Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Parents And Students Are More To Blame Than Schools

The Annenberg Public Policy Center just published their annual survey of how much Americans know about governmental issues. The results are ridiculous. Only 26% of Americans were able to name the three branches of government, for example.

The statement I just linked refers to a need for improvement in "civics education in the schools" and "press reporting". But they weren't surveying students. They weren't surveying illiterate peasants living in poverty in a third-world nation. They were surveying adults in the United States. And we're not talking about ignorance of the finer details of calculus or economic theory. Rather, we're talking about ignorance of matters as basic as naming the three branches of government and the contents of the First Amendment.

People only attend school for a minority of their time during a minority of their lives. What are they doing with their lives outside of school? Don't they have a responsibility to inform themselves? What about the influence of parents, grandparents, pastors, friends, etc.? When people are surrounded by intellectual negligence, and not just in schools and in the media, what results do you expect to get?

It's popular in Christian and politically conservative circles to blame schools and the media to an inordinate degree. Meanwhile, parents are spending absurd amounts of time on housework, trivial television programs, vulgar movies, sports, and ridiculous books, with few of them even caring much about problems like the ones Annenberg highlights. Yet, we're supposed to think the main problem is with schools. Or the media. Or Hollywood. Or the music industry. Or some combination of such factors. They're part of the problem, but it goes much deeper than that.

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