Skip to comments.Dumb and Dumber? What Are College Kids Learning About Our Country?
Posted on 02/14/2010 6:58:25 AM PST by Pinkbell
The Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI) released its fourth annual national Civic Literacy report today called "The Shaping of the American Mind: The Diverging Influences of the College Degree & Civic Learning on American Beliefs." In past studies, ISI has broken new ground by demonstrating empirically the failures of colleges and universities to effectively teach their graduates the fundamentals of American history, government, foreign affairs, and economics.
On an individual level, less than 60% (sometimes far less) of college graduates can identify on a multiple-choice test the three branches of government; seminal passages from the Declaration of Independence and Gettysburg Address; basic events from the Revolutionary, Civil, and Vietnam Wars; and the primary features of our free enterprise system. Several of these questions are actually required knowledge for new American citizens, signifying their relevance to what we as a nation demand for informed citizenship.
On an institutional level, ISI discovered that at many of our most elite schools, like Yale, Princeton, Duke, and my alma mater Georgetown, not only did those surveyed fail to get above a D, seniors at these top schools did worse than freshmen on the same test, a phenomenon dubbed negative learning!
Conventional wisdom, along with the hard-earned savings of American families, has long supported the notion that with more college comes more knowledge. ISIs research has punctured the validity of such simple claims, drawing back the curtain of academias Land of Oz to reveal the smoke and mirrors of a veritable vacuum of civic ignorance.
(Excerpt) Read more at foxnews.com ...
Knowledge is a great thing, but prudence and wisdom are superior.
They had to develop a term to describe the results of liberal teachers..."negative learning".
Seriously, we have some good teachers at UD, and I know they are doing their job.
At work I question college new hires and interns about history (informally not work related) and they barely learn about WWII in high school. Myself I took history courses for college electives that were helpful.
The money quote.
Leftists understand this, and it's the reason why they want American history and civics classes to be replaced by gender studies, black studies, etc.
blatant & subliminal propaganda by leftist professors is hard to override.
Perhaps part of the Finals process should be the taking - and passing - of the American Citizenship exam. (slow load)
Might not hurt for all of us - I missed a couple.
I saw you on Glenn Beck's show...keep up the good work.
The O'Reilly Factor confronts Bill Ayers:
October 24, 2008:
(note the red communist star on his shirt)
From Investor's Business Daily (IBD), August 27, 2008:
"Ayers, now a tenured distinguished professor of education at UIC, works to educate teachers in socialist revolutionary ideology, urging that it be passed on to impressionable students.
One of Ayer's descriptions for a course called 'Improving Learning Environments' says prospective K-12 teachers need to 'be aware of the social and moral universe we inhabit and ... be a teacher capable of hope and struggle, outrage and action, teaching for social justice and liberation.
The Annenberg papers are quite extensive 132 boxes containing 947 file folders with 70 linear feet of material. They undoubtedly contain more surprises regarding Obama's relationship with Ayers, one of many relationships Obama has sought to hide.'..."
Article: Annenberg Papers: Putting On Ayers?
REVOLUTION: Voice of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA [Maoist]
[Revolution] Interview with Bill Ayers, Revolution #63, October 1, 2006:
"On Progressive Education, Critical Thinking and the Cowardice of Some in Dangerous Times"
This is by design...not by accident.
American and world history was taught in High School and daily news kept it updated.
I took history up here, and was very pleased to have an american prof who taught American history. Did very well too, an A.
If I, as a member of the commie, and American hating Canadian, can obtain a decent education on the history of America from a commie and american hating Canadian university campus, there’s no excuse for the same courses not being available down south.
and in related news:
We’ve gone thru ‘payback’ rebounds like this at least 3 times in the last 50 years....the first was New Math. When you and I were in school (assuming prior to new math), went on to college, then asked by our neighbors to help tutor their kids in math, we realized at the time that the Tower of Babel was under construction. There was nothing you nor I nor their parents could do to help these mushkins out of their jam! ....skipping forward to today, my favorite description of today’s universities: Institutions of Higher Looning.
Interesting quiz. I missed the one on who selects the supreme court justices. I was going to say president but decided on senate because in the end the choice is theirs. But it’s all in how I read that particular question.
In it, he reminded readers that preserving liberty under the Founders' Constitution required a knowledgeable and responsible citizenry.
Without an understanding of the principles underlying their liberty, Kirk concluded, citizens might come to rely more and more on government and lose their liberty under the burden of its weight.
Here is an excerpt from Dr. Kirk's piece:
"A republic whose citizens - whose leaders, indeed - are concerned chiefly with "looking out for Number One," and ignoring their responsibilities of citizenship, soon cannot "insure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare" - or carry on the other major duties of the state. When the crisis comes, the people may turn in desperation to the hero-administrator, the misty figure somewhere at the summit. But in the end, that heroadministrator will not save the republic, although he may govern for a time by force. A democratic republic cannot long endure unless a great many of its citizens stand ready and willing to brighten the corner where they are, and to sacrifice much for the nation, if need be.
"For the past five or six decades, several perceptive observers have remarked, an increasing proportion of the American population has ceased to feel responsible for the common defense, for productive work, for choosing able men and women to represent them in politics, for accepting personal responsibility for the needs of the community, or even for their own livelihood. Unless this deterioration is arrested, the responsible citizens will be too few to support and protect the irresponsible. By 1978 there were more people receiving regular government checks than there were workers in the private sector.
"What follows, if we are to judge by the history of fallen civilizations, is described by Albert Jay Nock in his book Memoirs of a Superfluous Man (1943):
"... closer centralization; a steadily growing bureaucracy; State power and faith in State power increasing; social power and faith in social power diminishing; the State absorbing a continually larger proportion of the national income; production languishing; the State in consequence taking over one 'essential industry' after another, managing them with ever-increasing corruption, inefficiency, and prodigality, and finally resorting to a system of forced labor. Then at some point in this process a collision of State interests, at least as general and as violent as that which occurred in 1914, will result in an industrial and financial dislocation too severe for the asthenic [weak] social structure to bear; and from this the State will be left to 'the rusty death of machinery' and the casual anonymous forces of dissolution."
"Modem civilization offers a great variety of diversions, amusements, and enticements - some of them baneful. But modem civilization does not offer many inducements to the performance of duties, except perhaps monetary payment, and certainly it does not teach people that the real reward for responsible citizenship is the preservation of a free society.
"It is not money that can induce citizens to labor and sacrifice for the common good. They must be moved by patriotism and their attachment to the Constitution. And patriotism alone, ignorant boasting about ones native land, would not suffice to preserve the Republic.
"Thus it is that on the occasion of the Bicentennial celebrating of the Constitution, a mighty effort ought to be made to restore the American public's awareness of the principles of their government, of their responsibilities toward their country, their neighbors, their children, their parents, and themselves to be sure that their patrotism is based on this solid foundation. No one knows how late the hour is; but it is later than most people think. Love of the Republic shelters all our other loves; and that love is worth some sacrifice.
"Nearly all of us are quick to claim benefits, but not everybody is eager to fulfill obligations. We have become a nation obsessed with rights, forgetful of responsibilities. In an age of seeming affluence, a great many people find it easy to forget that all good things must be paid for by somebody or other - paid for through hard work, through painful abstinence, sometimes through bitter sacrifice. Below we set down some of the causes for the decline of a sense of responsibility among some American citizens.
"The growth of an American welfare state, over the past half-century, has produced in the minds of a good many men and women the illusion that somehow somebody in Washington can provide for all needs: so why make much effort to fulfill what used to be considered personal responsibilities? As Alexis de Tocqueville remarked, a century and a half ago:
"Democracy in the United States will endure until those in power learn that they can perpetuate themselves through taxation."
"In other words, the temptation of public men in Washington is always to offer to have the federal government assume fresh responsibilities - with consequent decay of local and private vigor (it might be argued that, at least in part, a failure in the proper exercise of citizens' responsibility permitted the development of the welfare state syndrome - that the government owes them a living. In any event, once it got under way and the welfare state grew, the sense of citizens' responsibility and rugged individualism deteriorated).
"The increase of the scale of society and the size of government has bewildered many Americans, inclining them to think that the individual can accomplish little or nothing in a responsible way, engulfed as he seems to be by the overwhelmingness of it all. It was easier to see ones personal responsibilities in a Massachusetts township or next door to a Virginia courthouse, in 1787, than it is to perceive what one's duties to country and community may be in the New York or Los Angeles of 1987. When one contemplates the enormous size of the federal government, then the exercise of individual citizen responsibility seems almost hopeless.
"Until the 1930s, and in many schools later than that, young people learned their responsibilities through the lively study of history, government, and especially imaginative literature that taught them about human dignity and human duties. But in recent decades, especially during the 1960s and 1970s, the disciplines of history and government have been supplanted by a vague social stew," and the study of great literature and philosophical ideas has given way to anthologies of relevant" - and often depressing - third-rate recent writing. So the function of the schools as places where responsibility would be taught - an expressed hope of several of the Framers of the Constitution, John Dickinson among them - has been ignored.
"Of all social institutions, formerly the family was most active and successful in teaching young people their responsibilities. But since the Second World War particularly, the American family has been weakened by economic changes, both parents being gainfully employed (often to pay for increases of taxation, in large part), the triumph of the television set over family conversations, the influence of periodicals read by young people, and a considerable range of challenges to parental authority - many times encouraged by judicial decisions and actions of the education establishment. At the same time, the influence of school teachers and of the clergy in perpetuating this strong sense of responsibility has diminished. So, in some degree, the restoration of a sense of responsibility depends upon the family's recovery of authority.
"The fundamental impulse to accept responsibilities and perform duties, in every society, has been religious in origin. Individuals obey moral laws and do their duty because of awareness of duties toward God. Religion teaches that there exist natural laws; and that if individuals try to ignore those natural laws, they find themselves in peril, individually and as a society. People who deny the reality of the Divine tend to shrug off their responsibilities to other men and women. Thus, weakness in religious awareness commonly leads to the decay of personal responsibility in many walks of life.
"These are only some of the reasons why a 'permissive" society speaks often of rights and seldom of responsibilities. A time comes, in the course of events, when abruptly there is a most urgent need for men and women ready to fulfill high and exacting and dangerous responsibilities. And if there are no such citizens, then liberty can be lost. It must be remembered that the great strength of the Signers of the Declaration and the Framers of the Constitution was that they knew their classical history, and how the ancient Greek cities had lost their liberties, and how the Roman system had sunk to its ruin under the weight of proletariat and military state.
"What may be done by way of remedy? Although America's social difficulties are formidable, probably they are less daunting than those of any other great nation today. The economic resources of the United States remain impressive; and the country's intellectual resources are large.
"This essay cannot offer, in its small compass, a detailed program for the popular recovery of devotion to duty. Here we can only suggest healing approaches:
"Like moral virtue, responsibility is first acquired in family and home. Nobody does more to injure a sense of responsibility than a parent who abandons children to the television set and the peer group, "liberating" them from household chores and study at home. Assigning and enforcing duties within home and family, though it may seem stern at first, is kindness to everybody in the long run.
"In the family, as well as in the school, the imagination and the intellect can be introduced to the literature of responsibility - for such does exist, and young people are much taken with this literature if they have not already been absorbed into a juvenile "counter-culture." It was not many years ago that boys read, for instance, Theodore Roosevelt's and Henry Cabot Lodge's Hero Tales from American History, with its stirring descriptions of George Washington; of George Rogers Clark conquering the Northwest; of the battles of Trenton, Bennington, King's Mountain, and Stony Point - to confine ourselves to Revolutionary fighting - of Gouverneur Morris, the most brilliant delegate to the Constitutional Convention, with his one leg and his crippled arm, refusing to flee from the Jacobins in Paris. In such true tales one learns what responsibility requires. And it was not many years ago that girls were reading about the heroines of ancient times and modern - about Hypatia, Joan of Arc, Abigail Adams. We learn our duties from learning about men and women who did theirs. One recalls James Wilson's words, quoted at the beginning of this essay: "He, who steadily pursues the road of patriotism, has the most inviting prospect of being able, at some times, to perform eminent ones."
"In schools, the pupils need to be rescued from the sham subjects of "social studies" and "civics," ordinarily the most boring and empty disciplines in school curriculum, and introduced instead to real history and to the Constitution and American political institutions. From studying genuine historical figures and genuine politics and literature of the past, young people can come to apprehend what a citizen can do for his country."
How sad Dr. Kirk would be to see that the Bicentennial Celebration came and went, and America's educators and public officials, indeed, American citizens allowed what can only be described as "the enemies of liberty" systematically to censor the ideas of liberty from their textbooks and schools, and here we are today, on the brink of losing that most precious gift--freedom.
Great article. Many links
Loved it, thanks for posting
Yeah, I did the same thing. Also missed the number of later amendments added to the Constitution.
Also, have just learned that the original co-editor and publisher of that volume, W. David Stedman, has written a new 75-page book entitled, "The Destruction of the Great American Dream," which can be obtained at.
Only by citizen action, outside the traditional education system, may we spread a revival of the Founders' ideas, and, as Dr. Russell Kirk warned in 1987, the time may be short.
Having never attended a school of “higher learning”, I consider myself fortunate to have escaped being dumbed down by liberalism.
Some of us are NOT surprised to learn that more college means more liberals. As part of a big family, I’ve seen that college education closely correlates to far left liberal opinions. Therefore, the longer these kids spend at university, the longer it takes to deprogram them into decent citizens ( and useable employees).
We finally have scientific studies to back up these casual observations.
The university system is outmoding itself with an army of aging leftist professors armed with 30 year old “knowledge”. They ruin our kids, they couldn’t survive a week at a real job and they sneer at anyone without a post grad degree.
They’re not learning much I can tell you that. Most college kids have absolutely no idea when any of Americas wars were fought, began or ended and the reasons for them. I donate to an organization of WW2 veterans who are trying to have textbooks include the history of WW2 in the Pacific. It’s a daunting challenge and it’s heart-breaking to have to read the frustration of these veterans when they describe the blank stares of American school kids when they’re told of Pearl Harbor, the fall of Corregidor , the Bataan Death March and any of the battlefronts of the war in the Pacific, in fact anything to do with the Second World War.
They are learning if that’s what you call it how to be slaves and to be sacrifices of the dictator because that is surely what they will be.
I went and checked what the general requirements were at my alma mater, and they have changed in the years since I went:
English: Passing the English composition sequence and passing the proficiency exam (usually 2 semesters of English composition)
Literature (2 classes)
Math 2 classes
Science 2 classes plus their labs, then one other science (this is more than when I was an undergrad) One of the subjects has to be biology, then one in the physical sciences
2 humanities and arts, split between the arts and humanities
2 classes in social studies (history is just one of several choices)
at least 1 class in computer literacy (exact competency may vary according to major)
proof of oral competency in some course
Classes are 3 credit hour classes.
Not much room for learning anything much outside of your speciality area....College is becoming more and more a glorified trade school instead of a place where everybody got a basic data set plus their speciality classes....
You’re welcome. I saw the study being discussed on Fox this morning. I searched their website, and I came across this article. I think it’s a good study and good article.
I can’t blame them when they’ve been exposed to badly-written, politically correct textbooks and indoctrinated teachers. I blame the school system.
I aced it but I doubt that one out of one hundred recent college graduates can make seventy percent on it.
“.College is becoming more and more a glorified trade school instead of a place where everybody got a basic data set plus their speciality classes....”
That it is for sure. I once made the charge on FR that college is no longer concerned with education but is a place for training and indoctrination and I was flamed to a crisp. I still stand by it though. I went to the Navy class “A” electronics school which at the time was said to cover everything which was required for a bachelor’s degree in electronics minus the electives. The entire course was covered in 38 weeks of full time work. That was training for my job, it had nothing to do with education.
Learning to make a living is training. Learning to make a good life and teach others to make a good life is education.
There is precious little education offered in our public schools and nearly none in colleges and universities.
Most recent college graduates that I have met would probably not even qualify to enter a public high school of the nineteen fifties, let alone graduate. It is frightening to realize that they all are allowed to vote if they wish to, most have only a very foggy notion of what they are voting for.
“Education” has been devalued along with the currency, it is now common for employers to set a firm requirement for a minimum of a four year undergraduate degree on a job of the sort that used to be filled by a high school graduate at best and in many cases would have been filled by a high school dropout fifty or sixty years ago.
Trust me, you don't want to know.
It was, not to mention all the back data. Course liberals will immediately attack it because it has them funny things they don’t like .. we call them facts.