ARE YOUNG AMERICANS ILLITERATE ?

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Lately I've been checking YouTube for a bit of entertainment, a thing I rarely do. I was watching some videos where people interview passers-by for any kind of subject from politics to history to geography.

 

A bunch of German kids were asked where for example Canada or Iran is situated on a map, and they had to describe where they thought these countries would be. Which is a neighboring country and on which continent a particular country lies. Most were halfway correct, maybe it's daily news which made them know it, or they learned that in school.

 

So I switched over to US kids answering the same or similar geographic questions, and I couldn't believe my eyes. Some thought that Germany was south of Russia, or North Korea is north of Canada, Japan is a country in South America and Brazil lies in Africa "because they have a lot of tropical forest". No need to tell you that they didn't know who the vice president of their own country is, giggle giggle giggle.

 

So I ask myself......if that generation is so clueless how are they going to manage the country one day, leave alone vote for people if they don't even know who is who and what he stands for ? I mean, those kids were about 18-20 years old, so no kindergarten, really.

 

Or have I simply chosen "the wrong video" ?

Comments

Dino Manalis Added Nov 7, 2018 - 8:41am
 Education should be prioritized, including geography!
Jeffry Gilbert Added Nov 7, 2018 - 8:44am
As I have already told you Stone, 99.825% of DUHmericans are dogshit stupid ignorant illiterate uninformed and damned proud of it.
Leroy Added Nov 7, 2018 - 8:46am
Shouldn't the question be about ignorance?  
 
The youth in the US are well-educated and generally literate.  But they are ignorant.  Forget about world geographics.  They don't even know who won the Civil War (aka War of Northern Aggression) or who the participants where.  There is a greater emphasis placed on sociability today at the expense of knowledge.
 
 
opher goodwin Added Nov 7, 2018 - 9:05am
Stone - no Americans in my school in California didn't have a clue about anything outside of America. I put a big map of the world up. They didn't know where Britain was.
Stone-Eater Added Nov 7, 2018 - 9:34am
Jeffry
 
LOL
Stone-Eater Added Nov 7, 2018 - 9:34am
Dino
 
Apparently it's not important enough !
Stone-Eater Added Nov 7, 2018 - 9:37am
Leroy
 
There is a greater emphasis placed on sociability today at the expense of knowledge.
 
Hm....I wonder. Sociability requires knowledge, if not what is there to talk about when you socialize ? Or am I getting something wrong here ?
 
I think the dumbing down happens in Europe too, but on a smaller scale because we're "in the middle of it" and get more information - if we want it or not ;-)
Stone-Eater Added Nov 7, 2018 - 9:40am
Oph
 
Before I went traveling I wasn't a hero in geography as well. But at least I knew a bit, because when the news or documentations talked about a foreign country I took the map and checked out where that is. That way I at least knew parts of Asia, Europe and South America, and after getting more info we decided that we start with going to where the nicest beaches are - in South and South-East Asia !
opher goodwin Added Nov 7, 2018 - 9:46am
Stone - for a lot of Americans the world is America. They do not own a passport or ever go out of the country. 64% have never been outside America. They hold a World Series with just American teams.
Even A Broken Clock Added Nov 7, 2018 - 9:49am
Stone - this reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from H. L. Mencken almost 100 years ago: 
No one in this world, so far as I know — and I have searched the records for years, and employed agents to help me — has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people"
 
Substitute American for plain and you've just about got it.
Stone-Eater Added Nov 7, 2018 - 9:57am
Oph
 
64% have never been outside America.
 
Wow. Maybe that's also due to the fact that probably most don't speak anything else than English, maybe Spanish as well, and they think "why leave when we have all sorts of climates and vegetations at home".
 
They seem not too eager to see other cultures therefore.
Stone-Eater Added Nov 7, 2018 - 10:01am
Bohica
 
Very informative, thanks. Maybe the "isolation" of the US (two oceans) and the fact of having only one neighbor (Mexico) which is somewhat different in culture and mentality plays a role too.
Stone-Eater Added Nov 7, 2018 - 10:03am
EABC
 
Well.....had to google Mencken. Am I disqualified now ? ;-)
Ian Thorpe Added Nov 7, 2018 - 10:49am
Stone Eater, as we're seeing the same to a lesser extent in Britain I think it comes down to the education systems in the anglosphere nations, the way they are taught does not engender curiosity.
My daughter Gabby, who runs the office for  services firm in the Trois Vallees (that's in the French Alps for non Europeans) tells a story of a girl they had working for them one winter, she was on a gap year, just out of university with a very good degree.
One day this middle aged to old guy with dyed hair, sleepy eyes and a Liverpool accent walks in to book some time on the slopes or something and starts looking at what is on offer. Everyone is looking at him and saying things like,
"It's him isn't it?"
"Nah! What would he be doing here?"
"Having a winter holiday maybe, It IS him."
"Gerroutahere, it can't be."
Gabby decides, "I'm the boss, I'll take this one," goes to the counter, does the transaction and says "Thank you very much Mr. McCartney."
 
"Who was he then?" asks gap year girl when he'd gone."
"Only Paul effing McCartney," the others chorus.
Who? naver heard of him," says gap year girl.
Paul McCartney of The Beatles she was told, but she had never heard of the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan or Diana Ross. As they got to know her better they learned she hadn't a clue where Afghanistan was or why it had been in the news for about ten years, had never heard of David Cameron, Barack Obama or Angela Merkel. Worse, not only was she woefully ignorant, she had no desire to know.
Now OK, The Beatles etc. were way before her time, but they are part of the history of pop culture. When I was 21 I knew who Bing Crosby was, and The Glenn Miller Band, Al Jolson, Buster Keaton, Enrico Caruso etc. etc. And I could point to almost all the major nations on a world map. There is no reason to know these things and a host of other useless trivia of course, but not knowing indicates a lack of awareness of the world we live in and what is going on around us.
It is not only Americans, the disease is spreading, but I'm glad to hear some nations are still educating young people properly so that they emerge from school able and eager  to engage with the world, past and present.
Stone-Eater Added Nov 7, 2018 - 11:58am
Ian
 
Wow.
 
What I notice however that the youth in Africa are better educated than ours by now. I see that not only in Senegal, but also in Cameroon.....
opher goodwin Added Nov 7, 2018 - 12:40pm
Ian - the restricted curriculum imposed by this government focusses on a narrow range of knowledge and has eradicated creativity, discussion or lateral thinking. It's a straight memory test. Curiosity has no place.
opher goodwin Added Nov 7, 2018 - 12:41pm
Stone - there is a real thirst for knowledge in the developing world. It is their passport to a better life and they know it. Kids in the developed countries have is so easy they don't need to bother.
Katharine Otto Added Nov 7, 2018 - 1:20pm
Stone,
News media do not give good maps of the areas they report on.  TV is especially bad, but even newspapers will refer to places without giving a clue about where they are.  I'm constantly looking up locations on my globe, or atlas, to identify locations of countries and those around them.
 
Also, borders have been changing so fast that it's hard to keep up.  My globe and atlas are already out of date, and they are just a few years old.  South Sudan now, or what used to be Zaire in Africa, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia in Eastern Europe.  And the cities change, like Istanbul.  Any kind of historical reference refers to old names, like Persia, which is now Iraq.  
 
I'm not making excuses for Americans, but we would all be better informed about geography if it were included in media reports on international affairs.
Stone-Eater Added Nov 7, 2018 - 1:40pm
Katharine
 
When a country thinks of itself as the best anyway, the media behave accordingly and don't bother about the rest. For that only the net can help - yet...
Stone-Eater Added Nov 7, 2018 - 1:41pm
Oph
 
Right !
Ian Thorpe Added Nov 7, 2018 - 4:24pm
Opher puhleeeeze! I'm not one of your pupils so don't ask me to believe left wing propaganda. The restricted curriculum actually goes back to the abolition of the grammar schools in the 1970s, when the renaissance model started to be abandoned.
But the real damage was done by that little cunt Blair (who said EDUCATION, EDUCATION, EDUCATION, and meant CONFORMITY, CONFORMITY, CONFORMITY) and  socialist Labour Party capitalist cronies.
BTW I wonder how many Rothschild family members are still in Labour's top team now Corbyn's Jew haters are in control. I know Margaret Hodge is still there. Anyone else? Socialism eh? Great innit?
It was also Labour that decided everyone should have a degree, thus turning universities into paper qualifications shops and saddling millions of young people with enormous debts in return for a worthless bit of paper.
The current government under Theresa (prostitute shoes) May are crap but don't try to blame them for the abysmal failures of Labour between 1997 and 2010.
Lindsay Wheeler Added Nov 7, 2018 - 6:11pm
Gave it "like". Sad.
Jeff Michka Added Nov 7, 2018 - 6:39pm
Geezus, no shortage of "blamegaming" here.  As was noted, Americans are poorly travelled, thinking America is, in Zappaese," ...Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful...it really makes it" And who wants to go to places where we can't understand what people are saying? Can't they speak ENGLISH?  If they do go someplace like that, they're still unable to understand,  and like many think of "the Other" as just that because the Other doesn't speak "good American."
Leroy Added Nov 7, 2018 - 6:46pm
"Hm....I wonder. Sociability requires knowledge, if not what is there to talk about when you socialize ? Or am I getting something wrong here ?"
 
I doubt millennials or pretty much anybody discusses geography when they socialize.  In today's world, sex education takes precedence over geography.  It's better to know that Heather has two mommies and whether or not you should have a sex change or not.
 
No, you can be as dumb as a brick and still socialize.
Cullen Kehoe Added Nov 7, 2018 - 7:07pm
Many on the Left think the most important subject for schools is learning about sex and your body. 
 
They further think that kids don't need to know how to read, write, or do math. But so long as they know how to reproduce (and then kill their offspring in the womb), then they'll be alright. 
Cullen Kehoe Added Nov 7, 2018 - 7:12pm
The American school system is constantly being tinkered with and elites think the most important thing is to dumb things down to the level of the stupidest kid in class (No Child Left Behind). 
 
And so the majority of students get bored and it leads to the students caring about so many other stupid things (school dances, dating, gossip, bullying, many of the ugly attributes of humanity coming to the surface in middle school and high school years). I argue it's partly because the vast majority of students are bored out of their minds. 

The scene in 'Ferris Bueller's Day Off' is 30 years old (with Ben Stein) but shows the American school system from the 80's quite well. The students are practically zombies because they are so bored. 
Jeffry Gilbert Added Nov 7, 2018 - 7:47pm
why leave when we have all sorts of climates and vegetations at home".
 
I actually had a DUHmerican once tell me he didn't need to go anywhere else because he had everything he needed right where he was. 
 
I asked him how could he possibly know that if he'd never been anywhere or seen anything. 
 
You guessed it - he got angry. 
 
Michael B. Added Nov 7, 2018 - 10:01pm
Rub-dub-dub, three men in a Americaphobic tub! A sailor, a slacker, and a communist cracker! Once again, my Swiss friend, you label and apply blanket judgements, despite your supposed opposition to such things. Also, you have contempt for those who use Wikipedia as a source, but you're sourcing YouTube? As you and the others will bash America and Americans on the flimsiest pretext, it's par for the course, lol.
The Owl Added Nov 7, 2018 - 10:42pm
It's ironic, isn't it, that most US college kids can precisely and accurately name all of the recreational drugs on the street and can, with GPS precision, tell you exactly where they can be purchased.
 
Higher learning HAS taught them something!
 
 
 
 
Doug Plumb Added Nov 7, 2018 - 10:51pm
A really good question to ask people is to ask what common law means and what justice means in the West as well as the various conceptions of justice. Who cares where N. Korea is. Its useless info. If you want to know, look at a map. Who cares who Pence is? Think he has any power?
Minister Peaceful Poet Added Nov 8, 2018 - 2:07am
There is an issue here I will admit.  I don't know if its the fluoride in the water or the chem spray up above, or maybe both.  
Flying Junior Added Nov 8, 2018 - 2:17am
It's because schools no longer emphasize music and foreign languages.  Those are the two things that most help a brain develop its maximum capabilities.  But instead of teaching our children to play the piano and the guitar, we let them listen to the little Mozart Sonatinas as fetuses by pressing pillow speakers against their mother's tummies.  They listen to it in their cribs instead of learn how to read music.  The Mozart Baby!  Instead of teaching youngsters patriotic, religious and folk songs it's just dumb songs for kids blasted on a boom box.  It's like our entire heritage has vanished.  It is kinda sad about the geography thing.  How hard would it be to show third-graders a map of the world?  Memorize the capitols of the states and the countries?  Any of you Yankees remember Social Studies?
 
But for the most part, loading up kids with too much history would be a waste of time.  We need to instill in them the curiosity to investigate and learn about history on their own.  And above all we need to cultivate a love of reading and libraries.
 
Fail
 
And get the hell offa my lawn!





Stone-Eater Added Nov 8, 2018 - 2:51am
Lindsay
 
Wow thanks ! What a honor ;)
Stone-Eater Added Nov 8, 2018 - 2:53am
FJ
 
Precisely. Music and languages.
Stone-Eater Added Nov 8, 2018 - 2:55am
Michael
 
Lol I guess that decline is all over the West by now. Not in Asia though....
Bill Kamps Added Nov 8, 2018 - 3:31am
Stone, as you have seen here in WB, our government run K-12 school system sucks.  The private schools of K-12 are fine, and the universities also teach reasonably well.
 
All the comments here blame the parents for the poor K-12 system, but the parents are not any  more heavily involved in the private schools, and they dont do a thing to affect what is taught at the university level.  The issue is the government incompetence at running the school system.
 
Iran, that's an island in the Pacific, yes?
Stone-Eater Added Nov 8, 2018 - 3:34am
Bill
 
Yep. Close to Greenland :))
Dr. Rupert Green Added Nov 8, 2018 - 4:13am
Do you know the second derivative of 2x^2?  Do you know the symbol for gold on the Periodic Table? Are you frustrated with those cellphone gadgets or do you give a young person to fix for you?  We can cherry-pick arguments or positions to berate an individual? I come from the old school where we rote learned and committed stuff to memory. That is passe with modern youth. If you had the sense these youth have, you would have taken up your cell phone to answer the questions. In today's society, it not about a smart person can answer the question you posed, it about knowing how to access, analyze, authenticate, and apply information.
Stone-Eater Added Nov 8, 2018 - 4:30am
Rupert
 
No problem, I'm in IT since 1987. But that doesn't mean that my existence depends on digital gadgets or unsocial media channels for info research ;)
Stone-Eater Added Nov 8, 2018 - 4:32am
BTW: I wonder how the tasks you described could be done when there's a general power shutdown....
Dr. Rupert Green Added Nov 8, 2018 - 4:49am
"BTW: I wonder how the tasks you described could be done when there's a general power shutdown...."
 
That is a question I muse at all the time as I cash out at the supermarket. While I have long calculated how much my bill must be, cashiers depend on electrical gadgets. It appears Americans without stockpiled food would starve or riot if no electricity shuttered supermarkets for a week. Beyond the rebound of your question is the larger picture of our dependency on technology. Could a young pilot pull out the chart and plot a course if the plane lost its navigational system?
Stone-Eater Added Nov 8, 2018 - 5:54am
Rupert
 
No. The world would have a standstill in most places. Once we had no power for 2 weeks in Cameroon. No problem, since "development" isn't the same as here....
George N Romey Added Nov 8, 2018 - 8:03am
SEF America has become the country of dumb asses and its just not young people.  In fact, we celebrate being ignorant and easily fooled by the media, Hollywood, politicians, etc.  Just look at some of the people here on WB.  You no longer can have an intelligent discussion.
 
As technology advances the human race gets dumb down other than a few that can use technology to enhance their understanding of the world.  No surprise we are quickly soaring to a high/low society.  Just learn to ignore most of the world and you're be happy.  
Stone-Eater Added Nov 8, 2018 - 8:10am
George
 
The ONLY recipe against dumbing down is taking the finger out of the ass (as we say in German), get out and see the world instead of wasting the cash on gadgets, fashion or cars.
 
Consumerism is ok for old age when one can't move anymore....
Ian Thorpe Added Nov 8, 2018 - 10:12am
Dr Rupert, Smart phones make stupid people. Only about 5% of information stored on internet linked devices is available to the www, and thanks to filtering of results by the likes of Google, Yahoo and Amazon and the censorship imposed by Facebook and other social media, a lot of that 5%  is not likely to ever be seen by most web users.
Under those conditions the internet has become a tool for the suppression of information rather than the liberation of information. That's what was always intended of course.
Frosty Wooldridge Added Nov 8, 2018 - 10:48am
Worse, college kids today lack any comprehension of our history, and the lack common sense.  They drill into their smart phones to become totally disconnected to the real world.
Stone-Eater Added Nov 8, 2018 - 11:36am
Ian
 
Right. There IS information on the net, but one has to know how to find it. Just like 50 years ago. There were tabloids, newspapers and - the library....
Stone-Eater Added Nov 8, 2018 - 11:37am
Frosty
 
The real world can only be experienced by going there. Easy as that. But it takes EFFORT.
Autumn Cote Added Nov 8, 2018 - 12:06pm
Stone,
I'm sorry but I took down your your most recent article, as it was published too early.  As always, many thanks for your participation with Writer Beat!  
 
PS - I like the new photo.
Stone-Eater Added Nov 8, 2018 - 12:08pm
*sigh*
 
Yep....not bad for a 60-year old, eh ? LOL
Stone-Eater Added Nov 8, 2018 - 1:10pm
+++ BREAKING NEWS +++
 
My latest, most important article was delayed due to the time limit. Commenters please pardon me :-)
George N Romey Added Nov 8, 2018 - 1:42pm
SEF when you have a bunch of dumb ass parents that think Trump is either a god or the anti-Christ (common sense says he's neither) do you realistically think their children will be anything more than a dumb ass themselves.  
Stone-Eater Added Nov 8, 2018 - 1:51pm
George
 
Of course not. Probably the turn to the worse was already made in the 1980's...
Katharine Otto Added Nov 8, 2018 - 2:18pm
Stone,
So we have segued into a discussion about how frivolous American youth is or has become, and we can blame it on the internet and "dumbphones."  We can also blame it on the educational system in the US and abroad.  
 
Has there ever been an older generation that thought the younger generation had any sense?  Has there ever been a younger generation that thought the older generation does?  
 
Travel is a great idea, for those who can afford the time or money to do it, but it's not always feasible.  Reading offers a sort of substitute, as does mixing with different types of people, or even eating ethnic food.  As much as we disparage it, the internet does expose us to people all over the world, but different languages do present barriers.  It would be nice if the US had the luxury of regular exposure to people who speak different languages.
 
I've been threatening to pull out my old French books and read them again.  Mental travel, when physical travel is out of reach . . .
Jeffry Gilbert Added Nov 9, 2018 - 2:11am
how the tasks you described could be done when there's a general power shutdown....
 
That's what I ask these new deck officers who haven't had to take Celestial Navigation tests to get an Ocean endorsement. 
 
Even more important to know when during conflict the GPS system can be taken out by the enemy, can be set to provide retarded data and other problems. 
 
Stone-Eater Added Nov 9, 2018 - 7:26am
Katharine
 
Has there ever been an older generation that thought the younger generation had any sense?  Has there ever been a younger generation that thought the older generation does?  
 
Depends. When parents try to be up to date with their kids instead of living for nostalgia it can work. As I said in my newest article - when parents can remember the time THEY were kids a good step is being made.
Stone-Eater Added Nov 9, 2018 - 7:27am
BTW:
 
It would be nice if the US had the luxury of regular exposure to people who speak different languages.
 
The US is immigration land ! Spanish, German, French, Chinese etc. Where's the problem ? Of course if people only stay with their kind it won't help....
Stone-Eater Added Nov 9, 2018 - 7:29am
Jeffry
 
GPS...well.....I never activated it on my cell, but I know that it can still be traced, even when it's shut down. A friend of mine from Guyana sells cell tracking systems for governments and....wow....what these things can do...amazing.
Ian Thorpe Added Nov 9, 2018 - 1:44pm
Stone Eater, years ago I liked to remind my son of Frank Zappa's words; "If you want to get laid go to college, if you want an education go to the library."