I dislike the evolution (if only it were backwards develop!) of American English language. This became evident at the hotel in the Maldives, where American culture and English has a (negative) impact on much of the staff. Many are from the US colony of Philippines, which produces most the the domestic staff hotel staff for Asia. The country also produces a great deal of US hospital staff, because doctors can make more as a nurse or technician than they do at home.
Anyways, this became evident during a conversation with the girl taking room service orders. Because I did not understand her greeting, I wanted to confirm that I had the right number. The conversation went as follows:
“Yes, Mr. Thomas.” (Typical greeting in much of Asia).
“I would like one club sandwich.”
“Absolutely, Mr. Thomas.”
This threw me a bit, but I recovered quickly, recalling that this is the way stupid American girls butcher the language.
“Uh, and, one coke.”
“Definitely, Mr. Thomas. Let me repeat your order.”
Absolutely? Definitely? What about “Okay”...or “Yes”?
I do not blame the girl. She cannot help picking up bad English from trash US television programs. And, television writers listen to the garbage spoken on the street and at schools, where language is not a priority. Confucius said something about the importance of getting language correct. Too bad Americans never studied The Analects.
Stories about recent PISA test scores having been dominating some media. Once again, the US has scored poorly. Politicians will be happy, because they have managed to dumb down future voters and have a tool for further changes. And, they will be able to use misinterpretation of the data and spending numbers to fool the poorly educated.
I was interested to learn (see the following video) that many use this data in their attempts to turn schools into profit machines and to attack unions. Politicians--mostly Republican--have become masterful at turning anything into an argument for privatization, so that someone can make more money...to give to them.
Anyone interested in education should find the following video interesting. Sadly, this will have little or no effect on the trend to worsen education in the United States, while claiming the opposite.
I’m glad I went to school when I did. This New Yorker proves the point:
AMERICA’S DECLINE, BY THE NUMBERS
In basic literacy, numeracy, and problem-solving skills,
young Americans have now fallen behind almost all of their peers
in other advanced countries…
Every time you stop a school, you will have to build a jail.
What you gain at one end you lose at the other. It's like feeding a dog on his own tail.
It won't fatten the dog.
NB. What's becoming more profitable, and what is being cut in the US?
It’s official: I am not as smart as an 8th grader...in 1912. Although I could answer many of the questions, some are irrelevant to modern life...which is merely a lame excuse.
Happy my children went to school elsewhere...
If anyone thinks that Americans are poorly educated now, well, they should head for the hills...or stick their heads in the sand, which seems to be the default position on education.
School curricula have been becoming easier over time, but this new move will lower intelligence levels and make most voters (those unable to afford private schools) comparable to slugs.
N.B. Both my children feel that To Kill A Mockingbird was one of the best, if not the best, book they read in school.
The conclusion I extracted from the linked article fits to story I read years ago about the steadily decreasing intellectual demands of the US public school curricula.
"A hunter-gatherer who did not correctly conceive a solution to providing food or shelter probably died, along with his or her progeny, whereas a modern Wall Street executive that made a similar conceptual mistake would receive a substantial bonus and be a more attractive mate. Clearly extreme selection is a thing of the past."
I read the following quote (but forgot to note where):
“The modern world--the one evident from observing human life--revolves around money, sex, power, and entertainment. If we are to believe what we see on television, too many people value brands more than knowledge/ideas.”
This provoked some thought. No one should have an issue with the first sentence. As the writer points out: this is evident. There is no value judgement. Sex is driven by nature and even the best attempts of humans to reign it in have failed. Money has become a prime measurement of success and necessity for even basic life. Power is, again, driven by nature. Competition is the human behavior equivalent of gravity. Entertainment is necessary to fill people’s time, now that humans have developed beyond hunting & gathering and even subsistence farming. None of that precludes the need for and/or interest in knowledge.
The second sentence suggests criticism and raises some questions, which would make interesting debate topics for intelligent people. What would humans to to keep busy between being born and death, if they did not work or watch television? What would modern life be like without daily conveniences and branded products. If one studies the evolution of packaging, the convenience and reliability of branded goods is evident. Therefore, does that make valuing brands over ideas wrong? Perhaps, there are people that value both (I am one). This becomes a question of magnitude. What is “too many”?
I am not sure who is to blame for the dumbing down of society. Perhaps the government or, more specifically, people responsible for education. I once read an article on the required learning of a high school graduate in the late 1800s. No current high school student--and few, if any, college graduates--could pass the test. That suggests that schools have become easier, which has led to the dumbing down of citizens. Was this a planned attempt to make voters less-discerning and more easily manipulated with lies?
Entertaining is easier than educating; and, being entertained is easier than learning/thinking. Given the standard distribution of intelligence (and I assume interest in learning), half the population resides on the “below average” side of the bell curve. If one takes two thirds or three fourths, then a whole bunch of folks are happy that school has become easier, tune in to whatever turns them on, and are easily lured by the siren song of brand advertising.
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.