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Kids Can't Read?

19. February 2008 by thebeebs 4 Comments

Do you notice themes in the news? Themes that seem to run just under the radar, themes that gradually build an opinion. Today I've noticed one theme and its a consistently reoccurring one: British school Children are becoming stupid!

Firstly I'd like to point out... no their not. Children have more or less the same mental capacity as previous generations, there are clever kids and stupid kids.

When I was in senior school I had a boy in my class that you could get to run around the playground by promising half a twix, he'd run all the way around the playground and then you'd say "tut tut not fast enough" and not give him the twix... you could do this daily but he didn't learn - He was the stupid kid.

There was a girl in my uni that could write a 4000 word essay in one 2 hour sitting with out pausing, 'one take orla' could spew out a perfectly formed essay without stopping for a break or to review the spelling, it was incredible, perfectly constructed paragraphs first time - She was the clever kid.

Gradually, however, we're being told that children are performing worse than other countries and children in the UK are becoming stupid. In the last month there have been programs and articles about children that can't read, can't behave, and can't learn. And were presented this information as if it's a new thing, as if up until 1990 there was 100% literacy, perfect behavior and unquestionable intelligence. The way some journalists go on you'd think Stephan Fry was the lowest common denominator in 1950s Britain.

People like to believe that in their era or country things were better, things were safer. They look back on their history with rose tinted glasses forgetting all the bad things and exaggerating the good.

Intelligence, sexuality, promiscuity these are just 3 of the hundreds of traits that make up human nature. Across generations, across religions, things don't change as much as people imagine, what does change are peoples perspectives.

For example in Iran their President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says homosexuals don't exist. If you were from the west and you've never been to Iran, you might believe it, you may believe the Muslim religion is so strictly adhered to that homosexuality doesn't exist.

If you too believe that Muslim countries don't have homosexuals or that it's more widespread in the UK ... take a trip to Marrakech in Morocco. It's a Muslim country but in the main square Djemaa el Fna after the snake charmers and the tourist trappers go home; they brake out the rent boys. The whole of Djemaa el Fna becomes a huge gay cruising ground where Moroccans dress up in jeans so tight they could convert coal into diamond. They express their interest by walking behind other men and jamming their 'Attentions'  into their backs, this male courtship can be extremely confusing if your a tourist with your girlfriend walking around not realizing that your in the centre of the the Muslim equivalent to canal street, especially when you've been told that homosexuality doesn't exist in Muslim countries.

It's the same with history, we're led to believe that people didn't have as much sex back in the day, but of course they did. Promiscuity isn't a new thing, sex outside of marriage happened, People had numerous sex partner I'll argue with anyone that says people today are having more sex than people had in the 1940s, it's just we have more information and a different perspective.

The New advent is a Catholic encyclopedia, it shows the exact kind of denial that I'm talking about, take for example this passage in their section on marriage: "All authorities agree that during historical times promiscuity has been either non-existent or confined to a few small groups." http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09693a.htm

As we move away from a religious state in the UK it appears that things get worse, morals fall, people have more sex and kids get stupider, but this is in my opinion this has far more to do with the fact that we know more about other people than ever before. It's safer to talk about things in the UK than it was. If your gay your probably not going to be burned at the stake, if you call a teddy bear Jesus your not going to be put in prison.

I strongly believe human urges and behaviors are universal, the restraints that are placed upon them by governments and religion are what create the perception that things are better or worse in some places than in others.

Anyway! Back to my initial point, perception and the way we are presented facts are what makes us think things are better or worse, if were told by the media that kids are stupid a good proportion of people will believe that. The media has a great ability to make us think things are getting worse, below you can see how two different journalists can look at the same facts and draw very different conclusions.

UK among school science leaders 

UK schools beaten by Estonia in science skills

One goes with the theme that British kids are getting stupider one recognizes the fact that 14th place out of 57 isn't bad.

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