Cultural Literacy Alert! Americans Lacking Common Knowledge

Several years ago, I was watching the television series Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader? when the contestant was asked during which month Columbus Day takes place.
His reply was September.

Of course, that is the wrong answer- Columbus Day takes place in October. What is interesting (or sad) is this contestant had majored in history and was a law student.

But such scenarios are increasing common, and they have been occurring for years. This problem is known as lack of cultural literacy (defined as the ability to understand and participate fluently in a given culture). It can also be defined as having the background knowledge that people assume one might already have. But the simple definition would be general knowledge.

There are many examples of how people (Americans in particular) have a lack of cultural literacy. Not knowing specific dates of historical events (as previously mentioned) is just one example. History, political science, and geography appear to be the subjects which some Americans have a lack of knowledge (or even interest) in. Examples vary from what was the first war Americans fought in to who is responsible for making laws at the federal level to being able to name all fifty states.

But the cultural literacy issue is not limited to those three subjects. Literature, music, art, architecture, religion, science, technology, mathematics, and economics have also taken a beating when it comes to lack of general knowledge. The next thing you know, people will have little, if any, grasp of the three R’s (reading, ‘riting, and ‘rithmetic)- and we might already have reached that point.

Why are people lacking such general knowledge? Were they not taught such things in school? Were they just not interested, or did they choose not to retain such knowledge?
Although apathy and ignorance have played a role, the teachers themselves are a main source of the problem. Reasons vary from the teacher assuming that the students already know certain material to political correctness and indoctrination (the latter reasons being more of an issue recently).

Common core (introduced in the mid-1990s and somewhat reflective of the two latter reasons) is only part of the problem, especially since it focuses primarily on the three R’s. In today’s politically correct world, teachers not only avoid particular areas of subjects that might be regarded as offensive to some, but they also seek to indoctrinate their students with liberal beliefs (keep in mind more teachers are liberal these days). Examples are as follows:

— America (and Western Civilization for that matter) was a genocidal, bigoted society

— Christianity is the white man’s religion

— Barack Obama is the greatest thing to ever happen to America

— Evolution is the only scientifically-approved theory in most of academia

–Global warming is real, and a serious threat (and America is responsible for it)

— Many people are born gay

— Islam is a religion of peace

Thus, the dumbing-down of America is the result of liberal teachers who in turn are the product of liberal professors and a leftist bureaucracy. And keep in mind the problem is not limited to public schools. Some private schools are also affected.

What can be done? Here are some suggestions:

— Find out what is being taught in your local schools–public or private (if they stonewall you, then demand to know at the next school board meeting). After all, you are paying for your children’s education.

— Make sure they are being taught the important subjects, and not being indoctrinated with the liberal agenda.

— Say no to political correctness in the subjects, and yes to general knowledge.
Say no to Common Core.

— Advocate the eliminated of the Department of Education. State education departments might also have to go (depending on their situation) and control of the schools can be at the local level.

— If the public schools in your area are not able or not willing to fix the problem, then try a private school. If you don’t have that option, then go for homeschooling.

— Look over the list of colleges and universities that your son or daughter might be interested in attending. Although location and price are main factors, the quality of education is most important.

While being involved with the Tea Party, I made a sign that read “Take Back Our Country” with a list of examples. Taking back our schools was one of them. By following these suggestions, you can do just that.

Image Courtesy of: http://www.flickr.com/photos/83633410@N07/7658298768/

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Andrew Linn

About the author, Andrew Linn: Andrew Linn is a member of the Owensboro Tea Party and a former Field Representative for the Media Research Center. An ex-Democrat, he became a Republican one week after the 2008 Presidential Election. He has an M.A. in history from the University of Louisville, where he became a member of the Phi Alpha Theta historical honors society. He has also contributed to examiner.com and Right Impulse Media. View all articles by Andrew Linn

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