Shawn James Jr.

intern, TED


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Is the generation in education getting less intelligent than the ones before them or smarter?

I often hear people say that the generation after them are not as smart as they were growing up. By people I mean the adults like my parents and grandparents. What is your input on the issues with education? Do you believe the education system is falling apart?

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    Jul 8 2011: I would put it as simply as this. It seems like as our body of knowledge grows, our ability to apply it with wisdom and morality shrinks. To quote the Dalai Lama:

    "Too much energy in your country

    Is spent developing the mind

    Instead of the heart

    Be compassionate

    Not just to your friends
    But to everyone

    Be compassionate."

    So while we may "know" more, we think less.
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    Jun 16 2011: Okay, I'll be the nob to point out your question about education mistakes "then" for "than." The error might be an intelligence or an education problem or it might have just been haste. I scan many entries on these pages - and on the internet in general and find very intelligent remarks, very smart stuff and original thinking - that are rife with basic spelling and grammatical errors. The smart part of me says shrug it off because online etiquette punishes that kind of nobbery - but the intelligent part of me wants to preserve the rules of language to preserve clear communication. Does this in any way answer your question?
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      Jun 16 2011: I thought that too, about "then vs. than" but that error is so common, most people, and esp. those of the younger generation, don't even catch it as the mix-up happens both when it is written and spoken. I know in the scheme of things, errors like this are minor, but I am like you in that the language needs to be perserved, and I cringe at its "bastardization" as I tell my students.

      Spelling and grammar HAVE fallen by the wayside and esp. spelling due to the computer. I can remember the program my children were forced to use in the '80's called "Writing to Read" (but its not the same program named that today) and it basically encouraged children to compose "going with their creative flow" and if they didn't know how to spell a word, they were to just write it out phonetically. I think this was done for two reasons: The first one, again, to not break that ceative flow and the second, I think, due to the fact that the "spell checker" was a separate disk. Being both a teacher and a parent, I would CRINGE at the A's they would get for stories that to me, at times, made little sense due to all the misspellings and these misspellings even later on were never addressed; and because of that, I truly think the spelling skills of not only my children but of an entire generation have been hurt.

      But besides this, I also think because less of our youth are reading now (except for what is online), more are using netspeak than standard edited English in their communications, and the fact that they were either not taught grammar skills but just skimmed over them, or that they were taught them but not held accountable for learning them has made this problem snowball.

      So what is the answer?? I don't think there is one to be honest, as it seems to be mostly a generational divide. This generation may be as intelligent as previous ones, but how they are being perceived is due to how they write online, for that is how we first see them...and first impressions often stick.
      • Gu E

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        Jun 17 2011: I understand your frustration with spelling and grammatical errors on the internet. But I have to disagree with you that it is a reflection of carelessness. We just realize that those errors are normal and harmless, just so long as the point is clear. Trust me, I have made tons of grammatical mistakes on the internet, but when it comes time to write an essay, conduct research etc. I have time to edit and revise before the final product. There are times when being vigilant about these kinds of things is warranted and times when it is not. Internet language or "net speak" is just a reflection of the culture: fast, efficient and relaxed.
        Is it a bad thing? Not sure.
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          Jun 17 2011: tehre is an itnerestnig mial cricrultaing on the intrewbes aobut how you can eevn raed txets wehn the lettres are in disarary bteween the begnining and the end of a wrod ;)

          Paul Grice postulated four conversational maxims for efficient communication: Quality, Quantity, Relation and Manner . Violating these maxims may not necessarily render the message unintelligable, but it is proof that one does not care about efficient communication. And that strongly correlates with a lack of substance. If you have something meaningful to say and want it to be understood, you will care to make it as easily comprehensible as possible.

          Das ist unter anderem der Grund, warum ich auf Englisch schreibe. Natürlich ist Google Translate nur einen Klick entfernt, aber es wäre zutiefst anmaßend und rücksichtslos, dem Leser die zusätzliche Mühe der "Entschlüsselung" meines Textes aufzubürden...
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          Jun 18 2011: Gush, not sure if you were addressing me about carelessness as I couldn't find where i said that. However, like you said, it does depend on whom the "audience" is as to what you will do to clean up your errors.

          But besides this, I do think that there is a divide between my generation (who were forced to diagram sentences and "tongue-lashed" if we spoke or wrote incorrectly) and me being an English teacher and those who learn English as a second language vs. the digital natives. But too, English is evolving like it always has, and acceptance occurs more so as the "elders" die off or just "give in" like me in accepting that "partner" is now a verb as well as a noun. But to elaborate a bit more, if I may. My generation is responsible for the indefinite singular pronoun debacle as when I was in high school which was before women's lib, we would say: "Everyone needs to bring his book to class." BUT since HIS is male only, it was changed to him/her which became cumbersome; so now just about everyone uses "their", AND this would not be a major problem for me, but when my students take the SAT, there will be a couple of these indefinite pronouns on the test, and I want them to know the correct answer.So that is that execpt for the fact that we are still judged by how we write online, at least for now? I mean, I have friends who are on dating sites, and if the men/women cannot spell, have bad grammar or use netspeak when they write, it is: DELETE - NEXT. But WHY? To them, that bad writing DOES equate with the person's intelligence and/or carelessness.

          And Ray, you are right about that study...weirdly interesting, huh?? BUT I agree totally with your statement: "If you have something meaningful to say and want it to be understood, you will care to make it as easily comprehensible as possible." only adding...AMEN
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          Jun 19 2011: Hi Lnida,

          I jsut fnuod a webtise whcih wlil scrbmale yuor txet automatcially! Aewsome, isn't it? ^^

          Thanks for the support :) Regarding your friends, I wouldn't say that bad writing *equates* with low intelligence or carelessness, but it certainly is a strong indicator according to my experience. It doesn't work the other way round though: A correct writing alone leaves you still in uncertainty about the quality of content...

          By the way, in the German language not only the people have a gender (sexus), but words too (genus). And Germans are completely overstrained with distinguishing those too, usually believing that the grammatical gender is the same as the biological. Even though we have three grammatical genders in contrast to only two biologicals we acknowledge! And since almost the whole German population fails utterly at the grammar of its very own language, the generic masculinum has been pretty much abolished in favor of either naming both sexes or applying false (!) participles - officially!

          Interestingly, there are two exceptions to this. First, the "gender-correct" form is almost never applied when it comes to negative aspects. Until recently, criminals were always referred to by the masculine form only. And second, everyone is fine with generic femininum. For example, a male cat is a "Kater", a female cat is a "Katze", but a bunch of cats are "Katzen", even if they are 99 males and one female. Strangely, Germans have no problem coping with that...

          I love the German language though, so by now I always half-ironically say that Germans just don't deserve their language ;) Anyway, I resort to English whenever possible to avoid "genderized German" with its false Grammar. Be glad that gender is practically nonexistant in English. And where it is (pronouns), it falls together with the biological one. You spare yourself a lot of problems!

          PS: Would it be wrong to say "Everyone needs to bring one's book to class"?
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          Jun 19 2011: Part 1Ray, that site is awesomel! I swear that the net never ceases to amaze me at times as far as what people add to it.

          And thanks for the information about the problems with gender in the German language as well...and could it now be common across the board? I know that in Serbian, there isn't really a gender neutral pronoun, and it cracks me up to hear my friends refer to their computers as HIM as in: "I don't know what the problem is as I can't turn him on! "

          And about your PS, using one's would be ok, but it is really more British, as we changed using "one" for possession to "his" a LONGGGG time ago, so it would sound awkward to us. Plus, I think the two "ones" would sound awkward as well, but then I am use to American English!

          PS I want to share with you an email that has been circulating for a long time and hopefully you haven't seen it yet, as it is both funny and appropriate to what we have been discussing. But it is too long to paste here, so I will copy and paste it in part 2!
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          Jun 19 2011: Part 2
          Not too sure if the story is true or not, but again, it sure makes me laugh! And I realize that it is off topic of the original poster, so for that I do apologize; but too, it is the E in TED, I think!

          A language instructor was explaining to her class that in French, nouns unlike their English counterparts, are grammatically designated as masculine or feminine. "House," in French, is feminine - "la maison.""Pencil," in French, is masculine "le crayon." One puzzled student asked, "What gender is 'computer'?" The teacher did not know, and the word wasn't in her French dictionary. So for fun she split the class into two groups appropriately enough, by gender and asked them to decide whether "computer" should be a masculine or feminine noun each giving four reasons for their recommendation.

          The men's group decided that computers should definitely be of the feminine gender ("la computer") because: 1. No one but their creator understands their internal logic; 2. The native language they use to communicate with other computers is incomprehensible to everyone else; 3. Even the smallest mistakes are stored in long-term memory for possible later retrieval; and 4. As soon as you make a commitment to one, you find yourself spending half your paycheck on accessories for it.

          The women's group, however, concluded that computers should be masculine ("le computer") because: 1. In order to get their attention, you have to turn them on; 2. They have a lot of data but they are still clueless; 3. They are supposed to help you solve problems, but half the time they ARE the problem; and 4. As soon as you commit to one, you realize that if you'd waited a little longer, you could have gotten a better model.
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          Jun 20 2011: Hey guys,

          I'm in a bit of a hurry so I'll just post the link about scrambling letters...

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        Jun 19 2011: That criticism is also attributable to whoever does the perceiving :)
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    Jun 16 2011: Well, it depends on what type of intelligence your discussing. The current generation (mine), is being raised in a technology era. I think it is very ignorant for one to say the ability to form theories is lost. We may have Google in our belt of tools; but, that does not take away from the fact WE as people are creating. I am being raised in a society constructed of multi- taskers. Our curiosity for knowledge, has driven us to create the internet.
    Yes, maybe we don't look through tedious dictionaries, or write a letter anymore. But, can you honestly say that if we continued to follow the ways of our past generations we would be in the same place we are today?
    Look at our advances in the practice of medicine, or technology. It is just purely evolution.
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      Jun 16 2011: i agree the reason why calculators were created was to solve even more difficult problems.. i mean if we sit and manually multiply 1746382/24353 it would take us quite some time :) we are the fast generation and we are driven by innovation and our ability to question.
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      Jun 16 2011: jacqueline, yes your generation is constructed of multi-taskers, but we are finding out that this is not necessarily a good thing. What if the net was suddenly POOF!!! GONE!!! Then what would you actually know and be able to do coming from just your memory and skill??? Just wondering.

      And Sistia, yes I cannot imagine having to multiply those numbers, but it can be done...and the fact that people are losing the skill in doing so is what bothers me. I don't know how many times I have been in a store where the sales clerk has lost the ability to see how much change to give me back, and I am the one who has to tell him/her. That is what scares me. Yes, it takes me a longer time to do my taxes, but I first do them using my "original calculator", my brain, and then I double-check with my calculator. I am with Emerson when he wrote over 170 years ago: "The arts and technology of each era are only window dressing and do not give people life. The harm of improved technology may balance out its good." I can only imagine what he would say today!

      But with all this said, I am not knocking technology here, esp. when it comes to what we can do with it medically and scientifically, nor your digital natives, but I just don't want technology to be the "be all and end all" of learning and life. My students still learn with just a book and a pen/pencil and an occasional post-it when they are cajoled by me. Imagine that!
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      Jun 17 2011: I would not be so quick to brag about being a generation of multi-taskers. Turns out the more you multi-task the worse you are at it. Here one study but there are plenty more.

      To be fair I don't see this as a generational issue, plenty of people of all ages seem too be a bit deluded on this one,
      • Jun 24 2011: i've seen that study, the problem with it is that they assume that 100% attention equates to doing something well. the way multi-taskers excel is by doing enough of each task and using the left-over attention for other tasks.

        eg if you're watching the tv and doing the dishes at the same time, they'd argue that you're not doing a very good job of watching the tv, however it's not necessary to catch every single word and pixel on the screen to follow whatever it is you're watching.

        notice in the study how they judge a subject's effectiveness by evaluating how well they focus on a single task? -
        "hey you're only focussed 80% on this task! you're not doing it well!"
        "yes i am, it only needs 80%..."
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          Jun 26 2011: Multitasking was originally used to describe a computer ability to process different information at the same time. This ability was sold to the public as something that would improve their lives,which it has since it make computers faster. The problem is we do not so much as multitask as we task switch at increasing fast rates, even when you are doing dishes by the TV. Would you wash dishes during your favorite movie. I wouldn't. It why even having a cell phone conversation when driving increases the chances of accidents. When having a conversation with a passenger in a car the driver and passenger will intuit-ally stop talking when road conditions become more complex and resume conversation when the road straightens and traffic mellow. A person on the other end of a cell phone does not have such data and will vie for the drivers attention during any traffic condition causing a potential hazard. If we could multitask this would not be a problem.

          Here an article that goes into the brain mechanics of it.

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          Jun 27 2011: So people multi-task on a bunch of low-priority jobs, so that they can finish them and have single-minded focus on one high-priority job.

          I honestly don't think anybody can multi-task on really important matters.
      • Jun 27 2011: i agree and that's my point - just because you are not highly focused on a low-priority job doesn't mean you are doing it poorly.

        i'm sure you wouldn't argue that one cannot keep their place in a queue for movie tickets while talking on the phone? however it would be more difficult to read the back of the shirt of the person standing in front of you while talking on said phone, since it requires more attention, and this attention must be subtracted from the phone call.
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    Jun 15 2011: That is a complex question. First, we have to define intelligence. I am certainly worse at mental arithmetic than I was in school, but I have gained insight into statistical thinking. So have I become more intelligent or less? As we see, it depends on what we consider to be valuable abilities. Personally, I consider mental arithmetic to be unimportant. Sure, it saves time, but we don't suffer a shortage of calculators. Even Google has one built in! On the other side, the ability to interpret statistics has not be mastered by programs, so it is much more important that humans are capable of it.

    Second, we have to keep in mind that the general knowledge increases. We had molecular genetics and the theory of relativity in school, and it wouldn't surprise me to see the largest scientific revolutions of our generation to become a standard element of the curriculum for our children. So the base line of general education is always shifting. This isn't necessarily a positive development: Two weeks ago I heard a biologist complain that kids these days can name more car brands than animal species. Even the most basic knowledge about nature is lost; there are fifth-graders in Germany who aren't aware that meat comes from dead animals! Is this expendable information or do these 11-year-olds display shocking ignorance?

    But say we found a set of abilities of which we say that they were relevant in the past as well as in the present. Then we have to find data that has continously tested people with the same measures so that a comparison over time is possible. Does something like that exist? Thilo Sarrazin, who wrote an extremely successful book on social and educational problems in Germany, cites data from the BASF corporation's recruitment tests regarding arithmetics and spellings, and he states that the performances have indeed dramatically declined over the last 35 years.

    But this only refers to Germany, and the situation in the United States may be vastly different...
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      Jun 15 2011: Interesting.... but your schools are obviously still doing something right as most of my German exchange students do very well here and show up our kids in both skill (and this is with English not being their mother tongue) and self-discipline. However with that said, you are right about the basic skills not being known...and I think that is due to many in education thinking that certain things are/were not really needed as they are/were boring to learn; but they forget that those "boring things" are usually the foundations on which the FUN STUFF is built upon.

      And as far as the BASF observation, that is world wide from what I can tell, as I think that spelling has just fallen by the wayside due to computers and computer programs as well as solving arithemtic problems due to calculators. I know using them makes the process a lot faster, but students need to know certain things and to rely on themselves....for this technology is/may not always be with us.
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        Jun 15 2011: (Part 1/2)

        Hello Linda,

        we surely have a case of self-selection bias here. The students from my class who went abroad in general and to the USA in particular were predominantly the best students in our class. And not only in regard to intelligence: We have widespread anti-americanism to offer, only will such persons hardly decide to spend a year in the country they despise. So while I certainly wish that you have made pleasant and inspiring encounters with Germans, you need to keep in mind that you met a massively distorted sample of our population.

        I have to admit that I shared those sentiments for the longest time, but after school that began to change with increasing interest in politics. By now the situation has turned upside down, and I regularly find myself defending the USA against German prejudices. Sometimes I feel like an American exchange student in Germany ;) A few days ago I stumbled upon an article from 2007 about the "Rent an American" project, and it astounded me how perfectly it described my experiences:,1518,496731,00.html . Even though I have never set a foot on the American continent!
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        Jun 15 2011: (part 2/2)

        To be honest, I don't know about the global trend. It would be interesting to find out whether that is the case or whether some industrialized countries show the opposite development. I can only speculate here, but my spontaneous guess would be this:

        Imagine a world where all people achieve academic titles - not because they are that smart, but because the standards have been lowered. The titles would suffer a massive loss of value, and we would assume that people have become drastically dumber - because the PhDs from the past were much cleverer than the PHDs in the present! However, is it really justified to compare those two groups with each other? One group underwent a harsh preselection, the other one didn't. The preselection in the past may not have been perfect; let's say not all clever people got to make an academic career, but only those who were bright and rich. Still, isn't it absolutely plausible that this tiny group showed better performances than the whole of the population? Wouldn't a fair comparison necessarily involve the whole of the current population and the whole of the past population? And maybe we would see then that the average intelligence has actually increased?

        So let's say that in 1950 about 5% of the population got Abitur, and nowadays 20% do. Maybe we shouldn't pit the 5% of the past against the 20% of the present, but only against the top 5% of the *current* population?

        Of course this doesn't explain why the abilities of primary school children suddenly decline - if they do decline. But while there may be a negative trend, it could less dramatic than it seems at first glance...
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          Jun 16 2011: Thank you for responding Ray. First, I do not know about your school and sending students here, but from what I can tell by talking to all the students I have had throughout the years, yes they tend to be good ones (sans one I had from Switzerland), but more so if their parents have the money to send them here.

          Second, your anti-American statement blew me away, for I have many German friends besides my students, and I have never heard of this, so I am not sure what you mean by me having a "massively distorted sample of your population." But I am glad to read that you are ok with my country!

          Third, I taught in Europe in 2007 and am in contact with teachers from many countries, and from my personal experience and from what they have told me that abilities are declining just like they are here. I am not sure how Germany is handling it though and trying to revamp its system to accommodate the "digital natives."

          And lastly, about your "imagine" statement, I agree with you in a way, but what you say is still almost like comparing apples to oranges and because of this, coming up with a viable drawn conclusion is hard!!! If we are as intelligent or more so than the past, I think the areas of where this intelligence lies may not be exactly the same.
        • Jun 24 2011: good point ray. also even if the number of PhD's remined the same, it's likely the criteria for reaching that grade would have changed, and so it would be impossible to judge without an IQ test.
          i think i heard on a ted talk once that intelligence was increasing by about 3 IQ points per decade.
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        Jun 16 2011: Hi Linda,

        German exchange students mostly visit Gymnasien here, though we also have Hauptschulen and Realschulen in our education system. So that alone already increases the chance that they will come from the better-off schools and families. But I would also guess that they are above average in their class, too.

        Friends are not representative samples ;) I consider all of my friends to be intelligent, decent people, which is hardly a surprise since I select them for these attributes, deliberately and unknowingly. But semi-random encounters I come to chat with, even if they are very pleasant ones, predictably show an attitude towards the USA that I describe as "There be dragons!", a mixture of superstition, suspicion and slight fear (nicer encounters) or condesendence (unnicer encounters). In the article there is this paragraph:

        "Edward Janssen describes a typical conversation with a German student. First question: What's your name? Second: Where are you from? Third: Did you vote for Bush? By that time, says Janssen, the German student will already have launched into a discussion of the Iraq war, the death penalty, gun control or climate protection."

        This is *exactly* my experience. Sure, the beginning is slightly different, but you can bet that when I say something positive about the USA, the other person will reply with one of these five topics instantly. Interestingly, this happens more reliably with university students which matches the statement that "Anti-Americanism is the only prejudice in Germany that increases with social status and higher education". And this attitude is deeply unjustified for many reasons, of which historical gratitude to the USA is the least important.

        I am more than okay with the USA. Don't be surprised if I wash ashore on the coast of New England some day :D
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        Jun 16 2011: I can hardly tell you anything about the current situation in German schools. The good thing is that the education system in Germany is one of the very few things that is primarily in the hands of the federal states. On the other side, we are constantly reforming it, or at least announcing and pretending to. So there is a lot of talk about change with rarely anything happening, let alone anything positive. So if I visited my former school today, I wouldn't expect much to have changed. Maybe I should do it, then I could ask former teachers about what has happened in the past decade :)

        Yes, such comparisons are notoriously difficult. I would stick with basic abilities in the fields maths and language instead of modern biology or political science. I just wanted to highlight a methodical error that researchers may not take into account...
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    Jun 14 2011: YIKES!!! That is a hard question to answer. From a teacher's perspective, I know personallly that I have had to approach teaching literature differently and water down some topics since I first began in 1974, buI am not so sure it is due to "lack of smarts". I know that vocabulary of teens has fallen from 25,000 words in 1950 to 15,000 in 2000 as students are not reading as much. But I am not so sure they are not as smart; it is just they are smart in many things but these things are different from decades back; plus, one has to factor in that they really need to know more than in the past. But if they are still smart, what then is the problem? I do wonder as I see a total difference in approach to education when I get an exchange student. I remember once I had a female from Germany, and she earned an A on a project and in fact was the only one in the class to get one. I asked if I could share that with the class along with she would be retaking her junior when she returned as American schools in most countries are looked upon as not being equitable. She allowed me to do so, and afterward, one student asked her point blank why then was she even trying? She turned to him and in all seriousness, responded: TO LEARN. Imagine that... a student who actually WANTED to learn!! See, we in America for the most part, do not value that actually learn something of value. That has fallen by the wayside...and maybe that is what your parents are referring to?But besides this, what I find is that many (not all) do not see "big pictures", cannot think critically, make connections, nor retain information but due to what, I am not sure and neither do my colleagues. My students also tend to be more egocentric for the most part and don't have the "wonder" that I had nor the joy of learning for learning's sake as they see no value in it, and maybe this is what needs to be looked at again...but then how can learning to read critically and write well be a bad thing.
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      Jun 15 2011: Linda
      You summed it up when you mention your students were wondering why someone would try if they were not being graded. Would you say children are less intrinsically curious or do they separate schooling from learning and associate it mere with grading. If I had to guess I would say due the growing economic divide, todays youth sees schooling as more of a way of meeting certain academic criteria as to allow them to meet financial success. Formal learning has become intwined with marketplace values, leaving generation Y to explore the idea of learning for the sake of knowledge in other areas. What's your take?
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        Jun 15 2011: Good question and keeping in mind that all children are different. overall this is what I have seen (and for a long time). Most students care more for the grade than what they have learned. In fact, we are told as teachers not to even put on time-consuming comments as the students don't read them, they just want to know what they got. But me being the rebel and eternal optimist, I always write comments on their papers; and most do go back to read them once they find out their grade as I do comment on their thoughts and not just on errors.

        But getting back to you, for many students the grade is the "be all and end all' as it will help them get into a good college and like you wrote "meet financial success." In fact, we in our county may get rid of Valedictorian and Salutatorian as the past two year two students (and brothers for goodness sakes) who were vying for those spots were caught cheating (phone cam taking pics of the test; and stealing a test from a teacher's desk). And since we had no ethical rules in place for these two honors, they both graduated as being our high school's Valedictorians. Pretty sad, huh? BUT I do come across those gems who are like sponges and who want to learn and find out the WHY'S of things....and that is what makes my job worthwhile. However, you have to look at our society as a whole, for we tend to not value learning....just getting the diploma. If we did, we would not put so much time and money into our sports programs and call athletes "heroes". We do not honor the thinkers and the doers (like many at TED) who are actually changing the world and making it a better place (but that is another topic, is it not?!).So I hope I answered your question. OH but I forgot to tell you, that YOU, gave me an idea! Next year on one set of returned papers, I am going to have my students re-read them along with all of my comments, and tell ME the grade they think they earned and why. We will then compare evaluations to see how well they did. :-)
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      Jun 15 2011: Yes it is an uphill battle, and it much more of our society's general curiosity deficiency rather than a school problem. I'm glad you at least got an idea out of all this.
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        Jun 19 2011: You are right...flying fingers and small print and me not wearing my reading glasses are a disaster waiting. to happen! However, if this were for a grade or something going home to parents, trust assured, I would have done what I tell my students to do.... read their paper backwards, for then they are not reading for content and can see their spelling/typos better.

        Typo corrected ;-)) and there is a spell checker here?? Where??
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        Jun 20 2011: Helen, no problem. But apparently someone out there felt I needed a "comeuppance" as he/she gave you a thumbs up! Sheesh....

        And maybe TED adding a spell checker would be a good idea!

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          Jun 20 2011: Man, I did not see that must have occurred after I made the second post. Shame on them. And I am so glad you are not offended. (:>)
  • Jul 12 2011: i think there are two questions here. intelligence is one things. education is another thing. i would say intelligence is a physical gene issue for us as a whole. is education increasing our intelligence? i dont think education has anything to do with intelligence.
    the idea that education=smarter is not true.
    if you have watched some of the talks here then I think its been established that most of the education systems ARE falling apart.
    I may know way more than my grandmother about specific things, but she knew way more about a lot more to make her a more conscientous member of society.
    if truly we were getting more intelligent then would we be smoking, choosing to NOT be farmers?
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    Jul 1 2011: It's also a matter of quantity versus quality. Over the years, there will obviously be more information to be taught and less time to teach it. Also, what we thought was true some time in the past might not be true and we may come into new evidence that suggests otherwise, which increases the quality of education.

    I think it is crucial to ask the question "what do we want to accomplish with our educational system?" If all we want is getting people ready to work for corporations, then the system doesn't need to make them "intelligent", just able to work at corporations. If we want to empower people and make them more intelligent, then we will likely have a different educational system that can accomplish those goals.

    Also remember... a dumb population is easier to control then an intelligent one....
    • Jul 6 2011: hence the public school system that exists in the most well off country on the planet.
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    Jun 15 2011: Neither.

    The biggest problem with education currently is that there is way too much focus and hype around all things digital. Changing the tool does not make one smarter.

    Education appears to be undergoing reform, which is a great thing. It isn't falling apart any more than the rest of the world. But even that isn't really falling apart, just changing.

    As the people of the world become more connected, the flaws and holes and lies that have sustained our last 100 years are becoming obvious because people are talking, not just being fed propaganda.

    The powers that be are scared, or at least trying to tackle a brave new century with the same old attitudes and approaches. They will fail.

    So no, education isn't falling apart, but hopefully, the stupid, mindless bureaucracy that has dictated to it is.
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      Jun 28 2011: Hi Scott,
      The tools in some communities have been broken for years, even decades (there is also a small population who has NEVER had access). Digital technology is making information fluid. Those of us who had little to no use of all those tools of antiquity are finally able to access information at a higher rate with the help of low cost technology.
  • Jul 6 2011: I think it important to realize that knowledge and intelligence are two different things. You can put all knowledge into a computer but it will not have the intelligence to use the information. I believe the problem with education today is that we are feeding children knowledge and not feeding intelligence. For example; I know that with a gun, I can get what makes me happy. Intelligence tells me that I can be happy anytime I choose. Knowledge has increased but intelligence has remained almost unchanged.
    I am very new to this type of media and I replied to a comment bellow but then decided to comment on the question itself, so that is why this appears twice. I copy/pasted my own comment.
  • Jul 5 2011: Human knowledge is said to increase by 2/3 of the total accumulated knowledge every year. With these numbers please bear in mind that with new knowledge comes new applications for the knowledge. Every generation has its own advancements as well as its own challenges. To judge wether one generation is smarter than another is not very practical considering the different events and happenings as well as technological advancements in each generation.

    On a sepparate note, different people learn in different ways. Some people are linguistic others are logic oriented. With today's world, people are more accepting of those who do not persue higher education. The problem is not that the education system is flawed, it's that the paradigm is different. People nowadays can choose not to persue a post secondary education and still make a decent living. So in conclusion the generation is neither geting smarter nor less intelligent than the generation prior to this one.
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      Jul 12 2011: I think that the education system IS flawed AND the paradigm is different. Different only because we change the environment and situations but use time old practices (and by that I mean outdated) in the classroom. We have too much information out there, most of which are more opinion than factual and most of which haven't been critically thought through yet will be taken at face value by students who use it. And not just critical thinking but actually seeing the bigger picture -we have too much information that connect to each other but aren't being connecte --just small blurbs and respewing repetitious information.

      The mark of intelligence is someone who questions, and challenges what is presented. How many students are allowed to do that in a flawed educational system? There are special classes and honors classes for that but that's just ostracizing the students and putting them down before they even get a chance to discover the love of learning. I'll stop now, because I'm just ranting at this point.
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    Jul 3 2011: As an example to your question I'd like to tell story and after ridding it you will conclude and get your answer. " I have a neighbor she is a smart woman, all her life (approximately 60 years ) she spend at school by teaching kids math , and so you understand that she is a teacher. One evening she came to me and ask to add some of her pictures to social network site ( it's russian site) and I did it and she look carefully at the process (i think it's not difficult for her as a smart women )but every time she need to upload a new picture she bring it to me. but there is one little boy who doesn't go to school yet I show him one time that and second time he didn't ask me. and so who is smarter ?????????
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      Jul 5 2011: Exactly, we are in a period of transition. The Cyborg Anthropologist, Amber Case, asks what is the difference between storing the library of information we carry around in our handheld electronic devices and putting them on a microchip installed in the brain? The point being that it used to be common place for human beings to memorize vast amounts of information. But now, we don't need to memorize much of anything, we just need to become acclimated enough to the technologies so that we may access such information whenever necessary.

      When our genus discovered how to cook meat to tenderize it, their strong jaw muscles began to shrink as they were no longer necessary to chew. This freed up a lot of calories in the diet, which were reallocated to increase brain capacity, ultimately evolving into us as the dominant species. I'm very curious to see how this new stage of evolution will result. For now, we do not need our considerable brain power to store trivia, what are we going to use it for now?

      Because of this transition, emphasis needs to be placed on developing critical thinking abilities. It's not about what one knows any longer, but rather what one can comprehend. In this respect, there is a growing number of the global youth population who possess incredible and innovative critical thinking abilities. These people are the leaders of tomorrow, as they tend to be more determined to achieve, relying on collaborative techniques. On the other hand, and as per usual, there are likely more members of this population who know how to navigate the new technology, but focus lies not in collaborative achievement, but self-serving interests, i.e. entertainment. These are the people that watch Jersey Shore, and tweet about it, but never even heard about the Gulf Oil Spill. But we always see this, there are leaders and followers. It's up to the leaders to break the hold advertisers have over the followers, and teach them the importance of civic engagement.
  • Jul 1 2011: Seeing the IQ plus the Flynn effect I can't see any substantial difference, but it seems obvious this generation is better on multitasking and worst on focusing on one thing. I think the first fact is positive and the second fact is clearly negative. I see an evolution but not necessarily an intellectual improvement. Focusing and deep thinking is very important to achieve all kind of knowledge and in all life aspects.
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    Jun 27 2011: This question has a yes answer and a no answer.

    Yes: When it comes to being self-sufficient without use of technology, our generation is dumber than the previous generation. Strip away the iphone, ipad, or the laptop from your typical 17-year old, and s/he would first go crazy and violent, and then slump down into a corner as if brain-dead. Our generation has outsourced a majority of the tasks from the brain to the digital technology. Our brains are only used at the "managerial level", at choosing, deciding or interpreting the outcomes from these digital devices. Our parents and grandparents would set about to work with all of their brain and body power, being very self-sufficient. They utilized their brains for a wider range of purposes than our generation - calculator, address/phone book, scheduling assistant, general-purpose machine, etc.

    No: By being freed of using our brains for routine processing, MAYBE our brains are more conducive to come up with smarter ideas, bigger innovations, different ways of solving problems, efficient delegation of tasks to our digital "companions".

    They are two different types of intelligences. The previous generation was smart in "production" while this generation is smart in "delegation/management".
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    Jun 26 2011: i would think the opposite. The current generation is bombarded with so much information that they ask strange and unimaginable questions to the earlier generation and many times than not, the earlier generation has no answer. In that aspect the earlier generation is less intelligent. Added to it, the exposure to the different languages, cultures, ideas at an early age makes accumulation of knowledge much faster now. The children of today are much cleverer. The younger kids are much more street smart. The only area i can say the past generation was better was in social intelligence - with virtual / social networks, the current generation has sort of lost out on the REAL social intelligence.
  • Jun 22 2011: unfortunately i have to say less. "brilliant minds" setting education policy such as incentives to schools for test performance and removing all scores, prizes, ticks and crosses are to blame. they've given us a generation of kids who've remembered a bunch of facts but have had to time after that to learn how to apply them, and who, never having had to face the shame of getting a D think they're wonderful and therefore have no motivation.

    furthermore it's destroyed all the good teachers. if you've given the world a class full of well-adjusted kids able to work out the answers to problems on their own, able to handle the upset of getting second place, and motivated to work hard for their A and enjoy the feeling of success at reaching it, you'll be deemed an inept teacher by a panel of government bureaucrats, psychologists and school board members (none of which has taught a class in their life), who will then cut off your funding in favour of someone who can turn out a 'good' class of kids able to parrot the textbook.
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      Jun 28 2011: Hi Ben,
      Minds are still brilliant, we've just used our primary socialization tool (public education) improperly. Good teachers have not been destroyed they've just gone underground.
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      Jun 21 2011: Agreed. It seems at times as if we (society) really are being taken care of like a small child who doesn't know better and won't question his (supposed) higher authority.
  • Jun 18 2011: If u talk about intelligence, i am the opinion that we have not had enough time to change the overall human intelligence from just a few generations back. What we are getting are schools that are doing less teaching and more Administration/ politics.
    Schools should exist to give a rounded education to children nothing less and nothing more. Since when did constructing a stadium, getting new buildings, installing ipads in the library, paying millions for coaches, making back deals on textbooks putting up a security detail for teachers, making sure all kids are on the same level, teaching for exams, rote memorization, government oversight, child welfare e.t.c become a hallmark of teaching. Our schools (not the teachers), are reducing the collective I.Q.
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    Jun 17 2011: Intelligence is the same, the thing that differs is knowledge.
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    Jun 16 2011: There is no doubt the intelligence of generations increase over time, our generation enjoys the comfort of exposure and the abundant availability of knowledge. But this has come for a price, due to the continuous and rapid influx of technology there has been suddenly a room created for absolute senselessness; example the various reality T.V shows, the entertainment gossips and other numerous social networking activities. This has dampened the creative skills of the current generation. But there is no doubt the direction of growth is clear and healthy. The few who lead the society are definitely of higher intellectual capacity.
    So i would say the education is defiantly getting more intelligent and people have become much smarter. There is room for improvement which is good because as long as there is room for improvement there is innovation.
  • Jun 15 2011: I was once read a quote that went on about the feckless nature of today's youth, how they were only interested in drink and sex and that the level of violence amongst them was terrifying. The writer was Chaucer. So nothing changes especially the previous generation complaining about the present one.

    I would assume that smarts have not changed massively only the context. How many of todays generation would think of banging the rocks together. And how many cavemen would know what to do with google.

    context is everything.

    next time your parents are asking you to sort out the technology they have just bought might be a good time to reflect on the low quality of todays youth :-)
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    Jun 15 2011:

    Each generation is on average smarter... at least higher IQ... It's called the Flynn ecffect
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      Jun 15 2011: But is an IQ test a good source of how intelligent someone is?
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        Jun 15 2011: yes
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          Jun 15 2011: Fair enough, that's your opinion. Have you seen the movie the IQ myth?
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        Jun 15 2011: no need, it's my best answer when you ask it as a binary question.
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          Jun 16 2011: well consider it my suggestion next time you watch a movie.
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        Jun 17 2011: @ Christopher Scheidler

        There are many bad movies around, and a fairly reliable way to spot one is to see if it claims in the title already to expose a myth, blow a conspiracy or reveal a code. So as far as it concerns me, I won't watch it. But if you are really convinced that it has substance, why not present its core arguments? If they are convincing, I might overthink my attitude. Christophe Cop might have wanted to hint at that with his laconic answer...
  • Jun 15 2011: I believe that the world changes and people are forced to change with it.

    Today, do children really need to learn about questions that can be easily Googled? How many children need to know how many gallons go into a bushel? Should we really link intelligence with the ability to memorize any and all facts? I do not think so and I think, on average, the generations of today are as smart as the generations of yesterday.

    Now it is more important that people know how to analyze a situation, gather the correct data and extrapolate a well derived idea, innovation or conclusion from their analysis and data gathering.

    I do think Education has failed to evolve with the times. (Though there is some change)
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      Jun 15 2011: I have to disagree with you. In the past one could say were guilty of over emphasizing memorization. The purpose of this is not, or should not be to just program kids with fact, but to teach them how to make their brains retain facts. Having the ability to memorizes is going to provide anyone with an advantage in life. Of course analyses is important, but the more raw data one has the more informed the analysis will be. Also having the ability to google something does not make you any smarter, than having a boat make you a better swimmer. Its a tool, but if children lack the ability to extrapolate info from the world without the google crutch then we will just have to accept them as our overlord.
      I don't mean to imply that we are dumbing down, but we should be wary of trends. On a positive note, this generation seems much more promising when it comes to making social connections. This should not be underestimated.
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        Jun 15 2011: Totally agree Anthony.

        And we can learn from the past;

        Memorizing was the biggest thing in the past, now we realize we should not have kicked it so much out of the system. Exploring/discovery came in place, now this became to big with all effects we see.

        So let's preach a 50-50 educational method. 50% memorizing/imitating, and 50% exploring/discovery...
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          Jun 15 2011: Agreed
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          Jun 15 2011: I agree with everyone who responded to the original poster. People keep coming up with the strange notion that thanks to the Internet,a person no longer needs to know things. But that is ridiculous! It is true that we did use to base most everything on strict memorization and that is what we were tested on, but times have changed and thank goodness it has! However, this does not mean that there is nothing that should be memorized even though it is the lowest form of intelligence. Memorization is still needed as part of our thought process, for what we retain not only forms foundations upon which common ideas can be discussed and shared and built upon, but also serves as a frame of reference that ties a people together and makes sense of history. Don't you think people should know when WWII occurred without having to look it up?? I am not saying that we need to know every single date that is studied in history, but the BIG ONES that changed one's country or the world is something that should be retained. In short, educated people just know certain things...and with the things they do not know, then Google can enter the picture....without it being a "crutch" as anthony aptly called it.

          But besides this, memorization also makes us concentrate and focus more and that is something that is definitely needed today as we are finding out that all of this multitasking not really conducive to learning and truly understanding and remembering something. Let me leave you with this... how many times did you look up something but then get sidetracked as you found something else of interest or wondered what happend to 'anyone' on Facebook?? What happened to your focus??? It fell by the wayside. And what IF all of a sudden there was no net available, and you needed to know not necesarily how many gallons to a bushel, but how many pints in a quart as you were busy concocting up something delicious to drink?. If you had that in your memory, your smoothie would be done and YUM! ;-)
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          Jun 20 2011: I understand that some of you are worried about my generation's dependability on the NET for easily searchable facts or information, but what the older generation has to realize is the fact that "INTERNET IS HERE TO STAY". It gives birth to a great conspiracy theory to imagine what would happen to my generation's ingenuity if the internet were disabled, and nothing more. It would be an immense problem for everyone young and old if electricity suddenly disappeared from our reality; and that is just as likely of a scenario. As a matter of fact, I read just a couple of days ago that UN now considers internet availability and usage as part of basic human rights that everyone deserves to have; and they will now prosecute any political leaders who disrupts internet service in their country for political reasons, as having committed crimes against humanity.
          Having said that, I do agree that it highly annoys me when some of my friends cannot use a map to navigate strange roads because of their over-dependence on GPS. We certainly over depend on technology at the expense of losing the ability to use the fullest potential of our minds.
          I have recently started a company to address this very issue, along with numerous other concerns that affect education in the digital age. A lot of my friends are working to improve the education process in their own ways as well, because we realize the colossal discrepancy between the values and skills that education is supposed to instill in us, versus our actual experience going through the american system of secondary and higher education. Please have faith in my generation,because we realize that although the NET has helped make our daily existence a lot easier with the illusion of fun, we also recognize the crippling effect it is having on our development. Just like all of the generations before us, we will figure out the proper boundaries of new technology in our daily lives. Please believe in our will to improve.
        • Jun 20 2011: I have the feeling that it is worthy to have some trust in the new digitalgeneration, but at the moment it is an analogue generation that is putting up the rules. And I certainly do think that memorizing facts is still somewhat important. It is simply a matter of effecivity in thinking if I have to look up a fact twice until I really can relate it to the context, or if I can have a conversation without using the words "The name of this concept... it is somewhere, let me look it up briefly!" But how would he look it up effectively, if he even did not care about the name enough to memorize it, not to talk about its defining attributes? (That has happened to me too often, I had to teach myself memorization again)
          Ah and one more thing: Memorizing is always good once it is related to ideas, alternatives and consequences, which is a good practice for problem solving, I believe.
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          Jun 21 2011: Nevil, I am worried that common information/skills need to be looked up to be honest, for like we and even you have stated, they are needed for problem solving...and problems do still come up when there are no computers around; but I am not worried about YOUR generation and moving us forward. I do have faith in you as well as many of my former students.

          Now as far as the net, I know it is here to stay, but I am afraid that at some point in time, even temporarily, that big plug in the sky will be disconnected. Or maybe because I still have a hard time logically understanding that air waves can carry sound and pictures and that airplanes can fly!!! ACK!

          AND finally what is this?? You had written: "A lot of my friends are working to improve the education process in their own ways as well, because we realize the colossal discrepancy between the values and skills that education is supposed to instill in us, versus our actual experience going through the american system of secondary and higher education." Being a teacher, I would love to know not only the discrepancies that you have discovered, but what you are doing to improve education.:-)Regards....
  • Jul 13 2011: Well, reading you're comment, I immediately identified with " people say that the generation after them are not as smart as they were growing up..." I have said it myself many times before... and a week ago, my brother, who is 20 years old, said the exact same thing, which made me both shocked and a bit amused as I think that his generation is the worst... Non of this is to say anything about intelligence though, its not that education is not doing its job, nor that people are getting less smart - I believe it should be attributed to our culture as a whole, the provocative music,the pursue of fame and fortune, the materialistic state of mind and many more distractions and "pseudo ideals" that we install our youth with... My parents listened in the house to music from the 50's and 60's, they took me out for camping and made me understand the importance of simple living (as long as you are with loved ones...), now, 10 year old children, listen to pop music which contain lyrics such as "let me sex you up". I am studying to become an English teacher, I can ensure you that my students would be exposed by me to different values than "let me sex you up"... alongside that, nowadays, we have teachers who are so jaded that they don't even realize what's out there... is it their fault? is it society fault? parents? youth? I'm not sure who's fault is it, or even if there's really someone to blame, and I don't claim that the 21'st century is "bad" for us, but maybe we left some important values behind without noticing...
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    Jul 13 2011: The problem is not that education is failing, it is that SO MANY people have access to it now. This isn't a bad thing, but the result is more and more people that are just in the system because they can be, not for the intentions of a knowledgeable mind, but for the ranks of society and because that is what you DO.
  • Jul 13 2011: The education today is undoubtedly awakening the smarter side of the brain, by implementingmore non conventional learning and teaching ways!
    It is exciting to understand that a child today is nurtured not only to excel in academics but honed to progress in other development skills which, I believe plays very trivial but extremely cruicial role in days to come.
  • Jul 13 2011: We must think the education system is falling apart because we have been trying to fix it for over 50 years.

    How long will we continue before we as a society develop the awareness that Ken Robinson is right when he says a revolution is needed?

    How do we shorten that journey? Can we?
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    Jul 12 2011: The human brain is not evolving it is only adapting. The way we look at the world is changing, but our physical presence in it has not. As Preeta mentioned, intelligence and knowledge/education are two entirely different things.
  • Jul 12 2011: as here in india,yes it is true.coz earlier generations did not have so much of facilities that we are enjoying they worked hard and they really wanted knowledge.but today's generation is being spoon fed and they can't understand the importance of education at all.what i feel is education is losing its charm as students are forced to mug up things and compete with others to score well.
  • Jul 12 2011: Definitely not. The educational system for them is completely different . In this competitive world, the younger generation are facing many challenges each and every day to come up and they are getting success. The only difference between the old and present generation may be in commitment and dedication in their work. It also depends on the atmosphere where they are growing up.
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    Jul 12 2011: Education has always been skewed depending on who can afford it or not. Many people didn't have a chance to pursue higher learning or even finish grade school because they had to support their families on the farm (or what not) -and it's not that they're less smart or didn't want to learn but didn't have the opportunity. It's not just an educational gap, but a class gap as well. Perhaps there's a mission for what a school used to be but has not been fulfilling that mission statement anymore -and in that case, it (the mission statement) should either be changed or the school should change itself according to the mission. I digress.

    The capacity to learn and the actual knowledge retained is different ---but I think the real key to your question is what you hear other people say about "smart". They may have said smart, but what they may have meant is common sense. What is the working defintion of smart here?
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    Jul 11 2011: This is a very interesting question and very complex one to try and tackle. The first thought I had when I read the question was, individuals of the generation or the generation as a whole? Each generation is growing more and more connected to each other and through what has been called the machine of the web. Before these multiple and almost (soon-to-be) instantaneous connections to information, those that knew more information were generally regarded as being smarter than their peers. I am going to delve into a scenario where the conservative thought of more knowledge = smarter maybe lagging behind today's information boom.

    Let's take for instance a GPA in any given course in which you are/were presented a test based on factual recall without access to any of those connections that we have in our dorm rooms/pockets/coffee shops etc. Depending on the institution, you could get 94% of the information right and receive full marks for your GPA. The all encompassing perfect 4.0 GPA that gleams of perfection. However do we really want to have faith in a measure of knowledge from an education method that means pretty much nothing? If we are unable to use the connections that we have that are pretty much integrated into every aspect of life today, is this valid? Do I really want to put my trust into the fraction of the information available that is in my brain? While the conservative notion of education is to keep plugging away at traditional core topics, is this the right approach?

    The younger generation needs to be taught more along the lines of accumulation, critical analysis and interpretation of that information that they receive from all of their connections. Am I upset that older generations can make claims that younger people don't know this from that? Not at all since I know I can typically find the answer plus way more information because I have grown up with having to determine if I should actually trust the information on those wikipedia articles.
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      Jul 12 2011: But most of the knowledge taught is not substantial. It's just things to know about a job or field -but not just critical thinking, we need to also emphasize the deeper meaning of things (not just spiritual or religious, but in this case I do mean philosophical) --we need to be more relatable.
      I remember growing up, they kept giving us these standards but hadn't actually taught us, we had to figure it out ouselves ~~the be more "well rounded" or learn to be global citizens. Yet in our school, there were only three main languages --the usual suspects French Spanish and Latin. There's a whole world out there that unless we actually pursued that in higher education, we wouldn't really learn to be global citizens.
      GPA's a joke because that's skewed based on teachers. It shouldn't be but it was.
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    Jul 10 2011: Smarter, of course. If we take an evolutive time scale, any present-time child is far more intelligent than the wisest man on earth 100,000 years B.C. That amount of time sounds to a great part of us as too much time. But, in evolutive time, that means almost nothing. I mean, differences between one generation and its next one are almost imperceptible. But they exist and accumulate along the time. New ways of communication, education and general interaction contributes even more for this fact to be true.
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    Jul 10 2011: IN Earlier times we don't have so much of resources,gadgets etc...
    ex. when i was a child i didn't have a computer,so i had no knowlede about it.
    now every one have a pc in their home,so the new borns intrect with it n come to know about it.
    its all about the resources
  • Jul 10 2011: Although I have had the pleasure of working with some amazing young people, my observation is that each generation is smarter, better informed and better educated then the previous. However each new generation is lacking the imagination to put their "intelligence" to work. This is the fault of the prior generation.
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    Jul 10 2011: James Flynn, a political scientist working at the University of Otago in New Zealand, carried out a huge research project in the field of intelligence. He focused his research on IQ levels different age groups from different generations spanning from 1942 to 1992.

    The reason he started this project was that he noticed, from the databases of the mental test companies, that their tests had to be changed every several years. As new generations came along they were scoring too well on the test. For example, a generation or two after the companies would have set an average score, the 'average' person of the next generation was scoring way more than the 'average' person of the earlier generation.

    Flynn's results showed that every generation or so makes a difference of about 15 IQ points but he also stated that there was no evidence for the present generations genius in achievement over former generations. He concluded that IQ test differences cannot be used to make comparisons of intelligence and at the end of his project admitted that the mystery of the 'rising IQ' has yet to be solved.

    I think the problem here is that there is no good definition of 'intelligence'. I think knowledge is understanding connections between different packets of stored information and that intelligence is manipulating knowledge in order to reach a particular goal. Now with that definition one could argue that the amount of information and consequently knowledge that this generations' children are faced with demands that they be more intelligent to be able to function in society and because the amount of this information has increased since older generations one might argue that this generation is more intelligent than the previous one. But as seen in the educational system, the standards have been falling for a while and with this in mind maybe children are simply overwhelmed with all other types of information that they are caring less and less about school.
    Sorry if that's a messy answer.
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      Jul 12 2011: Honestly, I think that the reason why the score changes IS precisely because we are inundated with too much information and are having to know a lot. Before, people didn't really need to know so much because they were too busy "living". Since our standards of living has changed, our knowledge has changed to suit it.
      What are we measuring? "Intelligence" to be sure, but exactly, what is it? And perhaps the standards set were too low? Some people aren't necessarily smarter but have better remembering abilities and can recite all the information but maybe not necessarily piece those informations together in a critical (or applicable) way.
      But do we need that much intelligence to live in this world? Or compassion and understanding that which comes from wisdom not knowledge? (*Or is that just all semantics) O.o
  • Jul 8 2011: Than*
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    Jul 8 2011: I see no evidence that basic intelligence has changed in say, 20,000 yrs. Also, I know of no research that suggests the basic structure of the human brain has changed in the same time frame. So, why do you pose the question?

    I do see a difference in they way that we think about things. The scientific revolution was the realization that looking for data to support our ideas or to ask why things happen is very inefficient thought process. Asking how things work and looking for ways to reject bad ideas is much more efficient. Take a look at the progress that has been made since the early 1600's vs the previous 20,000 yrs. The change is remarkable.

    There is evidence that people today have a more efficient model for learning than they did 500 yrs ago. More or less intelligent? Probably not. More efficient, definitely.

    The "problem" that I see with today's educational system is that our society is different than it was 200 yrs ago. the rates of changes in technology and knowledge are vastly different and the society is vastly more complex than it used to be. We suffer from "information overload."

    To deal with today's rates of change we need to stop focusing on George Washington cutting down an cherry tree and more on HOW to learn, HOW to think logically, HOW to differentiate between facts and opinions. From there, the kids can take it for themselves. We are asking the school system to produce children useful to the society of the 1700's, not today. The conflict that we see today is not the result of a poor school system, it comes from the realization that what our school system is producing today, does not really meet the needs of today.
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    Jul 7 2011: I took a College cours last year, and I believe the kids are more intelligent, have had better parenting so they learn better! Smart kids for sure.
    But.....(aint there always a But)....I think these same kids are far less likely to take on the responsibility of life on thier own.
    When you graduate from Hischool, walk down those front steps for the last time, I want you to understand our Capitalistic Republic, our Political system, your place in the Voting booth and your place in society as a Wage Earner, a Military unit, or a College student.

    With so many quitting school early, and so many schools teaching Liberalisim, even these Intelligent kids are going to be a long time maturing into usefulness.
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    Jul 7 2011: Hmmm I would say less. I think there are more distractions these days.
  • Jul 7 2011: Simple:

    Before: More memory, less analysis.

    Now: Less memory, more analysis.

    Both of them have their own pros and cons, but I thing that this is the actual education. Despite some places in the world I guess.
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      Jul 8 2011: I collect old science and mathematics book. From what I can see we have more memory and less analysis today than 150 years ago. That being said, the amount of material available to my children to learn when they were in school is far more than when I was in school.
  • Jul 6 2011: I think the generation of the age to be in the educational system right now is A LOT more intelligent than the generations before them (and I am of the generations before them).

    They can process information quicker, understand the epistomology of situations faster, plow through data more efficiently, weed out BS faster, take action faster, try new things faster, and on and on.

    One of the reasons our educational system is falling apart is that is has completely lost pace with the evolution of the intelligence of our young people. Look at the drop out that can't pass a math class but makes thousands of dollars selling drugs? Look at the drop out who can't follow a teachers instruction in the classroom but is a highly ranked soldier in the local gang? The entrepreneurs who blew off college?

    I believe this is a part of the fall of politics and hierarchies in the US. This generation doesn't buy it. It looks like a bunch of old men fighting over the last piece of chicken on the kitchen table while someone left the barn door open.
  • Jul 6 2011: I agree with other commentators here that education and intelligence are two different qualities. Education concerns the acquisition of knowledge and the teaching of some form of critical analysis to be able to discern what it is important to know which relates to the situation in hand. Intelligence is a far more ethereal quality; it may depend on knowledge but on the other hand it may not.

    If on the one hand, you go through a tertiary education, at great financial cost to yourself, in order to secure a good job, a nice house, a spouse, holidays in the sun, a good pension etc, who is to to say, on the other, that is more 'intelligent' that someone who decides that they can manage on benefits and a little petty theft now and again and avoid the hard work, is of superior intelligence? Who is being intelligent? Isn't an object of existence to be able to gain the maximum return for the minimal outlay? Isn't that what success in an evolutionary process amounts to?

    Is the male lion, who engages in little but sleeping, eating and sex, any less or more intelligent than the lioness who gets to do the same AND does all the hard work of bringing down the wildebeest?

    Instead of harping on about 'intelligence' shouldn't we be doing, as we have for the past 10,000 years be asking the more pertinent question of: have we taught our children all they will need to know to survive in their generation?

    Education, anywhere, is in a permanent state of collapse; we just manage, always, to avoid catastrophe. It has been like that for centuries and WE are still here!

    We still, and will continue to, produce a Newton, a Locke, an Einstein, a Feynman in every generation we just won't get to hear about them as much as they will be specialists not generalists. The gap between the 'smartest' and the 'dumbest' will always be there - we can try to narrow the gap but that it is the best we can do.
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    Jul 6 2011: This is a very hard question for me to answer. There's a difference between intelligence and being smart. Intelligence is your wealth of knowledge. Smart corresponds how hard-working you are or how efficient you are with your time. I think it fair to say that generations before us worked harder, but nowadays there's such an abundance of knowledge that anyone with a real interest in something is going to absorb it. With every new generation comes an iteration of intelligence, or in other words, knowledge is passed on generation after generation in some form. But I don't know, I almost believe that every single person is the most intelligent person in their own life. Put a man in another man's shoes and life becomes stressful. This is very subjective question to answer.
  • Jul 6 2011: The answer to your question depends on which branch of each generation you are referring to. If say, the current generation in the educational system (~5-30) is symbolized as a tree that has grown from a seed fallen from the tree of the previous generation, each branch, limb and leaf represents different cultures, environments and values of that generation. Intelligence is a reflection of these branches and their subsequent parts. The reason for the perception that current generations are far less intelligent than previous generations is simply this... Our tree is dying. Our focus, accumulated knowledge, and general intelligence is based on the experience of a culture that SAYs it promotes well-being and growth, but provides (DO) endless entertainment, a diet devoid of nutrition, and a social structure that keeps most from any real connection. We are reflections of our environment and the environment current generations are living in and will have to heal is poisoned and destructive to our health. Media and peers entrain values that take us away from true intelligence and put the main focus on more money and more consumerism.
    Now, I'm not saying these facts apply to every single person making up the tree of our generation, but despite a few limbs flowering, most branches are withering away.
    We appear less intelligent because more focus is given to a destructive culture, rather than learning what it means to be human, what it means to LIVE and how to do so (education for LIFE, not a job), what our connection to nature is, and how to create and apply a culture, environment and set of values that promote the most beneficial mental, physical, emotional, social and spiritual growth, while reflecting the NEEDs of our, and more importantly, FUTURE generations.
    Thank You
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    Jul 5 2011: Hello, I am a tutor in Dallas, Texas. Our school district is ranked 717 out of 939 in the state. Texas is ranked either last or second to last in the nation for education. I work in low income areas where most kids lack a stable environment and parental support. In Texas the education system is definitely falling apart. The type of tutoring that I do requires me to be in a classroom for almost eight hours a day so I get to see things from the perspectives of the children and the teachers. I have tutored grades third through ninth and have seen kids that have problems with basic multiplication and division at all levels. I have seen teachers cuss out and assault kids. I have seen administration call the police (not district police) for small things like uniform infringement. I think the biggest problem with education here is that it is a business, very few care about the true well being of these kids. Class curriculum here is taught to a standardized test there is hardly any creativity in teaching now. I have not seen a teacher teach outside of the test since I have been a tutor. Whats really a shame is that the standardized tests are really easy. It reminds me of a Damian Marley lyric, "Okay lets face it a ghetto educations basic and most of dem use it waste it and when dem waste it thats when dem guns replace it and dem don't stand a chance at all." It breaks my heart that that is reality for many of my kids but also many kids around the world. Texas actually cut 30% to the education budget this year and yet they are going to replace the standardized test (something they do about every 10 years that costs substantial money) and cut around 1500 teaching jobs. They are telling teachers to expect 30-40 pupils a head. If that happens education here is lost. Teachers barely accomplish with 25 to a head. Honestly I think it is the responsibility of the community to make sure that the children are being educated properly but I think a lot of people would call me crazy :)
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    Jul 5 2011: Babken i think what you are describing could be understood more than intelligence as technological adaptation, in terms of being easier for the young generations to adapt to new technologies, now it all depends on your definition of intelligence, i would set as a fact that younger generations have more knowledge and easier ways to acquire it, its true that now we have less and less need to memorize information due to the fact that everything is pretty much accessible at all times as Matthew was mentioning. Now as i see it the main problem of modern age education is a long term long known problem, and it is that education systems tend to precisely do that feed you up with information eliminating the creative process, today i was reading about mitchel resnick and how he proposed that education should be a more active process, an eternal kindergarten, in which pretty much education by empirical approximation -that is by creating and experimenting- gets the main role, i think the great deal for having smarter more pro efficient generations that really use technology is by reforming education in terms of making learning more of a discovery of your potential, your intelligence in a certain specific area, in all the levels of your learning process, from school to university, that way we can use modern evolution to serve our needs and specially to our benefit.
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    Jul 5 2011: Definitely smarter in every way. We learn from those before us and as technology advance so does our minds. We find new ways of thinking and we take bigger risks, in the mist of a rescission we found ways to still create new things and make our own revenue. We are smarter but only because some of us use the tactics of those before us like hard work, practice , patience. The key is to build off those before us.
    • Jul 6 2011: This does seem an obvious point, however I think it important to realize that knowledge and intelligence are two different things. You can put all knowledge into a computer but it will not have the intelligence to use the information. I believe the problem with education today is that we are feeding children knowledge and not feeding intelligence. For example; I know that with a gun, I can get what makes me happy. Intelligence tells me that I can be happy anytime I choose. Knowledge has increased but intelligence has remained almost unchanged. I agree 100% with the hard work, practice and patience and the key is definitely to build off those before us.
  • Jul 4 2011: In the past generations,that is during the period of Edison, James watt and others since they do not have any developed technology and other means of modern communication system,those people invented many and we are enjoying with the fruitful results.
    Our generation's educational system is smart in educating the students in terms of culture,professional ethics rules and etc....The past educational systems, because it does not have a technology and other facilities there is a necessity to develop and the students turned into "Scientific mind freaks".But our present educational systems are turning the children into "Mark freaks".To make the present educational smarter than the past the only way is to change the education system in terms of encouraging the students to invent the new technology in the respective specializations which must be better than the past.
    Simply to say "The past educational system changed students as inventors and the present educational systems are changing the students as discoverers".
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    Jul 3 2011: I beleive the educational system is struggling to keep up, not necessarily falling apart. Consider for a moment that the entire higher education system is profit driven, this is a double edged sword. While I am for free enterprise I do not think that competition exists in this realm as subsidies allow this profit based business to continue to increase price yet lower costs. We receive lower value resources (materials, facilities, etc.) for rising costs (tuition) and the subsidies are pushed towards the bottom line.

    Truth be told this I think is a small problem, the larger problem exists in the students mentality and the availability of information and education to the masses. Recent generation students are tending more towards the liberal arts education and shying away from the hard skills type education, since the institutions themselves are profit based they shift focus to cater to the largest customer. We saw this in the late 90's early 00's when every other radio ad was for a network administration or technical boot camp. Regardless no institution can teach the real requirement for success "experience".

    The problem today is that even with so much new access to information to the masses via the online world the recent generations are submersed in video games, social media, and the mentality of buy now pay later that easy credit has created. Tuition dollars are not counted like they were before, and the high rate of distraction tends to nullify any educational aspect of a connected surrounding.
  • Jul 3 2011: I think this largely depends on how you view intelligence. If intellect was simply knowledge gained from exposure to new material, I would have to say that the current generation is far more "intellectual" because they have the opportunity to access so much in today's digital age. However, when intellect is viewed upon as not only the ability to digest the material given, but to understand and implement it, I think the past generations were more intellectual.

    I think today's systen of education has more material to offer, but not the correct techniques/tools to engage students, to get them thinking about more than what is written in the textbook. As a student, I often feel North American cirrucculums don't put enough of an emphasis on critical thinking and connecting material to ideas, other subjects, and the outside world.

    So in the end, I believe we, the current generation, lack many components of intellect that can only be provided to the public with a better educational system; one that teaches, and not just informs.
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    Jul 1 2011: I don't know if anyone mentioned here, but there's actually a very old American test from the beginning of the 1900s circulating around the internet. I wish I had saved, because now I can't find it anymore, but I've seen it twice in the past few months. The test is pretty good evidence that the whole educational system has been "dumbed down" over the past century (at least in the US).
  • Jul 1 2011: I feel that that new generations are gaining more knowledge than the previous generations but the percentage increase in knowledge is lower as compared to average knowledge of a person in the previous generation.But in the case of intelligence the newer generations are more intelligent without doubt.
  • Jul 1 2011: I am not quite sure about other countries, but here in India, though the syllabus of various subjects is very very interesting and very informative, the way students are being made to study is not quite right. A lot of students are focused only on getting high marks rather than understanding the subject. This results in a huge number of students simply by-hearting the answers to different questions likely to be asked in the exams. I feel the education system should now ensure that students understand what they are learning rather than simply concentrating on how much they score. It has become so simple for students today to achieve a perfect score in their examinations. But whether they really are as good and knowledgable in their subject is the million dollar question. I feel those involved in the education system are going about "educating" students in the wrong way. The focus being only on how much the student scores rather than WHAT knowledge he/she gains, leads to a fall in IQ levels and a lack of enthusiasm.
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      Jul 1 2011: But do you think this is a problem of students? All the things starting from university entrace to jobs scholarships are decided by your grades . It is not how much you know or your motivation to learning that matters . The problem is with the system
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    Jul 1 2011: This generation in education is more intelligent than the previous. This generation seems to be culturally swayed or maybe distracted more from education than the previous but the leading educational elites are still smarter that the previous generations if they weren’t we wouldn’t be seeing any technological advancements but we are. There are more ads shoved in our faces, more hot gadgets to have, more movies to watch, more celebrity gossip to read and more football games on TV than there were in generations before and we have gotten really good at selling this shit to the masses over time. The biggest difference between this generation and the previous one is the gap between smart and dumb within this generation. People seem to fall into one or the other more nowadays because it's easier to get trapped into what I call a "mind numbing eddy of life" which seem to be incredibly good at wasting years of your life and making you feel like your kicking ass at it at the same time. On the other hand you have a guy whose curiosity has survived the cultural gauntlet, broke through the blurry barriers of society and has discovered an incredibly efficient tool called the "internet" to answer all his questions and spark new ones on a self guided journey without having to write acceptance essays, without having to take 2 years of prerequisites and without having to fork out thousands of dollars. So to wrap it up, on average this generation may be getting less intelligent, yes, but the active learners are far more intelligent and far more diverse than any before its time, fact!
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    Jul 1 2011: I wouldn't go as far as saying that education is falling apart. Rather it is unable to keep up with the speed at which business & technology grow. Management, R&D, production, all of them have a price attached to them and unfortunately as in business only those with deeper pockets are able to keep themselves up-to-date.

    Hopefully some brave souls may begin a revolution in the evolution of education. This is the type of change people should not fear.
  • Jun 30 2011: I've heard plenty of both views from parents/grandparents on this issue. I tend to believe the education system is constantly improving and each generation learns at an increased rate. But it is too early to tell for sure, I guess.
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    Jun 30 2011: I have a split view on this. On one hand I believe that our education system is falling apart. Kids from this generation don't know as much as say... someone from my generation. I have had many times where I have been talking to a kid and something comes up that I feel I knew at their age, but the kid draws a blank. So that is one view I have. The other is I feel that what our generation found of value is not the same as a newer generation. This has come from new technologies and current events. I also feel that when you are comparing a child's intelligence to what you remember in retrospect of your childhood you may think you knew more then than you actually did. Very interesting debate in my opinion!
  • Jun 29 2011: I just recently graduated from my high school three weeks ago after having a private Catholic education since I was in Kindergarten. I can't speak for public education, but the least I can do is express my experience in high school. I've known really bad teachers and I've met the greatest ones ever. I had only one honors class, for algebra, in my freshmen year and out of all the classes I had that year that one was the best. All my other teachers were teaching the less rigorous CP (college-preparatory) classes. The students in those classes are very noticeably less ecstatic about school than those in my honors algebra class, kids who don't have the will to read Dante's Inferno & I used to have their same apathy. I believe the primary reason for such apathy is that they don't find any reason for them to study such material.The same attitude persists even into senior year! Sorry that I'm not directly answering the question but I'd just like to state that I feel as if a primary reason this generation may not be as well educated as they could be is that there is no real motivation to engage oneself in a general education. So we just get our HS Diploma and go to college, that's it? Not many ever think about college for the sake of learning, rather it is just to get jobs. Many of my peers feel this way as they go through the motion of school and do whatever they please in their free time, like party it up. I used to be this way, but once I discovered my motivation to learn through some of my own soul searching and talks with teachers (who are always available) I've really found school to be my most valuable investment, and realizing that I challenged myself and took more rigorous classes and learned a lot, because I found a REASON to. I think education nowadays doesn't give a reason, but rather throws children into school without ever providing a (why?). It can be hard to motivate such a student, especially in light of distractions like Facebook statuses and Tumblr posts.
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    Jun 29 2011: Great conversation indeed! I think it is very difficult to generalize education per say, perhaps in the past we used to learn more things (in universities) as general knowledge next to our majors and that made us good "generalists" which is an asset in itself and today's education is more diversified certainly but more focused as well, which makes today's students better knowledgeable in their chosen field of education, which is again an asset - difficult to compare both "schools of education" and have an objective judgement! Perhaps one element to differentiate is the "hardship" as with hardship comes "early maturity and with maturity comes a better eagerness for learning and achieving; that itself remains a bit subjective as i am sure many of today's students still live through hardships and for many reasons.

    It is evident that today'sand with better knowledge sharing and information technology systems, it much easier to have access to education at all levels, which was not the case for my generation (I am 50)

    All in all i do believe a certain connection and common grounds still exists between different generational education systems, for example i remember that my parents where able to accompany me and support during my school years throughout and i was able to do the same with my children.

    I a nutshell education and at all levels remain very much affected by culture, national systems and it is not possible in my mind to find many common denominators to assess it at the global level. I used to have an economics teacher at university who and repeatedly his class that education is a tiny part of life and what we do with it is what really makes the difference.
  • Jun 29 2011: I believe previous generations had to overcome a lot of hardships (i.e., no loans, less income, poor infrastructure,) to study. Nowadays; it has become easier. That is why they think like that. Further; I agree with Vincent Li that; education has become smarter compared to harder that respected older generations had.
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    Jun 29 2011: well, i donot agree with that point to say the education right now is less intelligent than that ten years ago. to some degree i may say it is much smarter! here are some of my reasons, to start with, people choose schooling more selectively which means they are not likely to waste their time on learning sth unhelpful or boring whereas ten years ago, people have to bear all kinds of courses to pass different tests; subsequently, current education is not that examination oriented which refers to that people have more chances to boost their real potential rather than fake scores in tests; last but not least, we have more training organizations at present which leads to that people own more choices to figure out what they need to improve with more pertinency. isn't it much more intelligent?
  • Jun 28 2011: In the experience I have had, it´s not that new generations are less smart, the problem is since everything has become easier to do or to achieve due to better technologies and stuff, new students have become lazy, and they want to receive everything done in their hands, doing the less effort possible. So if they don´t do much the intelligence gets stuck, but its there you just have to use it.
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    Jun 28 2011: Yes the education system is failing but it is not the only factor. Our children are spoon-fed and don't take risks to think and do for themselves as much as in the past. Commitment, dedication and organization has gone out the window and teachers keep lowering their expectations. I believe that social media is partially at fault. The ability to focus is gone when it comes to school as there are so many distractions. As a teacher, I am often worried about what the future holds.
  • Jun 28 2011: You are talking as if inteligence were the result of education, and I think this is not the right approach to the subject. Another presuposition in your question is that all humans respond the same way to the same education system, and this is not the case.

    Education only gives you the tools to express your intelligence. I don't know a proper answer to your question, I don't think I have a real answer, but I would invite you to rephrase the question. My question would be: Is the current education system empowering our creativity and intelligence (which also depens on health and other sensitive subjects) or being a hinderance instead?

    The answer is complex because human evolution is a dynamic process, and no system can be fully responsive to this process. So a certain system which is useful, may become an obstacle later, or may be an obstacle for some people and a great help for other people, because not all humans respond the same way to a same process.

    In this context it would be easy to say that every educational system is going to fall apart, but this doesn't mean that it hasn't been helpful, it just has become outdated, and it has to be reinvented.
  • Jun 26 2011: I have enjoyed reading all of he responses to your question, Shawn. There is a huge body of information and leagues of scholars who work daily go clarify our understanding of this and other questions about intelligence and education. I have written a book called "Pathways Between Eastern and Western Education" that explores this in some depth, and helps to bridge the gap between 'Traditional' and modern education. Perhaps it will help.
  • Jun 25 2011: Education is certainly evolving, and the transformation is more pronounced in the last two decades than it has been before. I am from India and have witnessed a major change. In my school days in the early 1990s, computers had been only introduced with nobody really getting a chance to use it as a tool as they are being used today.We did not have the Google to search and enhance our information on a click of the button, we had to work hard to scout for information go the library, scout for the books and read to obtain information. This made us work hard, apply our mind, dedicate our precious resource-time, and work towards with focused approach to accomplish our goal with avoidable distractions of the internet and smart phones....but today the students may have the information, they are apparently "able" owing to the information but are not developing the "capabilities". It is the generation which may or may not be smarter but they are enjoying the benefits of the work of the preceding generation. It is only time which will tell that are we developing or regressing our abilities of thinking and application with the overdose of technology in our present education system. Lets not loose hope, because the present generation will always come out with the innovations which the previous generation never thought of. No one in 1855, thought that there will be an aircraft in reality it was only a fiction but it is a reality today so generations have evolved & no one before 2000 thought of a social networking making world smaller and getting people closer.
    Let us enjoy without judgement, evolution is a fact and will always continue.
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    Jun 25 2011: well, your question seems to be impossible to answer. Human beings still don't have enough knowledge about the universe and many other things. so i believe that it is not possible to give an exact definition of intelligence itself. Even scientists don't have a unique definition of intelligence they differ from one another in that aspect. so, this education will not be sufficing the reason of iintelligence
  • Jun 25 2011: I suspect it depends entirely on what sort of intelligence is being considered. Each generation is exposed to more information and potentially more new ideas and ways of approaching problems. It would be great to think that this means more intelligence and from what I see of younger people they are certainly turning their minds to many tough issues facing our world.
  • Jun 24 2011: In my opinion, the criteria for defining "smart" ones has changed. I am a teacher, and the kids that I'm dealing with have no problems with making their brains work, However, it gets really challenging when it comes to explaining them WHY they should start thinking. Most of have have "all they need" already: Internet, smartphone, "lots" of friends online... Unfortunately, most of them think that they will survive (in terms of getting information) as long as there is Internet Connection available...
    People have become shorter, weaker, fatter, lazier - because we have put so much effort in making our life easier.....that we have made it too easy. The same goes for our thinking - the young generation no longer feel that they need it...
    • Jun 25 2011: I have to disagree on the 'kids don't need to think' part and here's my reasons:

      I don't think it would be any more necessary to think even if we put away all the make-easy machines, because these machines aren't designed to think for us, they're designed to make things happen quicker. People all need to talk to friends, I can do it in less than 1 minute while it may take someone a few weeks 300 years ago. Think of technology like this: when we have a higher order of problem to deal with, we group the per-requisites and automate it so we can solve the same/similar problem again a lot quicker, i.e. calculator helps scientists solve complicated maths, MSN helps people at work to communicate, etc...

      I don't think people are lazier nowadays, in fact I believe the opposite. The people who are leading the development of mankind are doing more in less time.

      - Ding
  • Jun 24 2011: I think the word "intelligent" is changing very rapidly. Don't you think it's a waste of time that every generation has to spend the first 20 years learning the same knowledge? And that it's almost like a race to find out who's quicker (current definition of intelligent)?

    I think education will change drastically, hopefully to one that involves a system that stores all the known knowledge of human history, and more importantly, an interface with which we can access this knowledge base. In this future period, our time and efforts will be dedicated entirely to solve problems, not learning how to.

    - Ding
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    Jun 22 2011: It makes me remind a sentence from China that "龙生龙,凤生凤,老鼠生儿打地洞" As rats never fail to dig a hole since they were born,so with human,the son will inherit his farther's merits and demerits as well. The direct translation is that dragon born dragon, phenix born phenix, and rat born rat. So i do not agree that the generation after them are not as smart as they were growing up. if it were so, how could we give an explanation about Einstein and Newton's success.
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    Jun 22 2011: State Content standards list information that students must master in order to be considered "Proficent" in the particular discipline. They do not specify the methods by which this information is imparted to students. It is the process, not the content, that seperates one school from another. Somehow, education has come to be presented in ways that lack relevance for many students. That must change. Schools need to become institutions that both prepare students for continuing their education and for employment by giving them real-world skills. The school reform movement is garnering momentum. The key will be reaching inner-city students who have grown to distrust education. Contrary to popular opinion, our top students are as good or better than the top students in any other country. The problems is the large gap in achievement. (The George Lucas Foundation) is a great resource for school reform.
    • Jun 22 2011: no, education methods are very strictly controlled. teachers aren't allowed to award prizes for good work, aren't allowed to raise their voices, aren't allowed to deviate from the curriculum, and must use a set textbook, just to name a few.otherwise you are quite correct, but it's not schools that need to change, it's the fools who've never taught a class in their lives controlling them that needs to be fixed. get the bureaucrats, psychologists and parents out and you'll find that teachers are actually very good at teaching. that shouldn't be surprising really, where else in society does that occur? can you imagine how un-funny your favourite comedian would be if his manager told him what jokes he could and couldn't use?
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        Jun 22 2011: Ben,
        In China, teachers do the same. Because in China most students are from rural area or undeveloped area of China, so they have to only do the studying according to the content of curriculum for getting the excellent marks at entrance examination for colleges and universities and for changing their taugh life and for getting a better job.

        In fact, students in China admire the students in foreign countries, especially in USA, because in USA has no more pressure on studying and admission right?
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          Jun 22 2011: lian, so are you saying that the only goal of elementary and high school is to get admitted into a university?? What about those who are not academically inclined?? Are they "weeded out" beforehand?? And I can see, too, though why your system would be more consistent as is it not still under the communistic umbrella? But what you also must keep in mind is that American schools are not just about LEARNING per se. It is also a social venue due to all of our extra-curricular activities that we offer our students (for better or worse); and these actvities are not found, for the most part, in international schools. I know my students are amazed at this when I tell them my experiene with education in Serbia, and they talk to exchange students and when writing to pen-pals as they just assume that everyone has clubs and sports and an auditorium, gym and stadium.

          And as for pressure of getting into a university/college here...there is A LOT of pressure, I can assure you, especially at our top schools as many international students want in as well. Hmmmm... which is a bit weird now that I think about it as how can our American educational system for the most part be considered so poor when our universities are not?? When you look at the top 10 in the world, most are in America! Hmm....What is with that???

          Regards from the USA!!
        • Jun 23 2011: linda as with most countries chinese can leave school to learn other things (such as mechanics, business school etc) if they do not wish to go on to university. i wouldn't say students are 'weeded out', just allowed to pursue a different path.

          re your second paragraph it's an important observation i think. think about what i said, and notice how none of those exist in universities - university boards made up of parents don't choose the textbook and curriculum, the actual teachers do, psychologists don't meddle and instruct teachers not to give any criticism to students even where it's due and will result in the student then improving their performance, and universities are also free to set their own education policy, and so again it's actual teachers teaching at each university that do this, not a bunch of deskbound bureaucrats.

          i think it's clear why american universities are doing so well, and also why schools are failing - because control has been wrested from teachers (who are education professionals) by people who think they have great ideas but actually don't know what they're talking about.
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      Jun 22 2011: Nick, you are right about the content stanards and one teacher at my school really took time to look at all of them and really thought that if our students in Florida were to truly master all of them, he/she would have to be in high school until approx. age 27! I know that there are just too many of them, and when we write our team's curriculm (grade plus honors or reg), we pick and choose which ones we think will really benefit our students. And you are right about making a better connection between real-world and education and I think many schools are really trying to do this. But the whole system needs to be revamped as there are so many inequities still due to socio-economics and vision of the states and school boards that in all honesty, one really cannot make the blanket statement that American education stinks...for in many areas, it does not!

      Ben, you are right in some ways about how the curriculum is taught and what a teacher can and cannot do. as I think it depends upon the school and district. In regards to having to use a certain textbook, we do have one, but I know in our department, which is English, we hardly ever use it as we supplement what we want our students to know with novels and anything else we can find. At our school, we have a curriculum and common assessments, but the teacher may teach the curriculum how he/she sees fit, so we are lucky that teacher creativity is not shut down. We at one time had a principal who wanted all of us to be basically on the same page on the same day....and that is not only impossible but ridiculous as good teachers will stop and repeat something differently if a concept is not understood. So I guess I/we are lucky at our school.

      Now what I totally agree with is your comment about those who never taught a class controlling education. This is where the insanity needs to end. I am TIRED of those people dictating what is good for our students, as education is NOT really a business nor students clients.
      • Jun 23 2011: i've heard from a lot of american teachers who'd surely envy your school! too often i've heard of teachers getting in trouble for not using the textbook chosen for them, getting in trouble for selecting a novel that contained the word 'damn' or something to that effect, or even worse being branded a bad teacher because in following the mandated methods their students have performed poorly.
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      Jun 28 2011: @Nick,
      Inner city teachers are often told EXACTLY how to impart information via scripted lesson plans. No Child Left Behind and now Race to the Top made that adjustment. Inner city children distrust education because they see the obvious inequities when they leave the "hood" and witness that not all schools are created equal.

      If you have time, read Savage Inequalities by Johnathan Kozol. My comments are based on lived experience as a child in low income districts and as an educator within the same.
  • Jun 22 2011: "I often hear people say that the generation after them are not as smart as they were growing up. By people I mean the adults like my parents and grandparents. What is your input on the issues with education? Do you believe the education system is falling apart?"

    Education will teach whatever material is being offered at a predictable rate, but does not teach evaluation of issues where there is no clear right answer. One of the most important of these is how to compromise where different parties seem to have fundamentally different goals in a given situation. This situation will inevitably arise due to the variation in performance among the population, and the need for standards of measurement that quantify performance in a given situation, which will vary in the scale of abilities measured due to the above-mentioned differences in competence between different human beings in any given task.

    In the sense of not knowing how to resolve these contradictions, people in the current education system are definitely getting "less intelligent" in the sense that they are less likely to be able to maintain a society with efficient characteristics, measured by goal completion. This can be fixed, as described starting on line 59 here:
  • Jun 21 2011: "Education" has at least four functions that are often at odds with each other. A lot of the "problem" with education comes from focusing on the functions that have lost out to other functions.

    The four functions:

    1) Networking for the upper classes,
    2) Socialization,
    3) Holding queue for the workforce,
    4) Education (learning).

    Networking has always been a feature of "higher education." It's the first intersection of your law career (for instance) with someone who will someday be a Supreme Court Justice. It is why there are "Ivy League" schools. There's an entire vetting process where good schools lead to good schools lead to good schools, and it's a political process that has very little to do with learning.

    Socialization applies to the masses as well as the upper classes. School is where we get indoctrinated into the mythology of American exceptionalism, the virtues of work, the free enterprise system, the superiority of democracy to other forms of government, etc. Again, this has little to do with thinking skills -- in fact, it's deeply threatened by independent thought, and not infrequently by facts.

    The holding queue function has been growing for over a century, and dramatically in the last thirty years. It presents itself as a credentialing process, but the truth is that we need more people in school for longer periods because there is no work for them. The credentials are generally worthless. This has nothing to do with education -- it's a lottery. Buy your degree and wait for someone to call your number.

    I put education last because in any conflict with the other three functions, education loses.
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    Jun 21 2011: I think there is much more pressure nowadays to conform to certain ideologies in education and those that dare challenged those ideologies are sometimes villified. This has led to much less independent thought and, therefore, much less independent thinkers. When I was in school, I lived in an America where people said things things like, "I hate what you have to say but I'll fight to the death to defend your right to say it!" We go to great lengths to quash intellectual opposition rather than revel in the liberty of true public discourse.
  • Jun 21 2011: I think it depends greatly on the location (specific school systems), but yes, I think our current approach to education is faulty at least. I know for me, it was very difficult to get through the k-12 public school system, not due to the actual material, but due to the teachers, faculty, and lack of proper systems.

    We have plenty of libraries around, and in the schools as well. But through the entire experience Only a few times can I remember actually doing any work in the libraries. We had classes that were basically either lectures, or periods of time to do "homework". 4 classes, lunch, then 3 more classes, then went home to play. Most home work was done in school, and I myself never really did any homework at home, ever. Right now, entering my 3rd year in college, and learning that the way I was taught in school was completely wrong. I've had great troubles with classes due to the improper way of teaching in school. In my college classes I usually have lectures or discussions on the subject matter, and have to do the work later. This becomes very problematic as I just don't (or didn't, I do now...) have the past experience of doing it like this

    If I could make a few changes to fix some public school systems, it would be to shorten the students time inside of classrooms(lecture, discussions), and expand their time in the libraries to actually do their work and studying. I know it would have helped me.

    Furthermore, I would eliminate much of the testing in the k-12 schooling. Regardless if it is a mathematics, physics, language, or history test, half of the test is really to see how well you can remember specifics of the subject matter, not how well you can execute you're knowledge.
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    Jun 21 2011: Well.. I think of intelligence differently more and more as I go on. My brother-in-law is a Music Theorist who holds (at relatively young age) the oldest endowed music chair in the US. However, when family is together, you know his intent and focus is relationships. He reminds me of the very wise people I have come accross that seem to see you and I through another lense that values/esteems us, without effort. So, intellgent?? More, less? I'd say that's most likely relatively the same. However... Open minded.. Critical thinkers... I think with all the No Child Left Behind fallout teachers have been reduced to walking textbooks. My children get a lot of homework and whenever I have worked in schools.. Teachers are under tremendous pressure to prepare students for standardized testing, the results of which relate to funding the school will have in the near future. I see this as muting the creative, wise and otherwise holistic approach to teaching that endears me to those who found a way to connect with me (and others) in traditional and non-traditional ways to foster "learning" who cannot do so nowadays due to fear of job loss if they can't prove they've spent all the time they had to preparing students for standardized tests... Standardized to this degree means less free thinking, critical thinking and more confusion about life and their (students) place in it... in this world. I know the No Child Left Behind Legislation was important and needed. However, it's now also choking the life out of authentic teaching and diminishing some important learning and lessons our children need. It needs to be modified somehow to keep its intent and stop the stifling of teachers ability to use their natural abiliites, creativity, ec. to engage our children at levels as important as math and english skills.


  • Jun 20 2011: I think we still have similar potentialities as the generation before, but our education system in the US stinks, and the job opportunities out there are pretty bad as well. I think we end up wasting a lot of talent and intelligence. Further, even intelligent people are misinformed and misguided by propaganda campaigns and advertising. One big concern is the use of toxic chemicals in nearly every manufacturing process, including the manufacture of supposedly "green" products. We are building up a toxic environment and poisoning ourselves while we hear everyday on TV that we should buy some new more efficient product.
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    Jun 20 2011: Although IQ may not be the best way of measuring intelligence I think the "Flynn effect" is quite interesting...
  • Jun 19 2011: Obviously A Yes!!! This Generation Thrives On Education On Top Of That From A Couple Of Years Social Issues Are Also Being Given A National Priority And Let Me Tell You That Its Not Necessary That People Who Have Brains Are Smarter!!! Our Past Generation Was Smarter and This Generation Is Something Way Further Than That!!! :)
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    Jun 18 2011: To answer your question, Yes. Both scenarios are true. On average we are getting smarter about some things and there is a broader interest in more diverse subjects, this I think is encouraging. On the other hand I meet many young people today who know nearly nothing about anything. Or at least much of what they think they know is wrong. Several of the comments note an increasing lack of discipline when it comes to grammar and spelling. I would say that the older generations tended to have knowledge of fewer subjects but what they did know they knew much more thoroughly. I love the Democracy of spell check, now if only more people would bother to use it! Fuzzy thinking is made worse by people who do not really understand the words they employ.
    " Princess Bride" quote from the Spaniard "you keep using the word INCONCEIVABLE , I do do not think it means what you think it means"
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      Jun 18 2011: Loved your last sentence and it made my morning! I think you are right about us getting smarter in some things as well as the diversity of those things which can be a good thing, especially if one of them can be a starting point for learning it in depth which can then actually mean something! Jack -of -all -trades but masters of none is not always a good thing; plus I have noticed that many really even don't know enough to be the Jack.

      You are right too about the older generation having to know less which of course made us masters of more which I think was a boost to what we knew overall. But what bothers me is that what I think my students should know, they do not...esp. in the realm of allusions; and what makes it even harder, is that at times, they don't even recognize when something IS an allusion so don't know to look it up. And this deficit really affects their understanding of so many written works.

      But one thing I do disagree with is your comment about the "spell check" god, for it does not recognize homonyms plus it is only as good as the original speller as well as if he/she takes the time to proofread the change and not just rely on it. To prove my point, this is from one of my students informal essay: "I will always have wonderful memories of my father. I will never forget the smelll of his colon as I walked into his bedroom as he got ready for work...." And that is only part of my collection! :-)
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    Jun 18 2011: I believe that the generation in education is not getting smarter than the ones before them. Now we have technology and more access to everything that can give us more knowledge. However, the education system could be falling apart because, before just a few people went to college and finished it. Now most of the people go to college but, a big percentage of students drop out, and never go back to school.
  • Jun 18 2011: Personally, I think the current generation is just as smart, if not smarter than the previous generation. The previous generation will always look at the current and think they are not as good. They will never look at the current generation and think they are better, for the simple reason that humans are no good at admitting inferiority. We like to believe that we are better than everyone else. It's part of what makes us who we are. I'm certain that my generation will look upon the next and scoff at their ignorance.
    Also, when you see someone younger than you and try and imagine yourself at that age, you give yourself way too much credit. You think, "I was so much smarter than they are when I was their age. Why, by the time I was their age, I could..." The thing is, you probably couldn't. It probably took you another year or two to be able to. But your memory just casually forgets about that and moves right on.
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      Jun 17 2011: No practical definition of intelligence relies on the supposed ability alone. With such a definition, I could claim that I am the greatest genius in human history, and no one could refute it. In science, intelligence is measured by testing for performance instead. And the performance of intelligence has definitely increased and possibly decreased in various fields, in the population as a whole and even within individuals.

      Also, it is of course not the size of the brain that matters, it is its complexity. The notebook I am typing on is superior to the Z3, but inferior to NASA's Columbia. So complexity can correlate with size, but doesn't necessarily have to :)
  • Jun 16 2011: Before people went to schools, to universities, to colleges, to learn, to gain knowledge. Today most people go because they feel they have to, so they could get a job. Im not good at expressing myself (im 17), but i think this is an interesting thought. Perhaps someone smarter or more eloquent can continue this thought? :)
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      Jun 18 2011: Alex you point to the most crucial aspect of learning. Motivation. How many educators does it take to change a light bulb? The number does not actually change the result because the light bulb must really want to change if meaningful learning is to occur.
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      Jun 18 2011: I think most of the young people will find their dream after come to TED.
      I'm the one.
      I truly want to be influential to help the 2 billions who are still living under $1 a day.
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        Jun 18 2011: Good for you! This place is influential and am happy that a few of my students have also become TEDsters!
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      Jun 18 2011: In the US college has just become the next step, many of the kids that go have absolutely no idea of what they ant to do or even what they are truly passionate about. I have been wondering if it wouldn't be better to have the kids for th e most part wait a couple of years before they go to college. This way they can live a little and learn what they would like to achieve.
  • Jun 16 2011: Statistics tell us the average IQ of every generation rises, however, IQ tests are geared more towards critical thinking as opposed to well-rounded knowledge. To understand my assertion in this argument you need to know a little background information.

    According to psychologists, the mind has two different types of intelligence: fluid intelligence and crystalized intelligence. Fluid intelligence focuses on the brains aspect of critical thinking whereas crystalized intelligence targets the brains capacity of knowledge. The brain uses both intellects collaboratively in what we know as "intelligence". As the focus of time delves further into the past (the generation of our parents, grandparents, etc.) we find that their intelligence was dominated by critical thinking, thus the many discoveries, theories, inventions and so forth. Now as generations approach more modern times, we can see our intelligence relies more heavily on the crystalized intelligence. An insurmountable abundance of knowledge is available and therefore if we wish to know something all that has to be done to acknowledge information can be done via the push of a button, to the click of a world wide web internet icon.

    Whats the point I'm getting at? The answer is simple. It is unfair to judge any collected group of people divided by different eras as smarter than the other. Older generations rely on critical thinking whereas ours rely moreso on an abundance of knowledge. And besides, there is no way of determining intelligence. The potential of the human mind is unfathomable.
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      Jun 16 2011: When it comes to the Flynn effect , we need to be careful not to jump to conclusions. It is correct that the been average knowledge and performance in 1930 is far below the contemporary standard. But if I understand Ulric Neisser correctly , then the gain in test perfomance is not limited to the youngest generation. Instead, older adults show increased intelligence as well. Of course you can't adapt in 1970 to the conditions of 2010; but you can in 2010...
    • Jun 24 2011: good point, it's disappointing how many people equate knowledge with intelligence. a person who doesn't know the president is not stupid but ignorant. intelligence is all about if a person can work out the solution to a problem as yet unencountered.
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      Jul 1 2011: One of humanity's greatest gifts is adaptability to changing environments.

      If you agree with this premise then comparing modern cognitive skills to 70 years ago is fruitless. It is fascinating to observe how our cognitive skills change over time, even more fascinating since our own innovations have been that catalyst for our changing environment -- thus necessitating changes in our cognitive processes.
  • Jun 16 2011: Interesting question. I think that as technology changes, we also change with it and somewhat because of it. I believe that children are either equally or more intelligent than the previous generation. The problem I see is that patience and its partner tenaciousness are losing ground with our young. Back 30 years if you had a question you would go to a teacher or a library or some other outlet. That took time, energy and determination. Now I have seen and sad to I have given up on a question as it appears that it will take effort to find the answer. Most of us now will just “Google it” instead of refining our inquiry, gathering possibilities and developing a theory. The art of thinking as a process is being replaced random seaming questions that may stumble upon knowledge we are seeking. By having the information available quickly and easily we can gain the information without much cost. I see this as giving us the ability to have a wide body of knowledge that may lack the depth or connections that was achieved by deeper thinking. They are smart but not as good problem solvers. Knowledgeable but lack the ability to postulate where next piece of knowledge may be or come from.
  • Jun 15 2011: I don't believe that each generation is getting less intelligent, I just believe they are becoming intelligent on specific topics. For example, my generation know how to use a computer and my parents generation on the other hand are still just learning the basics.
  • Jun 15 2011: Not less intelligent in terms of brain capability but more lazy in thinking, in using our brain and memory to learn lessons of the past and to establish out-comes. The difference between us and our ancestors, as some-one once said, is our access to knowlege and materials technology, You need knowledge and memory to develope the skills to make a good sword - looking it up on the internet wont do it for you. I believe Linda Woodward is right, people should have an inate knowlege of many things; some things you dont have time to look up on the internet eg: giving some one in trouble CPR. Undue reliance on computers and calculators makes for a lazy brain and then thinking becomes difficult - our technological success has made it more difficult in some areas to use our intelligence effectively.
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    Jun 15 2011: Education in the United States does seem to be in peril in many places., but not all. Where it is in fact falling apart, it is doing for so due to a montage of contributing factors. A partial list might include: 1. a consumerist mentality we have successfully imparted to them that they now carry into their education. For the seniors I have informally interviewed, this means to get the highest grade for the least amount of work. The kids I talk to are bright enough, but they are convinced that much of what happens in a classroom is irrelevant to them as a basis of knowledge. The grade is a stepping stone toward high hopes of a high salary job. Much more should be said here. Many studies have documented the impact of screen media on emotions, modes of cognition and the like. I believe we need to look at how the overwhelming amount of information and information exchange is influencing maturation processes. I suspect a kid's development, including brain materation, becomes regressed or at least held in check due to the hyper-exchange of virtual screen environments. As a country and a culture, we may be getting from this generation exactly what we sell for.
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      Jun 17 2011: That a great thought about us becoming more of a consumer culture. How smart do consumer need to be. In fact you can argue its easier to sell culture to people who lack the skills to create it. I wonder how much money we spend on "educating" children through commercials compared to schooling. I suspect public education is outspent both in terms of volume, and value.
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    Jun 15 2011: Shawn, as indicated by the smart Tedsters below, we are indeed getting smarter. Look around you today and see where our progress have brought us although paradoxically more work is needed to make all things right.

    This is what our old folks are probably noticing. We are more academically smarter but not necessarily smarter in our moral education. When our good values are not in order, it won't matter what our other progress had made.

    Our country have all the money to make things right but as studies have noted, this is not the only solution. What I think is the key solution is meeting one unseen need that can fundamentally transform everything.
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    Jun 15 2011: A nice one also for this debate; to quote Gunter Pauli; "If we only teach our children what we know, then they can only do as bad as we do."

    And at school we do not teach much beyond our current society...
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    Jun 15 2011: Different ages require different skill sets to survive and there are corresponding definitions of intelligence for the different ages. But it dosent mean that there is no absolutism in the benchmark. Educators across the world are concerned about the level of "social' intelligence that the present age fosters. we might have become analytically far more sophisticated with our complex math and physics but intelligence has to be a holiistic term that encompasses social, analytical skills and the ability to see right from wrong and asking the right questions. And this is where we are certainly lagging behind our forefathers. In our Image based reality that we are immersed in, questioning the system is increasingly becoming a lost art whereas our previous generation defined themselves by it.The "Brave New World" is here. We happily exercise our "intelligence" in doing complex activities without for a second stopping and thinking as to the "whys" of our activities.The education system today is a assembly line of conformist robots who are prohibited from asking big questions, trained to become "specialists" in a field and serve the industrial complex with ever more loyalty.Education is today as redundant as it is debilitating. But who will question this system? We will be discussing this on this forum whereas the ipod generation is busy browsing through the latest Hip Hop number or checking out the latest trash can from the hollywood bin. This is what is sad with the present system. we are flooded with so much information that the truth is drowned in it and we just occupy ourselves with the trash.Intelligence is not just crunching numbers. Its being able to discern whats right and whats wrong also. That way, we are definitely less intelligent
  • Jun 15 2011: Here's an insightful person that can really offer some clarity. Hope it is helpful.
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    Jun 15 2011: PS: My old primary teacher already stated ago that kids fail at simple tasks (like tieing a bow) which did not pose a problem in the years before. They also bring much more aggression into the classroom nowadays, a trend I already witnessed while I still attended school. In my last year at my secondary school, there was such a bloodily brawl that a school conference was summoned. That alone was already something unheard of to my classmates and me; but what really surprised us was the fact that the fight occurred between mere fifth-graders.

    So while people discuss what fancy education system should be implemented, my demands are much simpler: First of all, I want to be sure that my little ones are physically safe. If that goes without saying where you send your kids to school, you have a strong reason to feel privileged.
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    Jun 14 2011: I would think the center of intelligence has shifted, I can't say if it has decreased or not. We are all using our brains less due to technology. How many phone numbers can you list off the top of your head compared to fifteen years ago? The same apply for math, more use of calculator to do simple equations and computers to do the complex ones. Then society has shifted. The corporation has built a cookie cutter structure where as long as the guidelines are followed then all is good. This takes aways from the need of the employees to think critically.
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      Jun 15 2011: I like how you said that our center of intelligence has shifted as I agree and like you, I cannot tell what happened due to that fact. BUT, it is true we are using our brains less, and when we don't use it, we lose it; but even Emerson said the exact same thing over 150 years ago in his essay "Self Reliance". But what are we do to? Most say that just knowing WHERE to get the information needed is more important than retaining it once you do have it..
  • Jun 14 2011: I don't believe that the current generation is getting less intelligent. Due to higher numbers of people gaining qualifications it is assumed that these qualifications must be easy, even though there is no evidence for this. Logically new generations should be increasing in intellect due to the advantages available, for example better technology in schools and higher funding for primary and secondary education. I believe that the real problem is educational standards in specific fields. Results in maths and science are poor because people fear these subjects and cannot overcome them. If we hope to compete with emerging economies then this is a problem which we need to address.
  • Jun 14 2011: The world is shifting. The current education process has always been some units removed from cultivating independent and value producing adults / workers / decision makers. The whole purpose of college is to byproduct at the very least successful decision makers for higher-than-mindless-labor-jobs through knowledge. The world being in shift + the education process of high and low effectiveness in the first place = two negatives. Generation Y, us, has a higher baseline functionality in the world than the generation before us, but not so much because of the education system. Generation Y has a more diverse social network, so even though they don't have more lifetime experience, they learn a lot simply from social engagement with the high diversity of people they are exposed to, but the learning is really subjective. Generation Y also has a higher and more diverse exposure to solid information and conflicting professional opinions and with all the chatter, we are forced to be more open and deterred from squatting on oversimplified information (we are more susceptible to oversimplification, but not as closed to it as Gen X), where the generation before us moves through the world with a stubborn idea of how the world is supposed to work. Generation Y however has less patience and can't focus like generation X can, probably because we have so many more attention stealing things in our lives. Gen X still has wisdom, knowing what is important among clutter balls of information.

    I believe intelligence is measured in how well you control what you want, how well you control what you have, and how well you get what you want, with all the details consciously accounted for.

    There is no winner.
  • Jun 14 2011: I look at obesity levels in America and get scared for the future. I have seen respected surveys linking obesity to procrastination and even things like bad credit scores. Surely is affects learning. Is there any question that children spend more time in front of a television or monitor than they used to? MTV, video games, and high fructose corn syrup are not the perfect ingredients in my view for a stable platform of education when taken to the extremes at which America is at.

    I feel that the education system is in serious need of overhaul as well. The "No child left behind" campaign has done much to lower the bar for exceptional students in America. Arts programs seem to be on the comeback, but their outlook was bleak for a time. Are we teaching our children to think and be creative or are we shoving information down their throat in an ineffective way in school? I feel the system has been on the decline, but that it is turning around.

    The misdiagnosis and medication of the A.D.D. phenomenon is terrifying. The term "Bullying" has been used so much lately that I feel there has to be a different, more hostile, atmosphere in our youth than there used to be. How does this atmosphere affect the learning environment? Is it really a more popular social status to be "a little dumb" than "a lot smart"? I think that has become fixed into the younger generations.

    After saying all of this, I am optimistic for the future. I saw somewhere that I.Q. levels have been increasing by 3 points every ten years for a while now. The digital age brings information and social activity to us much easier than before. The false view that Americans have of being number one in the world at everything is quickly fading away and the sense of urgency to "right the ship" seems to be growing quickly. National pride seems to be a silly reason to face and fix our problems, but I will take whatever works.
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    Jun 14 2011: Well I think this talk relies heavily on the definition of "smart"

    We are certainly as a generation more well informed, but information without application is trivia.

    As for application of information (intelligence) I think we are nearly the same cognitively.
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    Jun 14 2011: Well a question that is worth asking and that is very much a talking point for every generation.

    I dont know if you have seen a movie called ‘Waiting for superman’ and it is mostly about the education system in America. I myself am from Australia and our education is so different from other counties.

    As for the new generation not being as smart as the old, i just think it is a question of the times. I think a big problem which we have today is that we are in the technological age and we are still using he education systems of the industrial age. This is an interesting video to watch:

    I do believe that to know where we are going we must know where we have been, so there are certain things that we should learn that the new generation isnt getting schooled on. This is the history of our own countries and that of others. Why the major wars happened and why war is still in our world today.

    I think there is so much information out there that communication between two people in real life has come to a stand still, but this is another topic.

    So in saying all of this i think there are some parts of education that the new generation is missing, but there is also so many things that they know that generations before never had to worry about.

    So if all the generations respected the knowledge of the past and of the present then between us all we almost know all there is to know.

    food for thought
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    Jun 14 2011: With the whole text book debacle in Texas, I don't see how it could be viewed that they are getting smarter.