So, what do we do about it? We do what our founding fathers did: we educate ourselves and we teach our children. True education has nothing to do with institutions. It has to do with caring enough about things outside of our selves to be curious. It has to do with fitting facts into that curiosity, with connecting those facts to each other. It has to do with a love for truth. Finding information is not difficult; we’re swimming in it. Books are cheap and available at the library, which also provides free internet access. KLOS.
- The basic doctrines and stories of the Bible -- whether you are Christian or not. Our civilization is built on the ideas taught in the Bible, our literature is replete with Biblical allusions, and our deepest assumptions about right and wrong reside there.
- The most important Americans in our history – the issues they faced, the solutions they found, the decisions they made, the places they went, the wars they fought, the things they invented. Today we are repeating our worst mistakes because so few people know what they were; we’re not going back to effective solutions for the same reason.
- The way things work – from capitalism to metamorphosis, from digestion to the internal combustion engine, from Congress to germination. KLOS.
- Language – English first. The average high school student has a working vocabulary of only about 500 words, yet the Oxford English Dictionary lists 622,000. Before you get judgmental about those stupid kids, the average college grad only uses about 20,000 of those words. We cannot know truth without language, and we can’t discern lies either.
- Math and logic, which, like language, are skills more than bodies of knowledge. Truly educated people are capable of disciplining their thinking into objective, rational patterns. How are we to solve our national problems if all we can do is react subjectively?
- Geography. It was Mark Twain who once said, “God invented war to teach Americans geography.” If he thought we were ignorant on that score a hundred years ago, he should see us now. A recent man-on-the-street interviewer had trouble finding a high school student who could list the countries with which we share a border. One of those borders could cost us our national sovereignty; seems we should know where it is.
- The arts. All of them – music, painting, sculpture, architecture, dance, theatre, literature, poetry. These are the studies that humanize us, that civilize us, and many educational experiments show a strong correlation between involvement in the arts and increased learning.