WS>>Artificial stupidity

carl william spitzer iv cwsiv_2nd at JUNO.COM
Wed Nov 12 12:47:41 MST 2003

Except in the case of democrats the stupidity is natural.  CWSIV

          by Thomas Sowell

          A  recent news story about a teacher who  assigned  her
     students to write anti-war letters may have seemed like just
     an  isolated episode, but teachers using students for  their
     own little ego trips is by no means uncommon.

           Perhaps  the  worst recent example was a  teacher  who
     unleashed  her venom on the children of  military  personnel
     who had gone off to fight in Iraq.

           Just  last  week I received a bundle of  letters  from
     students  who  have apparently been given an  assignment  to
     write  to me by a teacher in an English class in  Flat  Rock
     High  School  in Flat Rock, Mich. This was occasioned  by  a
     column  of mine that said some things that were not  politi-
     cally correct.

           The  first  of these letters was from a girl  who  in-
     formed me, from her vast store of teenage wisdom, of  things
     I  knew 30 years ago, and closed by telling me I  needed  to
     find out about poverty. Since I spent more years in  poverty
     than  she has spent in the world, this would be funny if  it
     were not so sad.

           With American students consistently scoring at or near
     the  bottom  on  international tests, you  would  think  our
     schools  would  have better things to do than tell  kids  to
     write  letters  to strangers, spouting off about  things  of
     which they know little or nothing.

           Flat Rock High School's envelopes, in which the  stud-
     ents  wrote their assigned letters, have the  motto:  "Where
     Tomorrow's  Leaders Learn." Sadly, they are learning not  to
     be leaders but to be sheeplike followers, repeating  politi-
     cally  correct notions and reacting with snotty  remarks  to
     anyone who contradicts them.

           It is bad enough when someone takes the position  that
     he  has made up his mind and doesn't want to be confused  by
     the  facts. It is worse when someone else makes up his  mind
     for  him and then he dismisses any facts to the contrary  by
     attributing bad motives to those who present those facts.

           Creating  mindless followers is one of the  most  dan-
     gerous things our public schools are doing. Young people who
     know  only how to vent their emotions, and not how to  weigh
     opposing  arguments through logic and evidence, are  sitting
     ducks  for  the next talented demagogue who comes  along  in
     some  cult or movement, including movements like those  that
     put the Nazis in power in Germany.

           At one time, the educator's creed was: "We are here to
     teach  you how to think, not what to think." Today,  schools
     across  the  country are teaching students  what  to  think
     whether  about  the environment, the war, social  policy  or

           Even  if what they teach were true, that would  be  of
     little  use to these young people in later life. Issues  and
     conditions  change  so much over time that  even  the  truth
     about today's issues becomes irrelevant when confronted with
     the future's new challenges.

           If students haven't been taught to think, they are  at
     the  mercy of events, as well as at the mercy of  those  who
     know  how  to take advantage of their  ignorance  and  their

           Classroom brainwashing is not new. I wrote about it  a
     decade ago in my book "Inside American Education." Education
     Department  hearings  brought out the same things  a  decade
     before that.

           When will the voting public get the message? Where are
     the  parents  of these children? Do parents  in  Flat  Rock,
     Mich., want their children's time in school wasted on  their
     teachers' ideological hobby horses, instead of being used to
     prepare an intellectual foundation for their further  educa-

           In the long run, the greatest weapon of mass  destruc-
     tion is stupidity. In an age of artificial intelligence, too
     many  of our schools are producing artificial stupidity,  in
     the sense of ideas and attitudes far more foolish than young
     people  would have arrived at on their own. I doubt  whether
     the  youngsters in Flat Rock, Michigan, were brought  up  by
     their parents to say and do the silly things their  teachers
     have assigned them to do.

           Weapons of mass destruction in the hands of an  avowed
     enemy  can destroy many Americans, but they  cannot  destroy
     America, because we are too strong and too capable of  coun-
     terattack. Only Americans can destroy America. But too  many
     of  our schools have for years been quietly undermining  the
     values  and  abilities needed to preserve any  society  and
     especially a free society.

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