Friday, September 4, 2015

What is Causing Declining SAT Scores?

The Washington Post is attributing declining SAT scores to factors such as poor quality education and poverty:

No doubt these factors play a role but I personally think that young people today have more trouble FOCUSING than previous generations.

I suspect the problems in focusing stem from a variety of complex synergies including:

1. Media saturated environment defined by surface content organized mostly around violence, sex, and interpersonal relationships. Kids spend less time reading, less time playing outside, less time for quiet thought and reflection.

2. More exposure to environmental contaminants in food, water, and air that disrupt the endocrine system and other sensitive physiological systems. We have more incidences of heart, endocrine, auto-immune, and neurological disorders in kids and adults than suffered by previous generations.

Cognition is impacted by these and other conditions and factors. Sustained attention and critical reflection are mentally challenging and taxing. Our social and bio-chemical environments are converging to disrupt our higher-order cognitive processes.

I am convinced this is the case. I've been teaching many years and the demographics of my students haven't changed that much but their ability to focus in the classroom has definitely declined on aggregate. This opinion is shared by many faculty (although I'm sure the opinion is not universal).

What I am unclear about is whether our emotionality has been impacted. Students today seem to have more empathy for those that are different from them in some marked way (e.g., sexually, ethnically, nationally, etc). Increased social empathy is certainly desirable.


Last couple of days have been quiet with steam down, although greenish, redish, purplish emissions continue to stream from unit 3