DUMBED-DOWN AMERICA—FACT OR FICTION?
Writers—serious writers—make certain assumptions about the intelligence of our readers. We might not consciously write to a specific grade level (though many newspapers and magazines do so) but we do like to think that if we write well, an adequate audience will be capable of appreciating our work.
Are we correct in making such assumptions—or operating under an illusion?
I don’t profess to know the answer. However, I find newspaper articles, like the following, a cause for concern. This is an extract.
Retired Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, in Boise, laments 'alarming degree of public ignorance'
- by Katie Terhune
- Sept. 6, 2013
Two-thirds of Americans cannot name a single Supreme Court justice, former Justice Sandra Day O'Connor told the crowd that packed into a Boise State ballroom to hear her Thursday.
About one-third can name the three branches of government. Fewer than one-fifth of high school seniors can explain how citizen participation benefits democracy.
"Less than one-third of eighth-graders can identify the historical purpose of the Declaration of Independence, and it's right there in the name," she said.
"The more I read and the more I listen, the more apparent it is that our society suffers from an alarming degree of public ignorance," O'Connor said.
That ignorance starts in the earliest years of a child's schooling, she said, but often continues all the way through college and graduate school.