All educational systems indoctrinate their students into their worldview and attempt to shape them into virtuous members of their culture. The Boy Scout’s oath (“On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country…”) distilled traditional America’s cultural guidance to their youth. Bound by honor to a duty to God and country, children were taught to obey the law, help others, and stay strong, alert and morally straight. Americanism largely succeeded in its effort to inculcate those values.Likewise, the progressive educational system functions very competently in its unconscious core function: the production of young newthinkers with a keen sense of progressive virtue, combined with limited knowledge and intellectual skill. It’s no accident that graduates have become increasingly ignorant as newthinkers have expropriated the American educational system. If progressive culture truly honored intellect, its students would emerge highly knowledgeable and intellectually proficient. Instead, our progressive educational system has led to declining intellectual performance. According to one large study only 31 percent of college graduates can read and extrapolate from a complex book.* As Mona Charen points out in her book Do-Gooders, the more time a child spends in America’s educational system, the worse he fares compared to students from around the world. Nine-year-old American kids score a little above the worldwide average, but the downward arc has begun: by 13 they’re below average, and by their later teenage years, they outrank students in only a few countries like Cyprus and South Africa.**
If progressive culture truly honored intellect, its students would emerge highly knowledgeable and intellectually proficient. Instead, our progressive educational system has led to declining intellectual performance.
This dumbing-down of America’s population is not a fluke, and it’s not only caused by an incompetent educational system. There are several unconscious newthink beliefs that contribute heavily to it. But the ones we’re focusing on now, the unconscious beliefs that “emoting is natural and therefore virtuous” and “thinking is unnatural and therefore unvirtuous,” have led to an increased social emphasis on feeling rather than thinking. Under newthink, a virtuous progressive should have feelings about things; having thoughts about them is secondary. Abstract thought – a salient and specifically human trait – has become the disreputable servant of feeling.
Because of the anti-intellectual nature of newthink, progressive America has less regard for rationality than traditional America. As its assorted character archetypes – from Modern Thugs to Beats – have grown in prevalence, their anti-intellectual timbre has influenced America, coarsening and stupefying it. Ours is a degenerate culture: the average American of 100 years ago could intellectually embarrass the average Jay-walking American of today. Nineteenth-century farmers went to school half as long as we do and the ones who did were more intellectually accomplished. Check out an 1800s textbook if you doubt it. Our great-grandfathers in their youth could have whupped us physically and intellectually.
* Paul E. Peterson, “Ticket to Nowhere,” Education Next, Spring 2003, Vol. 3, No. 2.
** Mona Charen, Do-Gooders, (New York: Sentinel, 2004), p. 198.