by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
A growing body of research shows that IQs and intellectual abilities have steadily been decreasing among people born after 1975. Ten years after the publishing of “The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future,” a best-seller by then-Emory professor Mark Bauerlein, evidence suggests we are only getting stupider. Bauerlein discussed with me where America stands on the one-decade anniversary of his book.
Bauerlein’s book begins with a review of American students’ embarrassing knowledge deficits, skewering academia’s over-emphasis on what it calls “critical thinking,” its misguided promotion of screen time in school, and its short-sighted undermining of the role of older, experienced mentors. …
… Since then, notes Bauerlein, “things are worse in several areas and flat in others.” He adds:
“The SAT, for instance, added a writing component in 2006, and scores dropped every year afterwards except two years when they were flat. … If you check college readiness scores on the ACT, also, you find a significant drop in the last eight or nine years. Things are so dismal and disappointing that people don’t even talk about it very much any more.”
As for technological oversaturation, students’ greater access to smartphones and similar devices in the last decade proves this an even greater problem. So do the many popular titles urging people to limit their and their children’s screen time.
Our education system also continues to abdicate its own authorities — the experience of elders, pedagogical tradition, and a canon of inherited Western knowledge — in favor of yet further adolescent autonomy, self-determination, and “social-emotional learning.”