Is Education Firing Blanks?

Have you ever watched any of these “man on the street” interviews where the interviewer asks people basic knowledge questions? One of the best at this is Jesse Watters, who shows up regularly on The O’Reilly Factor. Last night, he was asking people some really hard questions, like “Who was the first president of the United States?” Blank faces. “Who bombed Pearl Harbor”? More blanks. “Who was president during WWII”? Guesses included Abraham Lincoln and George Bush.

I trust none of those questions stumped you.

I was reminded of a Mallard Fillmore cartoon I saw recently:

Good Presentation

A little far-fetched? Perhaps. But if you’ve seen and heard the things I’ve seen and heard as a university professor, you wouldn’t put it beyond the realm of possibility in some cases.

We have a generation that generally doesn’t like to read—sometimes that’s because they’ve never been taught how to read, apparently. And I’m talking about those who are in college. Having to read a history book and be quizzed over what you have read is becoming “unfair.” A professor who requires that has “unrealistic expectations.” That professor “enjoys” failing students.

Yes, I’ve heard all of those.

Of course, this starts earlier in life:


Just try to straighten someone out with facts and see what can happen.

I only raise this issue today because I’m concerned with the state of education. When we have a society that says feelings trump logical thinking, we are in danger. When we push “inventive spelling” or move students along to the next level when they’re not ready—because we don’t wish to damage their self-esteem—we are creating a self-absorbed citizenry.

When we then tell all of these poorly educated students that they should go to college, we’re dumbing down what college is supposed to be.

Don’t misunderstand me. I’m fully dedicated to teaching anyone who is in any class I teach. My goal is to help them be what God has called them to be. But we also need to recognize the problem and do what we can to change course.

By the way, Mr. President, two years of community college provided “free”—i.e., at taxpayer expense—is no solution. That only contributes to the problem.