By Joe Grant, Wiscasset Collateral damage and not so friendly fire. Our young are victims in the cultural war. Children have an enhanced and amazing ability to learn in a handful of critical years. The human brain reaches its maximum size at age 10 for girls and 14 for boys. After reaching a maximum, the number of synapses between neurons in the cortex is scaled back in the teenager. There is a selective pruning process in which synapses that are active are strengthened and those that are not used are pruned. This is a critical and brief time when the adult brain is assembled. Exploiting this opportunity, a student graduating the 8th grade in 1900 had a knowledge level superior to many of today’s high school graduates. To simplify, the brain at 18, except for the frontal cortex, is pretty much the brain they will have for the rest of their lives. Remedial college courses in math and English are too little too late. The opportunity has been lost. The limit has been set.There is a battle being waged for those young minds. A battle that pits cultural warriors and the education industrial complex against the children’s future and parent’s rights. The collateral damage in this battle is confused and unhappy children, increasing drug usage, and more teenage deaths. The current system is characterized by; falling test scores, lowering of standards, dropping requirements for advancement, abolition of grading systems and even debates as to whether any answer can be wrong. Dramatic and immediate changes are needed if we are to save the students and avoid crippling our nation’s future with ill prepared adults. It is time to pivot “back to the basics” and a system designed, tested, and proven to be successful. Life changing and irreversible decisions can be delayed until frontal cortex development is complete. All of us, students, parents, grandparents, working adults, and retirees have “skin in this game”. It is about all our futures.
The following is adapted from a talk delivered at Hillsdale College on October 3, 2023, during a conference on “U.S. Intelligence: History and Controversies.” We need the CIA, but we also need to recognize the uncomfortable reality that the CIA is not performing at the level we require. It is not keeping us safe. It