Substandard Media Impedes Brain Development
The Theory of Evolution proposed by Charles Darwin dictates that given ideal conditions, each generation should be better than the generation that precedes it. This theory had held true for all forms of life on Earth so far – all except for the humans. Even in countries with an abundance of resources for healthy mental development, the general intellect of Generation Y rarely comes up to par with the intellect of Generation X, and even sometimes Generation W. The reason that Generation Y defies the Theory of Evolution to become perhaps be one of the most intellectually challenged generations since the late 1800′s lies with the media and learning materials presented to kids in early childhood.
A study made by Yale University, published by Scientific American concludes that mental development starts at birth, and the first twenty months are crucial not only to a child’s motor and recognition skills, but language development as well. During this window of mental acuity, it is suggested for parents to speak clearly, read to the child, and to include the child in social situations. However, most parents opt for the brain numbing, “age appropriate” activities marketed such as picture books, and “educational” toddler’s television programs to entertain their little bundle of joy. Picture books will have no impact to a child’s mental growth as a child will be unable to grasp the concept of symbols until the age of three. Toddler’s television programs nowadays can be described as highly colourful drug trips – made to entertain with pretty dancing colours, because that is what any TV show will seem like to a toddler’s eyes. Despite claims, these “educational” shows are never made to educate or further brain development. After all, if an adult cannot make sense of “The BooBahs”, how do you expect a toddler to?
The trend with substandard media carries over to books and cartoons as the child grows older. The media continues to compartmentalize the young as unable to grasp complex concepts. Literature, even fairy tales are slowly being phased out of bookshelves in favour of dumbed-down adaptations. TV shows, once so rich in artwork and ideas, are being replaced with slapstick humour. Clever characters such as Bugs Bunny and Dexter that encourages kids to use their brains are replaced with a giggling sponge and a lazy starfish, hardly shining examples of good character. Children gain nothing through these forms of thoughtless media, while quality books and cartoons stays of parents’ grasp with high prices and lack of availability. As a result, the children grows up unable to distinguish work that requires intelligence, and work that the television producers pushed out to make a profit. Time spent learning about the world and bettering themselves are spent tracking the nonsensical adventures of Spongebob and Patrick. Media nowadays, despite all the technological advancements, is decaying in comparison to media as recent as two decades ago in terms of content and promotion of thought. Generation Y is taking the brunt of the blow.
Even during education, children cannot escape the substandard educational materials. Schools are simply not pitting children at their maximum potential. Children are perfectly capable of reading some classic novels, even writing simple short stories at the age of ten, and yet the grade five English curriculum requirement is simply “to know how to write a Thank-You card”. This discourages exploration for further knowledge as a child will get the impression that a Thank-You card is all they will need to know for grade five level English. The schools, thinking along the same lines, will keep the language level in that grade at Thank-You card levels. This makes the more advanced language materials unavailable to the children, therefore hindering the mental development of some of the more advanced children as well as language development of the slower children.
Older students are also victims to poor educational materials, and textbooks are the biggest offenders. Despite what many people assume, textbooks are neither compiled by experts nor well researched. Companies producing textbooks are private businesses, meaning they work not for the betterment of minds, but for profit. As there are very little textbook companies, there are very few cheap options available to the school. The majority of the textbook is filler made to plump up what little actual information is in the textbook. The students using the textbooks will have no choice but to follow through with the degrading childish “practises”, “assignments” and “experiments” in the textbook, with most of them redundantly stating the obvious (What happens when you put baking soda and vinegar together? It bubbles! This is not common knowledge at all!) . This wastes the student’s time, and often drags out a subject longer than it takes to grasp the concept. As brain development is concentrated from birth and peaks at fifteen, time is crucial when it comes to education. More often than not, time runs out for the students before the harder subjects are taught.
Generation Y’s level of intellect is definitely under scrutiny. In a world of artless media and obstructive education, it is a wonder how some of Generation Y are still producing highly intellectual work while the majority are stuck on mediocrity. With brain numbing media discouraging artistic expression and personal thought at home and academically repressive and time wasting educational systems at school, Generation Y’s world only appears mentally nourishing through a careful facade of richness and ease of information availability. Generation Y’s conditions are simply not ideal for mental development, and this is why Generation Y is an outlier in the traditional pattern explained by the Theory of Evolution. Our media and education system forced Generation Y to break the pattern, and became intellectually worse than the preceding generation.
*Edit: Sarah here. First of all I would like to say: This didn’t even get over 80? Really?
I think another really big problem with education is that the grade levels don’t mean the level of education that you’re getting. When I first came to Canada, I had around a month of grade five education. I did not know any English whatsoever (I couldn’t understand it when my teacher asked me “where were you born”), and I got a 85% on the grammar test. Seriously. And I’m not even going to talk about math and science. Because I don’t think we even learned any math or science.
Middle school was pretty much the same – really, really (and I mean REALLY) simple English. Basically, if you could write some kind of English, you’re good. It’s perfectly fine if you confuse “there” with “their” and “its” with “it’s”.
And then you go to high school, and suddenly English class is all about “thinking deeply”, “finding symbolism”, and “analyzing the human mind”. The teachers start marking like they’re all menopausal. You start getting shitty marks for “making assumptions”. Suddenly math is force-fed on you in a way that you can’t catch up, and apparently when you go to university it’s only going to feel ten times worse. Even people who do really well in high school end up crashing out of university.
Why is it that education can’t be a gradual thing? Why is it that you learn practically NOTHING for ten years and then suddenly they try to kill you by trying to cram as much information as possible into you in university? It just doesn’t make any sense.
We have to write another essay. There’s no point in even trying anymore, because you know you’ll never get an 80 anyways.