New book.

Luckily, I work across the street from a majorly overwhelming public library. This bodes well for the part of me that never finishes a book, but starts many. I picked up two books today; one, a fiction piece recommended by a co-worker because it is set in Venice. Everyone that has met me in the last few years may find Italy a hard topic for me to avoid, therefore, she paired that book with my amore for Italy, and BAM! We have a winner! The other book, which I’m going to read first, is called The Age of American Unreason. Even after only reading half of the introduction, I am excited about this book. The author has recapped the decline of common sense and moral individualism in a few pages, so I can’t wait to see what the rest of the book has in store for me! There is one paragraph from the introduction that I would like to share, merely because it scares me to death that these figures might actually be accurate.

“More than two thirds of Americans, according to surveys conducted for the National Science Foundation over the past two decades, are unable to identify DNA as the key to heredity. Nine out of ten Americans do not understand radiation and what it can do to the body. One in five adults is convinced that the sun revolves around the earth. Such responses point to a stunning failure of American public schooling at the elementary and secondary levels, and it is easy to understand why a public with such a shaky grasp of the most rudimentary scientific facts would be unable or unwilling to comprehend the theory of evolution. One should not have to be an intellectual or, for that matter, a college graduate to understand that the sun does not revolve around the earth or that DNA contains the biological instructions that make each of us a unique member of the human species. This level of scientific illiteracy provides fertile soil for political appeals based on sheer ignorance.”

Now, I’m not jumping out of my seat in blissful compliance quite yet, but I do think that the author raises a good point. How can we expect our American society to advance socially, politically, environmentally, and any other “-ally” without individuals possessing the basic knowledge of how the world works? I, however, do NOT agree that this ignorance is solely the fault of the American public school system. Although my time in k-12 was wrought with social awkwardness and worldly ignorance, I believe whole-heartedly that I grew into the person I am now particularly due to the school environment in which I spent my formative years. The public and private school sectors are (I’m sure) very different. I have limited knowledge of how private (pre-college) schools work, but I do believe there are keys to navigating the public sector. In my experience, the public schools can be a very cultivating environment as long as you stick to a few rules. Find a mentor and challenge them to help you in innovative ways, push yourself and don’t become an idle drone and most of all, pursue what interests you because you will ultimately care more about being knowledgeable in fields you truly love than any electives you and your friends take so you can have the same lunch block.

And since I’m already up on my big soapbox, I would like to supplement the author’s idea of blaming the public schools with blaming the parents. I truly believe that good parenting can lead to abolishing ideas like “the sun revolves around the earth.” It’s just scary to me that anyone thinks this, and even more terrifying that someone let their child grow up to believe it. If you have any influence on the younger generations of this world, PLEASE realize what an impact you are currently having on our future, and PLEASE do your best to diminish the level of ignorance to a tolerable state.

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