Last night on the NBC national news, I was struck by a piece about college applications today.

They assured us that we would be surprised at the kinds of questions being posed for the essays. Things such as, “What is your favorite amusement park ride?” or “What is the best thing about Tuesday?”

Sadly, as a senior citizen, I can’t remember all the other questions they listed, but you get the drift? Students apparently are hard-pressed to figure out the “right” answers.

I don’t know if NBC was intending to show us the state of our schools these days, but in a nutshell that’s what it did.

We graduate students who have been subjected to standardized tests up to three times a year. Outlandish numbers of students pay extra money to take courses on how to take the SATs.

We are surrounded by a culture that thinks that there is one right answer to our problems.

Young folks today know how to circle an answer with a No. 2 pencil, but how often do they debate difficult issues face-to-face? (It’s a lot easier to post your opinion on the Internet.) How much are they writing beyond tweeting and posting Facebook notes?

It’s frightening that today’s students are most stymied by the questions that require thought and creativity.

As for NBC, does it not understand that these questions are not new? (I answered some of the same type in the ’60s.) Or, perhaps, they purposely set out tongue-in-cheek to make us stop and think about what’s happening in our schools today. Let’s hope it’s the latter.

Diane Clay


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