This may not be worth anything to anyone who reads it, but it is worth a great deal to me. What’s more, the following story is true: not only did it happen, but I have faithfully related it the way it happened. In fact, at the time, it made such an impression on me that I wrote the exchange down — so I would remember it.
When I was earning my Sociology degree in the mid-1990’s, one of my professors asked us if we knew how the majority of journalism majors in the State of Florida answered the following question:
Why did you choose your major?
Before anyone answered, my professor told the class that the majority of education majors gave the exact same answer. Then our professor asked us to guess what the answer was. Do you think you know what the answer was?
“I want to change the world!”
In the early 1990’s, college students in the State of Florida were asked why they chose their particular major and the majority of journalism and education majors said they chose their field because they wanted to change the world! Think about that for a moment.
Are either of those professions supposed to be concerned with shaping and directing social change? No, they aren’t. Journalism is supposed to answer the “who?” “what?” “how?” “when?” and “where?” of a story and report just the facts of those questions, whereas educators are supposed to instruct students on the fundamentals of reading, writing, mathematics, history, etc., as well as how to reason and think critically. If these two professions do their jobs correctly, the educator prepares a student to take the information reported by the journalist and then make whatever determinations or decisions from that information they deem appropriate for their own lives. So, how does a student come up with the idea that they can and should become a journalist or an educator to affect social change? Who gives them such ideas? And why?
After the class finished discussing this information with our professor, and just as we were about to leave for our next class, our professor spoke up and shared one last bit of additional information. Now, I am making no value judgment here, and neither did our professor. In fact, he stated it “matter-of-factly” as he was putting his papers away and getting ready to leave with the rest of us. Still, this is what our professor told us:
“From the same study: journalism and education majors in the State of Florida shared one more common characteristic. For several years running, they consistently scored at the absolute bottom of the intellectual testing scores.”
Again, think about that for a few minutes, because this is all connected. You have young kids coming out of public schools where — somehow — they got the idea that they could most effectively change the world by going into journalism and education, and at the same time, the kids going into these majors consistently scored at the bottom of the standard intellectual and aptitude tests.
Dear reader: you do not have to believe this story, and, if you do, you do not have to draw the same connections from it as I did. But I will share this with you. The more and more I look at our ‘journalists’ and ‘educators’ today, and the more I reflect back on what my professor told us that day in 1993, the more I realize why Lenin called certain people “useful idiots.” And, to be perfectly honest with you, I have gone w-a-y past the point where this makes me want to do anything about this whole issue. Now, all I can feel when I think of this whole thing is an over-powering sense of sorrow for the lost potential represented by those idealistic college students, and a deep, deep sense of indignation toward the people who set this all in motion. They may have thought they were making th world better, but all they have done is destroyed: both the students they deceived, and now, the nation that those same students continue to deceive. 😦