Cultural Amnesia: America's Future and the Crisis of Memory
According to Bertman, just as an individual needs memories to maintain a sense of personal identity, so does a nation need them in order to survive. Like Alzheimer victims, however, today's Americans are rapidly losing a consciousness of history, and with it, a sense of national identity and direction.
Sixty percent of adult Americans don't know the name of the president who ordered the dropping of the first atomic bomb, 42% of college seniors can't place the Civil War in the right half-century, and 24% think Columbus discovered America in the 1500s. Meanwhile, more American teenagers can name the Three Stooges than the three branches of the federal government.
Applying the metaphor of Alzheimer's disease to our national state of mind, Bertman offers a chilling prognosis for our country's future unless radical steps for recovery are taken. He offers psychological insights into the nature of memory with perspectives on the meaning and future of democracy. With compelling evidence, the book demonstrates that cultural amnesia, like Alzheimer's disease, is an insidiously progressive and debilitating illness that is eating away at America's soul. Rather than superficially blaming memory loss on a failed educational system, Bertman looks beyond the classroom to the larger social forces that conspire to alienate Americans from their past: a materialistic creed that celebrates transience and disposability, and an electronic faith that worships the present to the exclusion of all other dimensions of time.
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Two out of three American adults couldn't find Vietnam ; three out of four couldn't
find the Persian Gulf ; almost half didn't know where Central America was located
; 15 percent put South Korea in the north and North Korea in the south ; 43 ...
And that means [ 1994's ] graduation ceremonies dumped about 750,000 more
semi - literate 18 - year - olds into the work force with high school diplomas
clutched in their fists . " 36 Of black high school seniors , 54 percent were “ below
In 1989 , only 35 percent of teachers in America's colleges and universities
believed “ it is essential or very important to teach students the classic works of
Western civilization . ” 61 Six years later , in 1995 , the percentage had dropped
to 28 ...
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Prologue The Land of the Lotuseaters
Memory and Personal Identity
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