The Dummy Down Syndrome

10 Jul

Can you read beyond an 8th grade level?

Recently I purchased grammar check software created especially for writers.  Why not the regular software?  The writer‘s version has a few extra bells and whistles.  One of which I find very insulting unless you’re writing children’s books for the very young.  It’s a feature that tells you when you’re using words your reader may not understand.   Get this, the program says the average reading level is 8th grade or lower.  What?!

Do you remember, as a child, reading and you came upon a word you didn’t understand?  You asked your parents and what was the most common reply? Look it up!

When was it decided the only practical solution to comprehending books and other reading material was for the writer or publisher to use the simplest words possible.  More important, who decided that we are all beings whose reading comprehension froze between the 4th and 8th grade? This assumption is farcical!

The grammar check software did beg a valid question.  Why aren’t we broadening our vocabulary?  What’s wrong with an intelligent conversation consisting of words your elementary school aged child does not know how to say or spell better than you…yet?

Did you ever wonder what happens to all those babies and tots using the “Your Baby Can Read” program?  Since we seem to be in the age of Dummy Down, how do those children fare once they have matriculated into the school system with peers who cannot read or count?  Somehow, I don’t see the teachers rushing to bring the other children up to speed, with their pre-educated classmates, do you?

Today we have more books and technology available to us than any other generation or century that has preceded us, and yet, I wouldn’t call this the most intelligent generation or century, by any means.  According to OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development), the US ranks 18th out of 36 industrialized countries.  Only 75% of US high school students receive diplomas.  Talk about dismal numbers!

A lot of us would do well to turn off the televisions and video games and even computers.  Pick up a book.  They don’t bite and who knows, you just might learn something.

Ah, now that I’ve had my rant for the day, I feel much better.  The room seems to have cleared from the steam that was coming out of my ears.

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Posted by on July 10, 2011 in Literary


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5 responses to “The Dummy Down Syndrome

  1. Jennifer Ward-Pelar

    July 13, 2011 at 11:16 pm

    So true, woman! Maybe I’ll start reading out loud. That way Matt can correct me when I say it wrong. (He’s good about that. Never making me feel inferior or ignorant.) :)
    I want to improve my vocabulary and my spelling. New goal. Thanks for the push! :)


  2. Jennifer Ward-Pelar

    July 11, 2011 at 6:32 pm

    How humiliating. I had to look up farcical. (I did recognize it once I read the definition at least.) Blah! And I am a reader….bad speller though. :(
    You would think it would get better the more I read, but it doesn’t seem to be happening.


    • NotWiredThatWay

      July 12, 2011 at 1:59 am

      Hi Jennifer, Don’t sweat it. But you do see what I mean? We’ve become complacent. We challenge ourselves at certain things while other facets of our lives are neglected.


  3. Janet Bostrom

    July 10, 2011 at 7:14 am

    Great information! As a child, I spent everyday at the library. I loved reading fairy tales by Grimms, and Aesop’s Fables….great job here NWTW. Very interesting!


    • NotWiredThatWay

      July 10, 2011 at 7:56 am

      Thanks Janet. I did too. As a kid I devoured everything in my father’s library and then our local library. I loved Aesop’s fables! As for Grimms, I still read them. Did you know there’s three or 4 versions of most of the Grimm fairy tales? Good stuff…

      Hope you’re enjoying your weekend.



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