In the years since I was in high school, I have witnessed the explosion of knowledge in the world, and been aghast at how little of it gets into the minds of those who will one day take over the world.
I look at the people I have recently met at the local junior college, and though they are very nice people in general, they are strikingly less knowledgeable than people were as I remember when I was attending college at their age. Now I am not saying they are stupid people – they are ignorant.
Unfortunately, part of the problem is that they not only do not know things, they are completely unaware of what they should begin studying to fill in these knowledge gaps. After speaking with a few of them, it was clear that many felt that it would be helpful to be presented with some sort of a list of things to know – like a study guide for the rest of their lives, sometime before graduation from high school.
I agree with that concept, as it is clear that the children of today are not being exposed to the things I was when I was in school. (As I write this, I realize that to some, it may seem that I am placing myself as the ultimate arbiter of what should be learned, but that is not the case – hence the need for the list above. It should be an effort, probably assembled by a committee of people who have lived a while, and are held in esteem for their knowledge by their peers.) Some of the things I learned are of little consequence today, but then who is to say what will or will not be useful over time? My policy, when I was young, was that all knowledge would be useful at sometime, even if it was only applicable during a playing of Trivial Pursuit.
I also came upon an opinion piece that I found entertaining, and pointed out what I was speaking about – there is a dearth of knowledge everywhere, and some of the uninformed are becoming famous (possibly infamous) for their ignorance –
Palin and Bachmann: The Anti-History Girls
Sarah Palin has proven untold times over that she doesn’t have a very decent grasp on the present (coining the nonexistent “death panels,” stumbling incoherently through that Katie Couric interview, not being able to name a single publication she reads regularly, etc.). Now, she’s stumping for a woman who is all too eager to prove that she doesn’t have any accurate conception of history, either.
Speaking on Sean Hannity’s show at a campaign rally for Rep. Michele Bachmann praised Palin for “breaking the barrier” of being a woman and a candidate for vice president. Except there’s that small problem of Palin having done no such thing – Geraldine Ferraro was the Democratic nominee for vice president in 1984 (other women – going back 100 years or more – have been nominated under fringe party banners). But, it’s typical of Bachmann to pretend anything originating from the Democratic party is either evil, or simply doesn’t exist.
Hey, though, this is an important part of their gimmick. After all, a 2008 survey of American teens found them appallingly ignorant of basic American history and literature facts: According to the New York Times:
Fewer than half of American teenagers who were asked basic history and literature questions in a phone survey knew when the Civil War was fought, and one in four said Columbus sailed to the New World some time after 1750, not in 1492.
The survey results … demonstrate that a significant proportion of teenagers live in “stunning ignorance” of history and literature, said the group that commissioned it, Common Core.
If Palin and Bachmann are claiming to be the champions of “Real America,” then it only stands to reason that they, too, would need to demonstrate a poor grasp of the history of the nation they presume to love and want to lead.
Though I have read enough about Palin and Bachmann to know I would never vote for either in any governmental contest, I would, should I lean toward it, want to know specifically how many other things in recent history these two people have forgotten. Bachmann may have made a simple one-time gaffe, but those who read are fully aware how uninformed Sarah Palin is – which is odd, since during my time in Alaska (5 years, over two tours of duty that my step-father had), I had plenty of cold snowy nights that provided much time to read, and that is precisely what I did. Perhaps she never heard that time not used wisely is time lost.
I have seen people make almost passing attempts at defending the position that knowledge of ancient history is not absolutely needed for a good and positive navigation of the world today, but I have never had anyone begin to try to defend the idea that being ignorant of what had occurred during their own lifetime was a good thing.
I would contend that mastery of recent history as well as studies in the the psychology of individuals and groups should be prerequisite for any sort of position where one leads the public.
In the past five years, I have been made painfully aware of how much is not being taught in schools, as there truly seems to be a study about it at least four times each year, perhaps more. It is also astounding that nothing is being done about it on a national level.
Quote of the day:
Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain.
– Friedrich von Schiller
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