Have you ever seen a book that you wished you had written? Well, there is one out now by another college English professor that goes into detailed support of my “Teacher’s Lament” of a previous entry of mine. It is, to say the least, a really scary premise. In fact, I wrote a science fiction short story (soon to come out as an audio story at Sniplits.com) called “Zinggong” that speculates what the United States will be in the 29th Century. If you teach, then you know that the Asian students are usually far superior to the Anglos. Here’s a quote from my story’s script that shows you how I think it will be in the future:
In the year 2852, the Pan-Asian Society had taken over what used to be the sovereign nation of the United States of America. The capitalists of the Republican-Democratic era had literally sold out the entire country for short-term investments and loans from the Asian countries of China, Taiwan, Malaysia and Japan. In return, the USA had waged many decades of imperialist aggression against Middle Eastern and other oil countries (like Nigeria and Venezuela) in order to supply the roaring economies of Asia.
The Asians finally called in their chips in 2508, and the rest was, as Julien knew so well, revisionist history. The new Asian power brokers converted to alternate energies, and then they had converted to a totally new type of dictatorship.
Under Zinggong power, society in the Americas had been transformed into a vacation wonderland for Asia, and the Americans worked as slave-wage laborers for the visiting Chinese, Japanese and other Asians. The Constitution had been replaced in 2510 by the Pan-Asian Bill of Rights, a vague and meandering document that gave imperial power over the citizens to the occupiers.
The author of The Dumbest Generation uses Jay Leno’s “Jaywalking” segment to enforce his claim about these 20-somethings who are encased inside their digital cocoon of ignorance. Listening to these youngsters reminds me that I have to teach First Year Composition next semester. I get mostly the same responses from my college students (except the Asians). Because they are locked inside their digital world (cell, Facebook, blog, computer games), they have not spent the time necessary to see what the hell has happened in the past, is happing in the present, and will happen if they don’t change their ways in the future. It makes me want to cry, sometimes, but I still hold out hope, until I see that the teachers coming out of college now are those same digital morons! Then, I see my worst nightmare as a reality: the blind are leading the blind! Perhaps they should read the excellent dystopian novel called Blindness by Jose Saramago (winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature). In fact, his little group of people who go blind are a metaphor of these young people! However, since these students never see their own blindness, they never break out of their prison (as the blind people in Saramago’s book are able to do). I will continue to try to get my students to see their blindness and to break out of their digital prisons, but it is not easy. Sometimes, I am able to make some headway, and the student thanks me, but those moments are becoming less frequent as each “newer” and “dumber” generation enters my classroom.
Oh well. I still have my newspapers, my writing and my variety of books (even some classics). Perhaps I am the one who is sealing himself into a cocoon of literacy! Remember the story by Ray Bradbury, “Farenheit 451”? They’ll burn the books soon, so I’d better start memorizing my favorites.