During the last 10+ years, I came to the conclusion that the worst things that happens to kids is going to school. I'm basically convinced now that the single-source of dumbing down kids is going to school.
The main reason for me is that kids don't learn really right things in school. They learn by the rote, for tests. There is a standard curriculum for all kids - one curriculum to rule them all. It is all based on tests (whether in the US, Europe, or elsewhere - it is the same everywhere).
I can't see any approach where:
a) Kids learn how they learn best
b) Kids learn based on their strengths & preferences
c) Kids have fun learning and learn having fun learning
I'm afraid, the only thing we do in schools is try to created "standardized human resources" for the economy. There is no learning of "creative thinking", understanding how one learns best, what one's strengths are, etc.
Form many, many direct observations, I have seen kids being "tortured" with standardized curricula though these were kids with strong artistic senses, or strong scientific senses, etc. Why, on earth, does a kid who loves STEM and is really a high-flyer in STEM, need to do well in Arts, Sports, and other topics in order to continue school/high-school/college? Same is true for kids who love Arts, Sports, or so who are tortured with STEM?
If someone loves history, geography, social sciences and is really strong in it, why do they need to do all the other crap?
It is a convoluted situation: We actually teach kids in school how NOT TO think for themselves anymore, how NOT to be creative, how NOT to understand how they learn - we just cram information into them for 10+ years and test whether this information-cramming worked or not with all school-tests...
I have no solution, but at least I believe I have (partially) identified the problem (for me) - next step would be to really try to find solutions.
Caveat: Yes, I believe there are basic things that everybody should learn: reading, writing, basic math, basic history, basic geography - but this is something that can be done "on the side"...
Well, just the EUR 0.02 of a frustrated person - frustrated with the schooling system around the world (and no, I don't go to school anymore, I'm 45, but I also don't stop learning new things and am actually thinking about going to College - again...)