Yesterday we learned that the U.S. is failing when it comes to literacy, and how that has a direct effect on our elections.
Today we learn that Americans are also failing in what many might consider one of our best skills: digital technology. From The Wall Street Journal:
“A new report [from the National Center for Education Statistics] finds U.S. workers rank dead last among 18 industrial countries when it comes to ‘problem solving in technology-rich environments,’ or using digital technology to evaluate information and perform practical tasks. The consequences of that emerging competitive disadvantage is energizing the volatile undercurrent of this year’s presidential race, some observers say.
If the problem-solving deficit is bad, the reasons for it may be worse, said Stephen Provasnik, the U.S. technical adviser for the International Assessment for Adult Competency: flagging literacy and numeracy skills, which are the fundamental tools needed to score well on the survey.”
In other words, Americans are whizzes at posting selfies, snap-chats, and other simple messages on social media, but when it comes to actually sitting down and analyzing and applying the things they read, forget it.
This report is just another in a long line of studies showing the decline of knowledge in America. And as much as we may get tired of hearing how terrible the U.S. is in reading, math, technology, and any other area, the fact of the matter is that those stats are only likely to get worse, particularly as we grow more accustomed to being spoon-fed information in sound bites and snippets.
The only hope we have of righting the ship? Educate yourself. Start small, set aside a little time to be without phone or computer, and pick up one of the books which shaped Western thought and civilization. And don’t just read, either. Take time to ponder what you’re reading and consider how it applies to current culture. You might be surprised at how many similarities you find – and how enjoyable and easy it becomes after a while.
Not sure which books to start with? Check out The Well-Educated Mind, by Susan Wise Bauer.
Image Credit: Library NaUKMA bit.ly/1iowB8m
Annie Holmquist is editor of Intellectual Takeout, an online magazine and sister publication of Chronicles.