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Is there a law somewhere which requires that public schools must aim for mediocrity?

Nobody denies that our toys, including games and robots, are smarter than ever. Meanwhile, everyone seems to agree that we humans are moving in the other direction: dumber and dumbest.

The unanimity of opinion is rather shocking. You see on the Internet a lot of headlines like this: “Are we becoming more STUPID? IQ scores are decreasing — and some experts argue it's because humans have reached their intellectual peak.”

As for why, there is a colorful variety of opinion. Some people blame pollution, diet, and/or environmental degradation. Others look for sociological causes, for example, fewer children or too many. Or is there genetic decay? Molecules and genes wear down just because they are old and exhausted.

Star2, a news site, announced:
“Science is telling us that we’re getting dumber….An Icelandic study…says we might be headed on a ‘downwards spiral into imbecility’… Researchers at deCODE, a genetics firm in Reykjavik, identified ‘education genes,’ genes that predispose humans to becoming more educated, and noted that there has been a decline over the past 65 years – meaning that the genes that make us want to get educated are becoming rarer.”

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A headline in the Daily Mail asks, “Were the Victorians cleverer than us? Research indicates a decline in brainpower and reflex speed thanks to 'REVERSE' natural selection.”

Or maybe we are inflicting this damage on ourselves. According to Charlotte Iserbyt's famous book title, our public schools are engaged in “The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America.” Public education seems to be cunningly designed to render students less intelligent and less capable, most commonly by making literacy and other basic skills harder to achieve.

Progressive education, according to Ayn Rand, was never designed to educate minds but to mutilate them. Public schools these days, though handsome architecturally, seem to be the intellectual equivalent of a crack house.

The theories and methods now used throughout K-12 education do make students dumber. Here’s the triad most commonly seen: students can’t read except in a fumbling way due to Sight-words; they can’t do basic arithmetic and become calculator-dependent, due to Common Core Math; and they don't learn very much factual information, due to Constructivism.

It was once emphatically understood that the role of teachers was to raise the intelligence of their students and make them smarter. But now the role of the teacher is being cut down to nothing. Even if teachers wanted to raise intelligence, they won’t know how to do it. Constructivist theory, now dominating, drives teachers to the margins. Achtung, teachers: No serious teaching allowed. No direct instruction. Don't even try passing knowledge on to the next generation.

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ASCD, a big voice in the Education Establishment, has an illuminating article about “the teacher’s role.” Illuminating because it’s an endless article (11,500 words) in no hurry to say very much. This shows what our experts are mired in: jargon, rhetoric, sophistry, propaganda, posturing, mush. A teacher could spend weeks carefully reading this article and end up further away from knowing what the job is or how to do it correctly.

On the other hand, this is what the government of Ghana states is the role of the teacher: “to communicate information.” So brief, so complete, so beautiful. You probably cannot find that elemental truth on an American website. Facts and knowledge, that’s what genuine teaching is all about.

The changes and decline in K-12 may be a case of extraordinarily bad timing. As the environment and many factors work against intelligence, our own Education Establishment is working hardest of all. These people will not give up their sweet socialist dream of everyone being equal, i.e. mediocre.

If all the prophets of doom are correct, our school officials have chosen the worst time in history to diminish what brains we have left. The bad timing is scary, perhaps even suicidal.

Clearly, we need to go on the opposite direction. Our so-called education experts need to run back to the drawing board. We need to make students smarter than ever before because now the bottom is collapsing under us. We are going to get a doubling affect.

It’s shocking to think that a hundred years ago, teachers were constantly pushing, poking and cajoling to make students work harder. There was a dunce cap for students who didn’t study. But now there’s little pressure not to be a dunce. This is a sad shift.

The Education Establishment has achieved its dumbing-down by the simple device of neglecting the traditional truths of education. Namely, teach basic skills and foundational knowledge. Everything commonsensical has been undermined. That's what we have to go back to. And maybe we could start by eliminating the impostors in our school system. These are the emperors with no clothes. They can talk-talk-talk about education but what they really care about is social engineering. We’ve had quite enough of that.

After a stroke, people sometimes have to teach themselves how to write or tell time. You have to start at the beginning and learn skills again. It’s doable; you can come back 100%. This country has, so to speak, been the victim of a weird stroke engineered by our self-appointed experts. Now we have to go to rehab. We have to work to make ourselves healthy again.

QED: Every American needs to learn more about what goes on in our public schools. If you know what's wrong, then you can fix it.

Bruce Deitrick Price's new book is “Saving K-12” He deconstructs educational theories and methods on Improve-Education.org.

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Bruce Deitrick Price

by Bruce Deitrick Price

Bruce Deitrick Price's new book is “Saving K-12 -- What happened to our public schools? How do we fix them?” He deconstructs educational theories and methods on Improve-Education.org.