Education and American Culture

Dr Keith Ablow, writing for Fox News, has some thoughts on the impact of our educational system on American culture.

A new analysis of the American Freshman Survey, which has accumulated data for the past 47 years from 9 million young adults, reveals that college students are more likely than ever to call themselves gifted and driven to succeed, even though their test scores and time spent studying are decreasing.

Psychologist Jean Twenge, the lead author of the analysis, is also the author of a study showing that the tendency toward narcissism in students is up 30 percent in the last thirty-odd years.


On Facebook, young people can fool themselves into thinking they have hundreds or thousands of “friends.”  They can delete unflattering comments.  They can block anyone who disagrees with them or pokes holes in their inflated self-esteem.  They can choose to show the world only flattering, sexy or funny photographs of themselves….

Using Twitter, young people can pretend they are worth “following,” as though they have real-life fans, when all that is really happening is the mutual fanning of false love and false fame.

Using computer games, our sons and daughters can pretend they are Olympians, Formula 1 drivers, rock stars or sharpshooters.

On MTV and other networks, young people can see lives just like theirs portrayed on reality TV shows fueled by such incredible self-involvement and self-love that any of the “real-life” characters should really be in psychotherapy to have any chance at anything like a normal life.


…in a dizzying paroxysm of self-aggrandizing hype, town sports leagues across the country hand out ribbons and trophies to losing teams, schools inflate grades,…psychiatrists hand out Adderall like candy.

In short,

These are the psychological drugs of the 21st Century….

Sitting apposite these remarks are some thoughts from Thomas Sowell, writing for National Review.

Many years ago, as a young man, I read a very interesting book about the rise of the Communists to power in China. In the last chapter, the author tried to explain why and how this had happened.

Among the factors he cited were the country’s educators.

In the US,

Schools were once thought of as places where a society’s knowledge and experience were passed on to the younger generation.  But, about a hundred years ago, Professor John Dewey of Columbia University came up with a very different conception of education—one that has spread through American schools and even influenced education in countries overseas.

John Dewey saw the role of the teacher not as a transmitter of a society’s culture to the young, but as an agent of change—someone strategically placed with an opportunity to condition students to want a different kind of society.

A century later, we are seeing schools across America indoctrinating students to believe in all sorts of politically correct notions.  The history that is taught in too many of our schools is a history that emphasizes everything that has gone bad, or can be made to look bad, in America—and that gives little, if any, attention to the great achievements of this country.


This misuse of schools to undermine one’s own society is not something confined to the United States or even to our own time.  It is common in Western countries for educators, the media, and the intelligentsia in general to single out Western civilization for special condemnation for sins that have been common to the human race, in all parts of the world, for thousands of years.


Even in the face of mortal dangers, political correctness forbids us to use words like “terrorist” when the approved euphemism is “militant.”  Milder terms such as “illegal alien” likewise cannot pass the political-correctness test, so it must be replaced by another euphemism, “undocumented worker.”

Some think that we must tiptoe around in our own country, lest some foreigners living here or visiting here be offended by the sight of an American flag or a Christmas tree in some institutions.

With this potential outcome:

American schools today are similarly undermining American society as one unworthy of defending, either domestically or internationally.  If there were nuclear attacks on American cities, how long would it take for us to surrender, even if we had nuclear superiority—but were not as willing to die as our enemies were?

Think that last is apocalyptic?  Recall Majority Leader Harry Reid (D, NV), Senators Barack Obama (D, IL) and Dennis Kucinich (D, OH), then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D, CA), et al., all begging for surrender at the point of victory as the 2007 surge in the Iraq war was announced.

These problems, and their outcomes, are not unrelated.

Increasingly, we parents aren’t doing our jobs of participating in, and ensuring the quality of, our children’s education.  But at this late remove, we parents need to do more.  We need to take outright control of our education systems—K-12 and college/university—back from the administrators and “educators” who have so strong a disdain for American greatness, who elide the things our nation—the people of our nation—have accomplished.

Indeed, our accomplishments, our greatness, are easily measured, by those who actually attend to our history, not only domestically in terms of individual liberty, responsibility, and prosperity achieved, but also globally in the treasure—both in terms of our fisc and our blood—we’ve spent so that other peoples also can have an opportunity to achieve their own individual liberty, responsibility, and prosperity.  And in the individual liberty, responsibility, and prosperity actually achieved by those we’ve helped.

These, and a justifiable pride—measured in those actual accomplishments in the real world—in ourselves and our nation must be restored to our education.  Our national security—our national survival—requires it.

But there’s another factor that underlies all of this, and our national security—our national survival—depends on this, too.  We parents must retake control over the environment in which our children exist as children—our homes.  They spend a third of their lives exclusively in our homes and their (our) friends’ homes and yards and playgrounds even before they start school, and they spend the remaining two-thirds there outside school hours.

When was the last time we read with (not to) our kids, talked with (not at) our kids, goofed around with them—all without the TV, the game boxes, the laptops and smartphones with their overused and overhyped “social” media?  When was the last time all of you—kids and parents—sat at the table and ate dinner (or breakfast) at the same time?  And talked about the day’s events (yours and your kids’, as well as the news), or about anything at all?

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