A recent study of adult literacy in the US shows a big decline in reading proficiency among college graduates.
While more Americans are graduating from college, and more than ever are applying for admission, far fewer are leaving higher education with the skills needed to comprehend routine data, such as reading a table about the relationship between blood pressure and physical activity, according to the federal study conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics.
The experts who this stuff have no explanation for the drop but this guy has a start.
“The declining impact of education on our adult population was the biggest surprise for us, and we just don’t have a good explanation,” said Mark S. Schneider, commissioner of education statistics. “It may be that institutions have not yet figured out how to teach a whole generation of students who learned to read on the computer and who watch more TV. It’s a different kind of literacy.”
He’s right. The kind of literacy these researchers are testing is completely different from what what is taught in most schools. We teach reading in an academic setting, not real world literacy and there is a big difference.
There’s a much bigger problem beyond that, however, and that is life in modern day America. Our society does very little to encourage adult literacy. Our leaders don’t read and are proud of it. The popular media glorifies people who spout unqualified opinion and denigrates anyone who’s actually done the work necessary to become an expert in a particular field.
We also make it possible, if not easy, to go through life without having to read anything longer than the crawl at the bottom of the “news” channel screen. We certainly don’t expect anyone to read about and understand the complex scientific and social problems we face.
The talking heads on your favorite TV or radio show will explain exactly what you need to know and how you should feel about every issue. Or at least every one they think is important.