Diogenesister: But could your Aunt programme a computer? Did she understand the influence of historical, contemporary and cultural factors in the development of photographic artwork, a thorough knowledge of the sciences - Particles, Quantum Phenomena and Electricity. - understand the periodic table?Biological sciences, sociology? Economics? It's not fair, of course, to have expected your Aunt to know any of these things given *when* she went to school. But that's my point. Kids now have so much more *to* know.
You make a good point. It takes much more to be considered an educated person in 2017 than it did in 1936 and schools may be perfectly justified in scrapping Greek to make way for BASIC. The problem I see is more and more being scrapped without anything to replace it. Between the ages of 5 and 17 I attended six different public schools and not one of them taught computer programming, photography, quantum physics or the periodic table. Was I just extraordinarily unlucky or do my experiences reflect a general trend in American public education? And while it is true that knowledge on these subjects is more available than it's ever been, my fear is that unless children are exposed to these subjects in schools, they are unlikely to be motivated to study them on their own even when the information is literally at their fingertips (online).
Even worse, schools may actually discourage independent study by forcing students to attend when their time could be better spent in the library or learning online. A few years back my state actually eliminated science and math from its High School proficiency test. The reason: most students could not get a passing score with these on the test. Lots of people were upset about it, but who could really argue that demanding proficiency in these arcane subjects was only making it harder for most students to graduate? Most of them will never use these skills in adulthood anyways; so why bother?
And yes, many of them do study Miltons ' Paradise Lost' or go to a theological seminary and study the Bible. Probably far more do these things than did back then.
Unless the kids in question are attending a Catholic school, that is very unlikely. Between the religious right and the PC liberals, most literature has been eliminated from the public curriculum. Milton would be too religious (which would piss off the liberals) while fundy parents would be aghast at Mark Twain' swearing, his liberal use of the word 'nigger' and the way he encourages juvenile delinquency. What's left? I don't blame most kids for being illiterate. The 'literature' I was exposed to in school would not have encouraged me to learn how to read and write. If you doubt what I have said, I would like you to compare your own child's literature book with an old fashioned McGuffey reader (which you can download online for free). Notice that the McGuffey reader has quotations from the King James Bible, William Shakespeare, Samuel Johnson, Dryden, Dickens, Horace, and many other good poets and writers. Does your child's literature book contain the work of even a single author of note? I rest my case.
steve2: This is pretty much the JW view, despite the virtual eradication of a host of childhood diseases that once threatened children's wellbeing and mortality (whooping cough, polio, measles, chicken pox, etc).
Most of those were eliminated in the early 20th century by philanthropic physicians. Now that all the cancer and AIDS research is carried out by greedy universities and corporations who have absolutely nothing to gain by finding a cure (but a lot to loose in both funding and treatments), don't expect any more diseases to be eliminated in the near future.
Besides, many diseases in the West nowadays are those of older age (cancer, heart disease, stroke) and, if anything, show the increased longevity of men and women in modern societies.
I talked to an acquaintance the other day whose son in law dropped dead over the weekend from an anerism. He was 20 years old. Children are dying of cancer. These diseases used to be associated with old age, but not anymore and I strongly suspect that environmental pollution is playing a big part in it.
And let's not forget how common it was in the past for women to die in childbirth - and often their babies with them; infant mortality was once very high and was one of the reasons larger families were prized. With improvement in lifestyles and health, infant mortality is now at its lowest level in recorded history
Well, you've got me there. The only come back I can think of is that these lucky infants may not be so grateful in a few years when they realize what a terrible world they have been born into.