Before any assumptions can be made about brain functionality, social progress, and possible brain shrinking and lack of learning that result from some recent from some educational action, the phrase ‘dumbed- down education’ must be explained, or at lease explored. It in itself is one of these copy cat phrases often heard in relation to writing. Writers at Helium will often hear this on the discussion boards in reference to should they ‘dumb-down’ their writing, or should they write to a more elite group.
Thoughts on this are: It is impossible to know anything accurately if you cannot put it into a language where the least educated will understand. Writers by nature are a bunch that like to express themselves with technical terminology and with skills they have learned. This is to be understood. But when writing to varied groups, don’t write as a professor would write to an advanced group, write as a teacher would write when she expected her six-graders to read and to understand.
That is about the level of understanding the average online surfer will be able to comprehend. What do the expert educators have to say about the phrase dumb-down? Google uploaded a lot of stuff about the dumbing-down approach to American Education, but where did it all start? In order to answer that a question was posed that asked: dumbing-down phrase + origin? The first selection was from Carol Bainbridge of About.com. Where it comes to explaining things, this site does it well. She explains it is a deliberate attempt by some students to hide their intellectual abilities so they will be accepted by other students. And she goes on to say, as a secondary definition, some schools are weakening their curriculum requirements.
Well that certainly explains the process, but what catches most people off guard is the word dumbing down. It somehow has a connotation that is actually demeaning to those students who are not as brilliant. Could not a better, and more socially acceptable phrase be used? Merriam-Webster says the first use of dumb-down occurred in 1933, and their definition: to lower the level of difficulty and educational content is about the same across the board.regardless of how it is used, a better descriptive form could be used. The actual usage of the term to describe the watering down of education by using the slang terms of dumbing-down shows a certain amount of its own ineptness in explaining what is taking place. In other words, the accused could answer the accuser by the slung back retort of ‘you are what you say’.
As to the perpetrators of the accusation to education, there may be a legitimate reason to worry about the educational system, but when it comes to the personal matter and teaching concepts, unless something is fully understood, words and their usage, principles which guide society, then how can it be shared with others if it cannot be understood? Writers and others who write to be understood, should leave their highly technical jargon to their own particular groups, but when writing for general knowledge, they should keep it simple and use short and understandable words.