Monday, June 27, 2011

day 38
Oh Abe, We Barely Knew You

This morning as I worked in the Studio, an article came across my desk. Its author reported on the recent release of our country's National Assessment Of Educational Progress tests (30,000 students). One of the biggest headlines? Only 9% of 4th graders could identify a photograph of President Abraham Lincoln and give two reasons why he was important to our nation.

Wait. The Lincoln??  The tall dour looking president with the  black hat?  Civil War, Slavery, Emancipation Proclamation Lincoln? Argh. Geez, he's not exactly Franklin Pierce. 

Sexy Librarian in by Etsy Artist
For some reason, I could not get that dismal news out of my head. 9%?  Well, apparently in 1943, only 23% could answer, which gives credence to my ever-nagging question. Are we a nation of poorly educated persons?  A place where everyone can go to school for free now but whose members are just getting dumber and dumber every day? Uhhh ... could you repeat the question?

Page 2:  What does Abraham Lincoln Have to do with Crepes Suzette and Blood Sucking Vampires on CD?

Today, after much anticipation, I was able to tour our neighborhood's new library. The community had waited several years after they tore down the ancient and small former one, a place where I had taken my children to select books from their summer reading lists as I poured  over the New York Times and Bon Appetit magazines. 

My new library is gorgeous. It's clean and sleek, gargantuan and shiny, with steel and glass and granite by the miles. Curiously though, what I also noticed was what seems to be a  dearth of books. The first floor is generously populated by CDs of many popular television shows such as True Blood. The upstairs houses an enviable collection of public use Mac computers. I don't know what people were surfing for but they were surfing hard. I don't know how many checked out True Blood or The Simpsons, Season Four, but I did find  book aisles on Mathematics, Childbirth, Cookbooks and Civil Rights.

Still I'm a little stuck on Lincoln...and that lowly 9 percent.

Good night,

Want to Know Where You Stand on Your History? Check here
Itching to catch up on the Lincolns? Surf here


Page Clothier/A Velvet Leaf said...

I so agree with you about libraries these days and was also shocked the students couldn't id Lincoln! If they only knew how much he "rocks"---really!

nancy's crystal fantasies jewelry said...

Enjoyed your blog. As a former teacher and administrator, and one who checked out the maximum allowed number of books at the library every two weeks, I am alarmed by what may be happening to our libraries. In cities suffering from budget shortfalls and cuts, it seems that the library falls to the bottom of the list of priorities. I suppose that e-books are replacing many of our hardcovers, and I admit to having a full library of them on my iPad, but it still isn't the same as holding that book in your hand. Are we destined to become a nation of techo-freaks who are unable to read or communicate without a smart phone or iPad at hand?

Wanda Fleming said...

Thanks for your comments ladies. I was actually very disheartened. Some people stay up worrying about nuclear war and the economy. I worry about this kind of thing because it seems like a death of a thousands nails. I would not even mind the proliferation of technology among children and teens--being a huge fan--but if every kid ends up with a Mac but no one knows how to write a proper sentence or their own history, we are simply damaged goods. Not to mention the dearth of attention span..Thanks for contributing to the discussion here and elsewhere...

Linda Pruitt said...

I'm with you! Our kids don't get a great education anymore! Much less do they WANT one, with all the digital stuff they own. Whose fault is it?! I think the parents should step up a little bit more and make sure their kids know about their history! My dad gave us the traditional "4th of July Liberty in USA" speech ever 4th before we ate the BBQ. It was from his heart and we learned to appreciate our country! (just thought I would say, since it is almost the independance day holiday.)

Wanda Fleming said...

I agree Linda. I think parents have to do a better job around history, civics and even service to your community and neighbors. Children do not learn these things on their own.

Wanda at River Girls

Fleur de Lis Quilts said...

Timely article and good questions to ask. As a middle/high school librarian, I'll step down from my soapbox since you handled that for me. I do appreciate that someone is thinking about these issues. By the way, I don't look like the librarian in the photo, but then I never did!

Wanda of River Girls 365 said...

LOL...well the Librarian in the picture is what --16??? lol First campus job I ever had was in a library. ;-)

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