Monday, December 21, 2009

I'm Just Saying

"Jaywalking" is a hilarious and terrifying sketch in which Jay Leno "tests" fellow Americans on their basic knowledge of history, geography, etc. Of course, we see the most outrageously incorrect answers on air, but it is truly scary at times how utterly clueless our (voting) countrymen can be.

That said, watch this clip in which Leno quizzes Americans about some basic historical facts in relation to Independence Day. What is particularly striking about this clip is the final sequence: he quizzes a father and a mother and their son about some basic historical facts, all of which they catastrophically fail to answer. Then he calls to the "grandfather," who gives us a glimpse into the inheritance of a childhood education before many of our purported educational "reforms" (and, perhaps evidence of an age when reading was more common). It is a stunning conclusion to a rather depressing demonstration.

I know nothing about this family, but one wonders how the self-confident knowledge of one generation failed to be transmitted even two generations into the future. Writ large, it is representative of the situation in which we find ourselves, surrounded by information but knowing less than our "ignorant" forbears.

4 comments:

Rob said...

Profound. Sad. Insightful. Tragic. Our country is doomed if we know nothing of our past.

Mark said...

I am usually in bed when Leno is on the tube (yes, I still have an regular ol' tube TV and rabbit ears antenna) but I found this segment from his show shocking. I wonder if the participants are purely taken with Leno and being on TV that they just get brain freeze. Our educational system can't be that bad, can it" Please tell me it can't! Please!

Scott D said...

Keep in mind Jaywalking is produced to elicit such a "generational decline" narrative. All the people who answer correctly are NOT shown.

I, too, want a nation of informed citizens in which people are prepared to sacrifice as our founders did, yet TRIVIA DOESN'T EQUAL KNOWLEDGE or VIRTUE.

July 4th is simply a convenient mythic date, as is Jefferson's "authorship." Both demean the role of actual citizen participation in US Independence. Dozens of local Declarations were penned in the 18 months prior. From these Jefferson derived the structure & verbiage(which derives from 1688 British Declaration of Rights) and specific charges against King George III.

JAY LENO can take his trivia, I prefer citizens who talk and mobilize about problems they face.

neomom said...

While it is true that Jaywalking is produced to elicit the "decline" narrative. He isn't far off.

The biggest mistake that Federalists/Conservatives did was abdicating the education system to the hippies/communists/liberals 40 years ago.

All one has to do is look at the textbooks that the public school children have nowadays. "Social" Geography, Christopher Columbus as a genocidal maniac, the Civil War was fought exclusively over slavery, etc.

Also note that this younger generation was the group that went something like 8-9 to 1 for Obama.

These people still vote, and its frightening.