Monday, November 20, 2006

Dumbing Down American Students

Dumbing Down American Students: Really Bad Textbooks
by Amy Cortez, Editor - The Eclectic Telegraph
In general, we do not use textbooks in our homeschool and recently I was reminded why. My student is taking a US Government course through a correspondence high school that uses a textbook I would have definately NOT chosen.


A chapter exam asked my student the following question.

Which of the following is not a goal of government?

  1. to provide order to a group of people
  2. to tell people who they can marry
  3. to protect people against various dangers
  4. to promote the public good.

Being the ever aware citizen that my student is and up on current events, not only was this multiple choice question singled out as outrageous, a rather interesting essay accompanied the test question.

This same text also introduced the first amendment of the Bill of Rights as "The right to "Freedom of Religion"(it later revealed the true content of the amendment) and it again referred to it as "The right to "Freedom of Religion"in a test question. Made my student nuts. Now many American citizens, including my student, know this amendment states:

Amendment I
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

This amendment, a personal favorite for discussion around our house, clearly translates to Separation of Church and State. The Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom co-authored by founding fathers, Jefferson and Madison also comes up in discussions at our house, so needless to say, yet another interesting essay accompanied this test question that referred to this amendment inappropriately.

To me, it is no wonder American students fall behind in comparison to students of other countries and that we have such a high number of high school dropouts. The materials our students are exposed to everyday in the Public school system is not engaging or even interesting. Their academic experiences even less interesting.

Dropout Nation
By NATHAN THORNBURGH / SHELBYVILLE
Posted Sunday, Apr. 9, 2006
The number of high school students who leave before graduating is higher--much higher--than you think. Inside one town's struggle to reverse the tide. [read on]

The Silent Epidemic: Perspectives on High School Dropouts
March 2006 , Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Why do students drop out?


  • 47 percent of dropouts said classes weren't interesting
  • 69 percent were not motivated to work hard; 66 percent would have worked harder if more had been demanded of them.
  • 81 percent called for more "real-world" learning opportunities
  • 75 percent wanted smaller classes with more individual instruction
  • 71 percent favored better communication between parents and schools and more involvement from parents

Listen to NPR on this topic or [read on]

In this edition of our newletter, OldSage looks at why the textbooks our students are exposed to are so bad. I was surprised at the findings.....

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