Thursday, October 25, 2007

Dumber than dirt
This columnist is a bit like Camille Paglia, a liberal on the wrong side of some issues but intelligent and not without common sense

Mr Morford recognises the limitations of ‘O tempora!’ perennial generation-gap commentary. (‘Damn kids!’)
He cites studies, reports, hard data, from the appalling effects of television on child brain development (i.e.; any TV exposure before 6 years old and your kid's basic cognitive wiring and spatial perceptions are pretty much scrambled for life), to the fact that, because of all the insidious mandatory testing teachers are now forced to incorporate into the curriculum, of the 182 school days in a year, there are 110 when such testing is going on somewhere at Oakland High. As one of his colleagues put it, "It's like weighing a calf twice a day, but never feeding it."
It seems that neurodiverse kids (especially those who grew up before those conditions were understood) who are corrupted by TV are doubly screwed.
It gets worse. My friend cites the fact that, of the 6,000 high school students he estimates he's taught over the span of his career, only a small fraction now make it to his grade with a functioning understanding of written English. They do not know how to form a sentence. They cannot write an intelligible paragraph.
Twelve years in the newspaper business have shown this to me. In a way it’s a gold mine as it gives me lots to do! (Rewriting stuff, a creative outlet for me and a reason I like my work.) But at the same time I share this teacher’s frustration and wonderment at the stupidity of the situation. I’ve worked with real news people out of central casting; the woman who gave me my break in the business was a national reporter in the ’60s on a first-name basis with the Mercury astronauts. One paper I’ve worked for was run on the cheap; I’ve compared it to reality TV (game shows made with and for little, the lasting result of a threatened screenwriters’ strike) opposed to an ’80s miniseries (which required historical research, writing, costumes, sets and real actors). An uncouth girl in her 20s right out of school (a parochial type who acted like she was still in high school — unprofessional in a cliquey way), a competent computer paginator who had no training or experience in journalism and indeed could not write a sentence, became the managing editor by default for years.

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