Mark Bauerlein starts his book with an introduction of how hard students are pushed in high school to achieve perfection. But then goes on to show with surveys that very little time is used for homework on a daily basis. (pages 1-6) He states on page 7, "This book is an attempt to consolidate the best and broadest research into a different profile of the rising American mind. It doesn't cover behaviors and values, only intellect of under-30-year-olds. . . . It sticks to one thing, the intellectual condition of young Americans, and describes it with empirical evidence, recording something hard to document but nonetheless insidious happening inside their heads."
We start chapter 1 with a reminder of the "Jaywalkers" segments for The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Mark Bauerlein goes on to say that high school students are not uninterested in world realities (history, literature, civics) but that they are "cut off from them." They are more involved with "friends, work, clothes, cars, pop music, sitcoms, Facebook." (page 13)
The middle of the chapter is devoted to surveys and statistics about what high school and college students know (or don't know) in history, civics, math, science, technology, and fine arts.
The next section discusses why students test scores have not increased in social studies over the last few generations. Students know no more now that the generation 50 years ago. (pages 26-30) Yet they have more resources such as libraries, museums, internet, and news broadcasts any where they go. (page 31)
In the last section of this chapter, the author does some comparing of leisure time vs. educational time and the impact the two have on each other.
A quote I kept coming back to is on page 32. "This is the paradox of the Dumbest Generation. For the young American, life has never been so yielding, goods so plentiful, schooling so accessible, diversion so easy, and liberties so copious. . . . The 18-year-old may have a Visa card, cell phone, MySpace page, part-time job, PlayStation 2, and an admission letter from State U, but ask this wired and on-the-go high school senior a few intellectual questions and the facade of in-the-know-ness crumbles."
My question is, "WHY?"