Thursday, October 29, 2015

Dumbing Down is Real

The performance of New Mexico students on math and reading are once again in the cellar.  I am not a professional educator so I don't know why this keeps happening, not just here but everywhere in our country.

Just yesterday I was thinking about loss of intellectual depth and read some articles after Googling the term, "are people getting stupider?"  Scientific studies seem to support that notion.  Read it and weep.


Bubba Muntzer said...

I can't say I disagree with this man but I have a few caveats about his assessment of intelligence.

Take the part about declining IQ scores. It could just be more people are taking IQ tests. The same with the SAT. You'd have to know that. Until the relatively recent democratization of education only people took those tests who grew up with tutors and private educations.

I, personally, don't think IQ is that good of a measure of intelligence, anyway, or at least it's not complete. IQ tests were developed by people who have a certain kind of intelligence, to measure that kind. Think of people who have other kinds of intelligence. A comic genius, someone who has a "business head," a quarterback who can detect in a split second what all 11 men facing him are doing, a school teacher on playground duty who can keep 50 children's motions in her head at once and spot trouble breaking out from the corner of her eye while she's talking to another teacher. There aren't measurements for any other type of intelligence.

Also, if you read what he says carefully he's talking about white people. Africans, for instance, have a lot of undeveloped potential in terms of recognized kinds of "white peoples'" intelligence, but probably have vast amounts of kinds we don't even recognize. Think of some of the music forms they've created just in America -- jazz, rock and roll, blues. If you take away from American music their part about all you have left is banjo music. And if you've ever had occasion to listen to Black people talking amongst themselves, it goes on a very high level and is hard to follow. They slow things way down when they talk to the rest of us.

From there, jump over to salsa, which even as it sounds beautiful when it's all put together, is incredibly complex and hard to follow in the way you follow music with simple melodies and rythmns. I think you could go on to say as much about Hispanic people and the different forms of expression they have as you can about Black folks, that the dominant culture doesn't recognize or acknowledge.

To generalize, too, I don't think there's anything the older supposedly more intelligence generations have put together in the computer world that some kids on cheap laptops haven't been able to figure out and take apart, and I think it's just as likely that as computers eliminate the need for some kinds of thinking they are freeing the mind to do other, maybe higher types. There's no way to measure these younger minds that are developing in different ways because of computers. I don't have any proof of any of this, but I don't see any from him, either. It would require a lot of rigorous academic study to prove most of what he, and I, are asserting, and people are probably only just starting to develop the tools to do that with. I wouldn't put too much stock in brain size, either. A trout can find it's way from the ocean back to the river it came from and then 500 miles upstream to the creek where it was born, and I don't think we have any idea of how.

Jim Baca said...

well, you may be right. But lots of people sure seem dumber.

New Mexican said...

Education in New Mexico is not like education in Rhode Island or any other state for that matter. I am always suspicious of figures placing "New Mexican" children at the bottom of this or that list.

New Mexican Hispanics in all reality are not doing as bad as it appears by the percentages. There is a steady and continuous influx of uneducated "Hispanics" from Mexico and Central and South America arriving in New Mexico. That is not the case with Anglos or Native Americans.

Anglos have and have had a different culture all together and as such their educational levels have always been higher. They were higher when they arrived here after the annexation of New Mexico by the United States and they have remained that way.

New Mexican Hispanics, while starting at near zero, education wise, at the time of the conquering and occupation of the New Mexican province by the United States, have made steady and continuous progress over the years. Progress to where if numbers were checked today would show that while still behind, the progress is steady and notable and no where near the bottom..

Hispanics from Mexico, Central and South America continue to immigrate and settle in New Mexico. They are for the most part from the lower, under or uneducated classes of their respective societies. This affects and is reflected in the numbers and percentages as related to "Hispanics". They (we) are all lumped together as one single group statically.

Native Americans are a significant component of the New Mexican educational system and did not have a history of European type education. They were suspicious of it and to some degree or another they still are. It is understandable, they were forced into and suffered a brutal cultural reorientation as a result of early efforts by the Americans at educating them. Current leaders need to understand and figure out ways to facilitate ways of getting and keeping educational opportunities available for Native Americans. Native Americans themselves, leaders and parents, need to do the rest.

Jim Baca said...

great comment.

Anonymous said...

Actually, Jim, that comment's not great at all.

Where is the proof that "Hispanics from Mexico, Central and South America continue to immigrate and settle in New Mexico?" There's been a net loss in population for months now. Not to mention, there's plenty of evidence that Arizona, Texas and especially California have a far greater number of recent Hispanic immigrants, and yet education level in those states far outpace New Mexico's.

"In all reality," facts are facts, whether one wants to ignore them or not. The fact is New Mexico scrapes the bottom in every educational, economic, criminal and quality of life list that matters (provided those lists don't include "great sunsets" as qualifying factors!).

The only people who can possibly ignore the terribleness that New Mexico oozes from its very pores are people who have no frame of reference -- people who have never lived anywhere outside of the Land of Entrapment. In other words, the very same people who want to make excuses for the state's many, many failures.

New Mexican said...

I have lived and worked in New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Missouri. And not a month or two but several years in each and have had children in schools in New Mexico, Colorado, Idaho, Montana and Minnesota. I would venture a guess that I have dealt with as many, if not more, schools as the writer above.

That is my frame of reference.

Bubba Muntzer said...

I'd be interested in where the "plenty of evidence" is for the Anonymous commenter's claims. In looking around the internet for a few minutes I see evidence in several places that the magnets for Latino immigration in recent years have been California, Texas, Florida, New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Georgia. Here's one for "unauthorized immigrant populations":

And this just generally:

Anecdotally, since my unauthorized immigration to New Mexico from the Midwest I've gotten the impression that, historically, there's been a steady back and forth between Mexico and here. Our governor's family, for instance, but people have described to me how maybe their father's people came four generations ago and their mother's people two generations ago, and about someone going back to their home town and finding a wife and bringing her here. There also seems to be a good deal of people coming here to make money and planning to retire back in Mexico, and getting citizenship or legal status in the meantime, which means their children would be educated here. I've worked with a couple of men in this category. They are back and forth quite regularly on weekends or holidays.

The rest of that comment is infused with judgements of New Mexico according to values, standards and practices in place somewhere else. I often react that way myself to the way people are here, but New Mexico has evolved from a different culture that has been shaped by local conditions. There was no state here until recently and no organized economy. You had to learn to make it on your own, and you can see that ethic at work here yet pretty strongly and I think it tends to mean New Mexico is not going to be like other states in the things that get measured. It means things like schools and governments are seen a little differently because people think, 'If you want to be educated, get yourself educated. If you want this or that, go out and get it.' Community is centered on the family and is not some abstract idea that coalesces around a state or city, so the kind of automatic building up of institutions that takes place in places where the state or city is the center of community doesn't happen here so much. And as I intimated in my previous comment, there are things about New Mexico, besides sunsets, that don't get picked up on by outsiders. You don't see them because you're not looking. You have to listen to people from here for awhile to see what's important to them before you can figure those things out. People here are sensitive about New Mexico's relative ranking according to those other measures, but in their own lives they've played by New Mexico rules and have themselves set up OK and are content, and you have the freedom to do that, too.

Anonymous said...

So Bubba, in other words, don't judge New Mexico by values, standards and practices applied to the other 49 states? This state's only 113 years old so its residents shouldn't expect to not be gunned down on its freeways, shouldn't expect to not be shot by its police, shouldn't hold its children to a standard of at least graduating from high school, shouldn't be surprised when no industry moves here to employ its people, should look the other way when its elected officials fail at every turn. Instead, live a contented life at the bottom of every socio-economic list, because by god at least you get to pick red or green at every meal!

Bubba Muntzer said...

Basically yes.

The guy who helps me out is a native New Mexican and he's aware of everything you mention. He talks about bringing back the death penalty and holding cops accountable. Others are talking, too. Society's center of gravity is shifting but it's not showing up in newspaper articles or in government actions.

If you've noticed, on Fridays here there's lighter traffic in the morning and an early rush hour starting about noon. Many people take off early or don't come in that day. It reflect the ethic that you can work as long as you want to but you don't have to work yourself to death if you don't want to. There might be tradeoffs that are more visible than the benefits this brings on personal and societal levels.

One Friday I was picking up a truck at a body shop at a big truck dealership here and while the supervisor was tallying up my bill a mechanic came in and wanted to go home early. While I waited they discussed how some of the shop's work could be rearranged to facilitate his wishes. There was no questioning the need to leave early. Where I grew up the customer reigns supreme, but no one apologized to me for having to wait, because unlike me they didn't think the employee had to subordinate his personal needs to mine or to the company's or to the god of profit. Those things hadn't been drilled into their heads from an early age without their even realizing it. How do you measure the benefits of that?

One was Anglo, one Hispanic, by the way. Often ethnicity seems invisible here. I've had Hispanic people here tell me they didn't realize they were a "minority" until they took a trip out of New Mexico. It's hard to put a price on that kind of thing or measure its benefits, and it benefits both ethnicities. I grumble when someone ignores a double yellow line to pass me or otherwise demonstrates that they see traffic laws more as suggestions than as hard and fast rules, but the benefits of having the ability to think that way aren't measured. I'm frustrated when people don't see the benefits in efficiency of organizing society the way it was organized where I grew up in Ohio and Michigan, but what I don't see is the price I had to pay for growing up that way, which makes it easier to think I'm superior and smarter and don't have to grant people here the respect of even pausing to wonder why they do things the way they do them here or what the benefits of it might be.

New Mexican said...

From the 11/9/2015 Albuquerque Journal. The article has some relevant information as related to this post.