one learns simplifying assumptions that they do not teach in Physics (e.g. constrain the boundary conditions so you can make the mathematical model linear like the PI model of the transistor for instance)

  • GW||

    I got my engineering degree 10 years ago, and now the same program takes 10 fewer hours to obtain a degree. A lot of the "old" engineering curriculum is obsolete. There used to be a few classes of manual drafting required, now there are none.

    I thought the article was funny, but it still doesn't address the fact that our public school system is churning out a bunch of ignorant, lazy kids.

  • ||

    They also refine concepts and make them simpler and easier to explain.

    Sometimes this process occurs in as little as 5 years.

    Sometimes there's an advance in research and you skip over a few intermediate concepts and get right to a simple explanation of an advanced one that can be taught to undergrads.

  • RedDragon6009||

    HaHa! You had me going; for a second there I thought this was going to be an interesting article.

  • ||

    Sonny, its 10 cent flapjack. Which in today's money is 23.52$.
    In a pinch, you can use griddle cake. back in Fresno, we called 'em squrelly jacks. That now was good eating. back than, you could live off the land, or more precisely, the road. plenty of fiddles....

  • Mainer||

    ..and we wore an onion on our belt, which was the fashion of the time.

  • ||

    We didn't have white onions because of the war.

  • Another Phil||

    Gimme five bees for a quarter, you'd say

  • Emperior Wears No Clothes||

    Now where was I...

  • ||

    As a kid I used to get my flapjacks from Sambo's on Van Ness in Fresno. Then some puke said that flapjacks were racist and all the Sambos closed down.

  • Almanian||

    We called them people "jackasses".

    Sambos - nice

  • WTF||

    Why are they getting dumber? It could have something to do with the quality of the crappy teachers who bully special needs students.

  • Forgettable Paul||

    Everyone's special, Dash.

  • ||

    Which is another way of saying no one is.

  • SweatingBourbon||

    Gunning for Andy Rooney's old job?

  • Hank||

    :/

  • Squidbrain||

    Where do I go to find out why Reason articles are getting dumber?

  • Ditch||

    From the H&R description:
    "The real problem, writes Hinkle, isn't that public education has failed, but that there's too much too learn"

    Like grammar, apparently.

  • spencer||

    Is there a problem here? "the real problem (parenthetical statement separated by commas) isn't that public education has failed (second clause connected by a comma and but) that there's too much too learn (typos are not grammatical mistakes).

  • ||

    It's the second "too".

  • Almanian||

    Nobody lykes a smarty payunts!

  • Another Phil||

    Grammar pedants are annoying douchebags who should be shunned by all right-thinking people. Also, this was a typo, not a grammar error. I love joe'z law.

  • ||

    And moronic attitudes like this are why people are getting dumber. Right-thinking people should require proper writing of those who desire to be taken seriously.

  • michael||

    What the hell.

  • ||

    "Rarely is the question asked: is our children learning?"

  • Fatty Bolger||

    Bush channeling his inner Ali G.

  • JD||

    This paragraph:

    "By contrast, math is the one area of study where people don't keep making more of it. Once mathematicians proved there are transfinite numbers—numbers bigger than infinity—there was really nowhere else to go. Nothing left for math to do but sit back and rest on its laurels. If anything, math is moving in the opposite direction from other academic disciplines: The best mathematicians are busy solving old puzzlers, like Fermat's last theorem. Know what that means? It means math is getting easier over time, not harder."

    tells me that the writer has absolutely no clue about modern mathematical research.

  • ||

    This.

    I will admit though that the research mathematical logic people do, while interesting and beautiful, seems like mental masturbation to me.

  • Ted S.||

  • ||

    Also, there is absolutely no reason why calculus books have to be updated with new editions every three years.

  • ||

    Yes, there is! How else would professors pad their paychecks? For biz calc, my university uses a "specialized" edition. Its a standard calc book with about fifteen pages inserted. It costs about $40 more than the regular book and can only be purchased at the school bookstore.

  • ||

    It's probably not the professors who get the extra cash. It goes into the university's slush fund operating revenue.

    I've never written a textbook, but from what I hear the author is lucky to get $5 royalty from a $100 text. Outside of the hugely popular calculus and physics books, that's not going to add up to much.

  • Mo||

    In one of my undergrad history classes, the professor's book was required reading. On the last day of class, he passed around a stack of $1 bills and told everyone to take one. After we all had one he said, "I don't want to profit all of my students for a required text book, so I gave you all back my royalty for the book. It was a $25 book, IIRC.

  • The Texas Board of Education||

    Wait until we vote on the new textbooks for creation mathematics.

  • California Board of Education||

    Or until we require those new GLBT tolerance and climate change math books.

  • robc||

    Thomas was good enough for me, it will be good enough for my grandkids.

    Finney, bah, newcomer.

    /Mine was Thomas & Finney
    //6th edition, I just checked
    ///probably 5 more than was needed

  • PermaLurker||

    Totally agree. My homeschooled kids learned calculus from the exact same book that my father used (complete with my dad's scribbled notes in the margin). It's not like calculus has a shelf life

  • PermaLurker||

    Calculus and Analytic Geometry, Fisher and Ziebur Copyright 1959

  • Spartacus||

    They have to correct all the old typos and insert new ones. Also, Chapters 3 and 4 need to be interchanged.

  • ||

    That's funny, what it told me was that the writer was pulling our legs.

    Or, did you think he really thought there were only eleven elements in the 1950s periodic table too?

  • Almanian||

    That A. Barton and his sarcasm! Always fooling people!

  • Brett L||

    phlogiston, ether, hydrogen, tin, carbon, iron, gold, silver, quicksilver, copper

  • ||

    In my day it was earth, fire, water, air and chaos.

  • EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy||

    ...and they called the wind Mariah.

  • Alan Kellogg||

    Back in the old days the world was divided into air, earth, fire, and water. These days we know the world comes in gaseous, solid, plasma, and liquid form.

  • Jimbo||

    Bile? You forgot BILE!

  • Colonel_Angus||

    "tells me that the writer has absolutely no clue about modern mathematical research."

    Tells me you are full of yourself. And you can't spot parody.

  • spencer||

    This is satire, right? I mean, it is satire.

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    To a degree; yes. You pretty much have to read most of what Bart writes with the understanding that he often writes much of it with his tongue firmly planted in his cheek.

  • ||

    White Indian stole Hinkle's password.

    Officer, am I free to gambol about the education system?

  • School Assistance Officer||

    You need a hall pass.

  • ||

    Actually the reason kids are getting dumber is because they are now using the Welfare system or socialized system of education. Whats that? The teacher requires everyone to get into groups of four and each group will share the grade. The teacher organizes the groups by making sure there is at least one smart kid per group that way the lesser kids will get the same grade as the smart kid and the teacher can claim across the board improvement when in reality the only kid learning is the smart one because the others rely on the smart kids work just like in a welfare society. This is happening to my sisters kid and my friends kids that are in different schools and the smart kids know what is going on and it's making them conservative because they now understand the futility of shared work, money etc...

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Cool anecdote, bro.

  • Supreme Generalissimo Fluffy||

    Is it possible, though, that some things become easier to understand over time, because of cultural saturation?

    They say that the theory of relativity was extraordinarily difficult for even professional physicists to conceptualize when it was new, but in 2011 it doesn't seem all that unstraightforward.

    I bet if you went back in time and tried to explain the laws of thermodynamics to Aristotle, he'd be all like, "Huh whaaaaaaaaa?" But in 2011 you can explain them pretty easily to any bright 5th grader.

  • DK||

    I'm pretty sure the relativity thing was pretty apocryphal. Lorentz and Poincare were damned close to finishing special relativity before Einstein got there. And it's a remarkably straightforward and easy to understand theory which explained a lot of recent experimental results. I don't think any physicists found it exceptionally difficult; their problems with it were more ideological than anything.

    Now, general relativity is any entirely different matter. No one else was even thinking about this at the time of Einstein. And it required mathematics with which most physicists were not familiar. So it would be extremely difficult. Though I'd still argue that most physicists find GR to be a fairly difficult subject. But maybe that's only us poor schleps who don't do all the sexy particle and cosmology work.

  • ||

    Not a physicist, but they tell me that relativity comes into play in designing and monitoring systems aboard satellites. I assume they're talking about GR since Earth orbit isn't an inertial frame.

  • DK||

    A specific result of general relativity (time dilation due to proximity to a massive object) comes into play when designing GPS systems, etc. All an engineer has to do is apply a well-known formula to correct for these effects. That doesn't necessitate an understanding of the basic principles of GR.

  • Sidd Finch||

    A deep mathematical understanding of physics is simply inaccessible to most people and well north of 99% of 5th graders.

  • mostinterestingmanintheworld||

    Is ^this^ where the OWS crowd emerges?

  • Rich||

    I blame it on the apparently ubiquitous acceptance of utterances analogous to "Winning the future for our children are important."

  • Len||

    Hinkle seems to think he was making a point here, but he completely misses the point that there is a difference between the accumulation of knowledge and that of being able to think in an analytical manner. So yes children today are "dumber" or in other words have not had that foundation of analytical thinking paired with the ability to communicate that is necessary to learn at a higher level.

  • Len||

    I should add his non-analysis based anecdote based argument is proof of that. He, himself uses no standards by which to determine if his "thesis" holds.

  • ||

    I think you got trolled, son.

  • ||

    what evidence do you have that critical thinking is now worse? and worse than when? 50 years ago? 20? 1000? (my guess is, it is worse than the "good ol days")
    i hear that bs spouted all the time, and when it comes time to justify it, the only answers i get are variations of "just look around, it is obvious!"

  • Len||

    Take literacy rates as an example, at one time the literacy rate for blacks was 80%, now it has dropped to 60%.

    another example is the literacy testing used for those going into the military. WW2, the literacy rate was around 96%, Korean War it dropped to 81%, Vietnam -73%.

    We could also go on to examine the curricula of today compared to say the late 1800s, and find that there is a sizable gap in the comprehension needed.

  • Sidd Finch||

    The 1800s thing wouldn't work because few people went to school then. It'd be as stupid as comparing the curriculum at your city's fanciest private school to the average public school.

    Literacy has improved for all segments of the population, your made-up stats notwithstanding.

  • Len||

    Made up stats? Damn, you're proof of the increase of stupidity. The source of the military stats are the military which gave the literacy tests.

    Literacy has improved? During the time of the revolution (excluding slaves), the literacy rate 93 -100%, and you're claiming it has improved??

  • Sidd Finch||

    The military didn't even attempt to norm their test to the gen pop until 1980.

  • Len||

  • Sidd Finch||

    Um, The Bell Curve's heritability estimates are now the lower bound. Perhaps you should reference something that hasn't since proven to be demonstrably false.

  • Len||

    Again demonstrating stupidity,the above link has to do with literacy rates, not the Bell Curve.

  • Sidd Finch||

    The Dumbbell Curve "has to do with literacy rates," not The Bell Curve? Do you realize how no sentient human could believe that?

    Bonus questions: Why doesn't the supposed decrease in literacy result in something other than a normal IQ distribution? Why do language-less IQ tests have the same distributions as WISC and WAIS?

  • ||

    excluding slaves, what about excluding women? chinamen? who is the population then, and who is the population now? how have the tests changed? as someone who has a background in psychological testing, and is currently an SAT instructor (which is a moderately direct descendant of the military's version of Stanford-Binet), i am familiar with the myriad variables that must be accounted for before conclusions can be drawn.

    Your literacy stats are comparing apples to oranges. Look at the breakdown of who was taking the military literacy tests then and now.
    then look up the concept of selection bias.

    considering all the hoaxes, hysterias, panics and other assorted b.s. even our most respected and right thinking forefathers bought into, i would dare say the changes in critical thinking are lateral, not up or down.

  • Ragnar||

    I hope Reason didn't pay for this article.

  • ||

    The dunce cap pic reminds me of The Residents video for "Third Reich and Roll."

  • Almanian Bot||

    All your knowledge are belong to us.

  • ||

    Not one of the Hink's best articles.

  • stuartl||

    "Reading scores are down."

    Hmmm, could that have anything to do with a larger number of non-native speakers?

    Mr Hinkle, may I recommend googling Simpson's Paradox. Aggregate results without demographic breakdown are meaningless. Every time there is an aggregate result of scores going down, it turns out that all the individual ethnic groups have scores going up.

  • Sidd Finch||

    I've pointed out numerous problems with their education articles and linked to facty, academic stuff. It's pointless. They have their agenda, truth be damned. By they, I mean everyone but Bailey and Cavanaugh.

  • DK||

    Strange, too. I always get the feeling that the idea that people are getting dumber comes from a basic desire to say: "See! Ed Department fucked things up. See!" It should be clear that kids today know at least as much, if not more, than their predecessors. The information economy necessitates that. Instead of making up facts to fit a story, perhaps we could just say that this is another success story of the individual (read - kid who goes through the public school system) triumphing over the state. Need not be contrary to over favorite political beliefs.

  • ||

    Not learning is effortless.

  • Applejack||

    Is it so unreasonable to expect that they will know that proper nouns and pronouns must be capitalized? Or that words at the start of a sentence must be capitalized too? You don't really need 11 PhDs in physics to know that.

  • ||

    whatevs, bra

  • Another Phil||

    I think I've figured out your problem. You keep taking Physics classes, expecting to learn how to write. Just take a freshman English course next semester.

  • Geoffrey Nathan||

    Depends on what you mean by 'unreasonable'. Pronouns are not capitalized in English:

    I saw him. (not 'I saw Him')

    Joe gave me their answers. (not 'Joe gave Me Their answers.')

  • Brett L||

    Unless you're talking about god(s).

  • Geoffrey Nathan||

    That's 'God(s)' to you mere mortals. Watch it, or you'll get hit by one of My thunderbolts.

  • Applejack||

    Hang on a minute "I saw him": the pronoun referring to yourself is not capitalized? And I didn't say all pronouns are capitalized (go back and read the sentence please). D- for your inattention.

    I've just come from a long argument with some idiot who didn't seem to know how to use his shift key and... kept adding dramatic ellipses in the middle of every... sentence for no good reason. The fuck is that all about? And he was much more overkill than that.

    And I've never taken a physics course in my life. I'm not quite sure what your saying there. I just wish people could learn basic punctuation and capitalization rules. Especially if they're going to call me a "fool" and an "idiot". Yeah, the bastard did that too. Bastard.

  • Applejack||

    Here you go, copypasta of the junk they guy writes:

    "the personal computer was created in a garage through communist involvement of enlightened individuals who joined together in the spirit of cooperation to share their knowledge and use their resources....i wrote a piece before on technology of slave societies and soviet russia....you should re-read it, it refutes the argument you are trying to make here"

    Misspelling, I and Russia not capitalized, words at the beginning of sentences not capitalized, and where sentences begin and end being hard to discern because of the strange use of dramatic ellipses (using fours dots instead of three.) Annoying, huh?

  • Applejack||

    *The guy writes. Screw off.

  • ||

    He meant proper pronouns.

  • Lord Humungus||

    then it gets funny... right?

  • Applejack||

    Here you go, copypasta of the junk they guy writes:

    "the personal computer was created in a garage through communist involvement of enlightened individuals who joined together in the spirit of cooperation to share their knowledge and use their resources....i wrote a piece before on technology of slave societies and soviet russia....you should re-read it, it refutes the argument you are trying to make here"

    Misspelling, I and Russia not capitalized, words at the beginning of sentences not capitalized, and where sentences begin and end being hard to discern because of the strange use of dramatic ellipses (using fours dots instead of three.) Annoying, huh?

  • ||

    Bullshit.

    People are just getting lazy and undicsciplined. Too busy coddling little egos and making everyone feel special to actually make them sit down and do their math homework.

    Just teach them math, and they'll be fine. And stop wasting their time on bullshit studies.

  • ||

    Wow. Such a ludicrous hypothesis that I actually laughed. I mean this article is funny, man. Complete bullshit, but funny. Really, I mean it.

  • ||

    Marc Urbach said in an ajc.com post, Get Schooled, that children need better standards….I think he is correct... But allow me to expose, in no uncertain terms, a close kept secret among academics, i.e. any average child, African American included, if subjected to the proper discipline and standards, will become nothing less than a straight A student.

    Mr. Urbach, a teacher at Georgia State University, is admitting that when students receive straight A’s in public schools or higher education, it is a matter of the mechanical rather than cerebral. The vast majority of people mistakenly believe it’s the opposite; that’s an oppressive error. But via the mechanical grind in public schools, the brain is able to adapt to greater mechanical expectations in higher education.

    I think if academic and others were confident enough to expose this secret etc in no uncertain terms to undisciplined children and parents, they may be inclined to go through the mechanical grind to receive straight A’s in public schools which will undoubtedly prepare them to take on the rigorous mechanical grind of higher education.

    Amen?

  • ||

  • BelowTheRim||

    The author makes a point but I must say I'm surprised that this got published without any mention of the rise to great power by the teachers' unions.

    When did they rise, the 1960's and every since have been getting stronger and stronger at the behest of the children/students.

  • DK||

    I don't think you want the word "behest". The children/students ordered the unions' rise to power? Seems unlikely...

  • Sailor||

    Steve Jobs helped make kids dumb. GUIS, PIXAR instead of film, and idevices.

  • ||

    This article might explain why it is hard to become a top-tier scientist; it does not explain why high-school graduates cannot calculate change, or why 2 out of 3 college seniors in America fail to reach enough "math proficiency" to calculate and compare the price per ounce of two products.

    A simpler theory, known to most Reason Readers, does explain the decay of education: the socialist calculation problem. Markets and market prices are essential to discover what customers want and how to provide it efficiently. Lacking those basic economic features, schools cannot effectively compute what they should be doing, nor how to do it.

    Google "James Tooley" "Reclaiming Education"

  • Applejack||

    Thank you, my point exactly: you don't need to know all the new advances in science to know when to use a capital letter. I know relatively little about new scientific developments but I know how to string a freakin' coherent sentence together.

  • Emperior Wears No Clothes||

    I blame the vidya gamz.

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