At the same time, we could do better than we do. Quite a lot better. The willingness of the public schools to enforce standards of knowledge and attainment fell off the cliff during the 1960s. What? Standards? Someone better/smarter than someone else? We can't say things like that! Feelings might be hurt!
So -- ha, ha (not caring if I hurt feelings), I probably know more poetry than you do, simply because the public schools I attended, in the '50s, made us commit to memory such jewels as "Let us then be up and doing/with a heart for any fate/still achieving and pursuing/learn to labor and to wait."
The times in general are non-conducive to the pursuit of knowledge through (ugh!) looking at words on a page. Probably the point to bear in mind is that Our Times, as such, never last. They melt, they merge, they fade. Often, that's a good thing.
I worry along with the NEA about the state of reading -- the most enlivening of pastimes -- but I know at the same time that curiosity is uncontainable. Those who want to know will know.
Why, when ready, they'll even pick up a book and bury their noses between the pages to smell the glue. And then
For the rest of us, learn to labor and to wait.
Asymmetrical Politics: Republicans Act Like an Unruly Mob, Democrats Like a Regimented Army | Michael Barone