Blue: I know from experience with my kids that they ARE expected to know more going into kindergarten than my generation of kids was expected to know. But, a funny thing happens on the way to (hopefully) high school graduation: The kids today graduate with fewer knowledge and abilities overall than kids did 40-50 years ago. I asked a teacher: "Why is it that kids today are expected to know more than we did before they enter school, but they graduate high school knowing less?" She didn't know what to say. (Not blaming this all on teachers or the schools, as I firmly believe that "education starts at home", and I think the decline of the America nuclear family is a large factor).
I have been told many times that I speak too much in terms of generalities, and that sterotypes are invariably inaccurate in describing entire groups of people. And, I think I acknowledge the exceptions to the rule. But, how do we come to any conclusions about people unless we talk in generalities? How could you conclude, "Men are taller than women", if the fact that some women are taller than most men must always be acknowledged. There are always exceptions -- I'm sure there were some very tolerant, peace-loving Germans during WWII, but would it be so inaccurate to describe Nazi Germany as an intolerant, even aggressive society? I think the exceptions take care of themselves. Too much focus upon "there are always exceptions" tends to stop the discussion. After all, how can you discuss anything if you can't make general assertions and conclusions?
(P.S. I know what life was like for my parents and grandparents -- they told me, and I was an attentive listener to those stories. They told me of standing in bread and soup lines, they told me of putting cardboard in their shoes to cover a hole in the sole, they told me of being frequently uprooted because every time their parents seemed to be doing better and moved the family into a better residence, then things got worse again -- a job was lost, the landlord raised the rent again -- and off they went to find cheaper accomodations. I think they wanted me to have appreciation for the advantages that they afforded me that they did not have. Did your parents/grandparents not try to tell you these things? Were their lives less difficult and thus they had no stories of struggle to tell? Did you refuse to listen or not care to commit what you heard to memory? Interesting. I guess another assumption of mine is that anyone who lived through those pre-WWII years in America had much strife to overcome. Maybe there are exceptions in that as well)