mm472: Blast from the Past! No. 43

© Carbouval |

© Carbouval |

MUDGE’S Musings

Events continue to conspire, sapping all the vigor out of my keyboard, but hey, recycling is IN, right? We’re all about doing the right thing here at Left-Handed Complement, and in that spirit we’re recycling some of yr (justifiably) humble svt‘s favorite electrons.

I hereby stop apologizing for observing the prime directive of blogging: Thou Shalt Blog Daily!

And, I’m guessing that most of you weren’t here nine months ago. As one of my favorite paper publications used to say as they flogged unsold back issues: “If you haven’t read it yet, it’s new for you!”


Blast from the Past!

A post we really, really loved to write, and read, and re-read…

From last fall, and always in season, originally posted October 30, 2007, and titled “mm180: American kids, dumber than dirt.”

MUDGE’S Musings

A couple of posts ago, we highlighted the apparent success of our education system, despite conventional wis-dumb that says that we’re failing to create enough scientists and engineers.

The column in Business Week showed that, far from an inadequate supply of engineers, for example, rather there is an inadequate supply of U.S. jobs for all of the engineers we’re creating.

Further, the reported astoundingly large numbers of engineers and scientists supposedly coming out of India and China may be a distorted and inflated number; the two countries are producing quantities of degrees, many of which are far less than minimum world-class.

So, MUDGE had a couple of days to feel relief, his faith somewhat restored in our often-maligned U.S. education system.

Not so fast, Pilgrim!

Another precinct has been heard from, bird-dogged, I’m remembering, by Digg actually, and this news, from the education trenches, is not good.

Mark Morford, a San Francisco columnist has the following dire report.


By Mark Morford, SF Gate Columnist

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

I have this ongoing discussion with a longtime reader who also just so happens to be a longtime Oakland high school teacher, a wonderful guy who’s seen generations of teens come and generations go and who has a delightful poetic sensibility and quirky outlook on his life and his family and his beloved teaching career.

And he often writes to me in response to something I might’ve written about the youth of today, anything where I comment on the various nefarious factors shaping their minds and their perspectives and whether or not, say, EMFs and junk food and cell phones are melting their brains and what can be done and just how bad it might all be.

His response: It is not bad at all. It’s absolutely horrifying.

Morford’s correspondent, and his opinion seems to be ratified by many of the over 500 comments appended to the story, is quite pessimistic about the next generation.

We are, as far as urban public education is concerned, essentially at rock bottom. We are now at a point where we are essentially churning out ignorant teens who are becoming ignorant adults and society as a whole will pay dearly, very soon, and if you think the hordes of easily terrified, mindless fundamentalist evangelical Christian lemmings have been bad for the soul of this country, just wait.

The next graf contains a pithy and disturbing simile, discussing the magnitude of mandated testing taking place in schools.

… the fact that, because of all the insidious mandatory testing teachers are now forced to incorporate into the curriculum, of the 182 school days in a year, there are 110 when such testing is going on somewhere at Oakland High. As one of his colleagues put it, “It’s like weighing a calf twice a day, but never feeding it.”

Ouch. No calf left behind?

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

American kids, dumber than dirt / Warning: The next generation might just be the biggest pile of idiots in U.S. history

I have trouble reconciling the upbeat tone of the higher education story from Business Week the other day to this appalling one.

Both are true, I am forced to suppose.

Our successful college students seem to be so despite the public education they receive to supposedly prepare them for that success.

And one needs to remember that Morford’s correspondent hails from a particularly declassé corner of San Francisco Bay, so one imagines that the picture there might just be bleaker than in many other large cities. But, still…

Morford is quite a bit more eloquent than yours truly, so he gets the next-to-last word:

As for the rest, well, the dystopian evidence seems overwhelming indeed, to the point where it might be no stretch at all to say the biggest threat facing America is perhaps not global warming, not perpetual warmongering, not garbage food or low-level radiation or way too much Lindsay Lohan, but a populace far too ignorant to know how to properly manage any of it, much less change it all for the better.

What, too fatalistic? Don’t worry. Soon enough, no one will know what the word even means.

It’s it for now. Thanks,


Add to FacebookAdd to NewsvineAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to Ma.gnoliaAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Furl


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s