Indoctrination

Monday, August 31, AD 2015

 

I have always been pretty conservative.  Well, at least since the age of seven when I backed Barry Goldwater in 1964.  In college I often clashed with liberal professors.  I recall one education professor who went off on a leftist rant in class.  I stood it as long as I could and then yelled out, “That is garbage sir, pure garbage!”  The shocked look on my classmates was classic!  He graded my work in the course as an A anyway.  I have to hand it to all the liberal professors that I battled, that none of them downgraded me because of my stances.  Judging from the following at Instapundit, times have changed for the worse:

 

THEY OUGHT TO BE FIRED: It’s back to school time, and progressive professors at Washington State University are gearing up to suppress speech they personally find “offensive,” such as saying “illegal alien,” using the terms “male” or “female,” or failing to “defer” to the “experiences of people of color”:

In his “Introduction to Multicultural Literature,” for example, professor John Streamas informs students in his syllabus that he expects white students who want “to do well in this class” to “reflect” their “grasp of history and social relations” by “deferring to the experiences of people of color.”

The taxpayer-funded critical studies professor also writes in his syllabus that Glenn Beck is a member of a group of “insensitive whites.”

Streamas, who obtained his Ph.D. at Bowling Green State University, is most notable because he told a student who supports limits on illegal immigration: “You are just a white shitbag.” . . .

A second Washington State faculty member, Selena Lester Breikss, warns students in her “Women & Popular Culture” course this semester that they risk “failure for the semester” if they use the terms “male” or “female.” . . .

“Students will come to recognize how white privilege functions in everyday social structures and institutions,” Breikss adds.

Finally, not to be outdone, Washington State American studies professor Rebecca Fowler similarly warns students that she will lower their grades if they utter the phrase “illegal alien” at any time in her “Introduction to Comparative Ethnic Studies” course.

The taxpayer-funded Fowler proclaims that she bans students from using the phrase “illegal alien” because the Associated Press stylebook “no longer sanctions the term.”

The Associated Press stylebook is purely an advisory publication for professional journalists. It has no force of law whatsoever. . . . Public university students who dare to use the phrase “illegal alien” “will suffer a deduction of one point per incident,” Fowler warns.

Apparently these sensitive little snowflake professors cannot tolerate any disagreement. For their failure to tolerate a diversity of views and engage in actual teaching (rather than proselytizing), they should be terminated for “cause.” Parents and students should avoid this university at all costs, unless/until the University’s administration takes appropriate disciplinary action to ensure that all viewpoints are welcomed, even those that are “offensive.” It’s called “free speech,” and yes, it protects offensive speech, too.

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11 Responses to Indoctrination

  • This why Trump’s numbers are so large. He’s too rich to care about anyone’s opinion….and its refreshing. He’s the opposite of political correctness though as months go on he might offend so many groups ( short people e.g. via his Rand Paul quip..” I’ve had it up to here ( hand at mid chest ) with you”)….that they’ll be no group left he hasn’t insulted. Or people will just vote for him anyway as a four year vacation from under-disclosing pols.

  • Free speech for the professors but not for the students, I assume? Is free speech a goal, or a means to an end in academia? Whatever happened to the lifelong search for truth?
    Once that was the purpose of education and now truth has been relegated to being a flexible substance like clay, to be molded or kept locked up in a tin, never to be touched by any except the anointed.

  • Bill Clinton legalized a million illegal aliens making citizens of them one Saturday afternoon. Even though, the now legal aliens could not read English or the Constitution, they were instructed in how to vote for Bill Clinton, their benefactor, with our tax dollars. The illegal aliens are how Bill Clinton got a second term. and it is possible that Obama is more ruthless than Clinton, either one, Bill or Hillary. If Obama wants to be emperor, who is to stop him? or change the Constitution, who is to stop him? Illegal aliens cannot even read our road signs. So, the tax payers better not complain. Illegal alien has become a dirty word, and taxpayer has become an endangered species.

  • in 1974 I started college as a 26 year old Freshman on the GI bill. Our freshman chemistry class for science majors had maybe 150 students in it. The grand professor lectured 3 days a week and the TAs taught the other two days and ran the labs. On our first hourly, being nervous as I was new to college, as a jocular tension breaker I wrote JMJ on top of my paper. The TAs graded the papers and I got a good grade but my TA Herb(Jewish so he did not know) said the prof wanted to know what the JMJ was. I told him. Herb never graded any more of my papers, the mighty prof did and he marked the hell out of them. I could tell by Herb’s face that he was ashamed of the prof. I had to work like hell to salvage a B out of the course after a high A on the first hourly. So savagery against Christians by egotistical and atheistic professors is not a new thing for students but perhaps it is now more honestly dishonest. My class was at the University of Maryland.

  • College? I put up with this excrement in seventh grade…in a matter of speaking. In the last class of the day, the chapter in the textbook we were reading was covering the Olduvai Gorge in Africa, where some of the most ancient pre-human fossils have been found.

    The climate there is very hot and very dry – almost completely unhospitable to human life today. Being a smartass seventh grader, i said I wouldn’t want to live there. The teacher, a Mrs. Dawalt (she was called Daywart because of the massive mole on the side of her chin) asked me what I said and I repeated myself. She gave me a C grade the rest of the year even though I got As and Bs on all my tests, quizzes and homework. You see, I was a racist – according to her.

    Kent State University is a rat’s nest of leftists, with the possible exception of the business school, but that exception was during the Reagan Administration. Now, who knows? I hope my sons grow up to be hockey players or electricians or restore classic cars. Higher education is a multi-billion dollar ripoff.

  • I was too Catholic in a catholic university. Still got good grades and ultimately it gave me a better education for having to dig deeper to argue my points.

  • Trump reminds me of Nimrod.

  • Trump favorite book is the bible.
    If this was the gong show he’d be gone.
    I am not impressed either by politically correct speech nor impolitic speech..
    It’s truth we are after
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    Trump = liar
    Hillary = liar

  • Trump makes me laugh. I wander what type of President he would be if elected into office. I only know him from The Apprentice- a permanent scowl and horrible hair. You can’t get worse than your current…can you?

  • What to do about those fascists?
    .

    Someday the worm will turn.
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    Seven out of ten believe America is headed the wrong way. The rulers do not care about the majority.
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    The middle class and its economic power are in sharp decline (burgeoning Obamcare taxes, skyrocketing energy (global warming, war on coal) costs, regulations Dodd-Frank, CFPB, etc.) killing agriculture, banking, commerce, etc.). And, those fascist, philosopher kings want it like that because craven dependents and serfs are easier to control. .
    .
    What are you prepared to do?

  • Our youngest son has gone back to school in liberal Northern VA to prep for transfer into petroleum engineering. This semester he signed up for Sociology 101as an elective. Since he’s very logical and conservative, my parental advice on taking a “soft science” like soc was ” just regurgitate what your prof tells you or your grade will suffer”. Our older son signed up for a first year English lit course at a CA college. Turned out It was not as advertised as it was all about Black Power. The syllabus came out after the drop date (a sneaky trick which more and more profs are pulling). He told the administration that he felt his personal safety was threatened in that class as a Caucasian minority; he’s a tough kid so it must have been bad. Luckily he was able to drop w/o any financial or academic penalties. He transferred to another state university as a hard science major where he didn’t have to listen to any nutty BS.
    On the other hand my husband on his grad school application to an liberal Ivy League university, stated that he was conservative politically and they should admit him for diversity. He was admitted. We think it was the DOD funded scholarship that they couldn’t resist.

A Threat to the Social Order

Wednesday, February 25, AD 2015

Old regimes die hard and no greater threat exists to the way things are done in this country than Scott Walker.  Elected as a Republican governor twice in a formerly blue state, and the victor in a recall attempt, Walker broke the cash nexus between public employee unions and the Democrat party.  By making membership in most public employee unions voluntary, he has sent membership figures and dues through the floor and dried up one of the main cash cows for the Democrat party in Wisconsin, and broken the stranglehold the public employees had on the state budget.  For this revolutionary act he is enemy number one for the Democrats who view a possible successful run for the Presidency by Walker with the same enthusiasm that vampires have for garlic.  The latest non-issue that Democrats have sought to pillory him for, is that he dropped out of college a few credits shy of his BA degree to take a job.

Most Americans of course lack a four year college degree, but it is unusual these days for a high profile politician not to have one. I doubt if it is a political disadvantage since most people I think can distinguish between the wisdom a person possesses, or does not possess, as opposed to the credentials they have.  However, Robert Tracinski at The Federalist explains why this non-issue has been seized upon by the Democrats:

 

 

There are no real class divisions in America except one: the college-educated versus the non-college educated. It helps to think of this in terms borrowed from the world of a Jane Austen novel: graduating from college is what makes you a “gentleman.” (A degree from an Ivy League school makes you part of the aristocracy.) It qualifies you to marry the right people and hold the right kind of positions. It makes you respectable. And even if you don’t achieve much in the world of work and business, even if you’re still working as a barista ten years later, you still retain that special status. It’s a modern form of “genteel poverty,” which is considered superior to the regular kind of poverty.

If you don’t have a college degree, by contrast, you are looked down upon as a vulgar commoner who is presumptuously attempting to rise above his station. Which is pretty much what they’re saying about Scott Walker. This prejudice is particularly strong when applied to anyone from the right, whose retrograde views are easily attributed to his lack of attendance at the gentleman’s finishing school that is the university.

That brings us to the heart of the matter. I have observed before that left-leaning politics has become “part of the cultural class identity of college-educated people,” a prejudice that lingers long after they have graduated. You can see how this goes the other way, too. If to be college-educated is to have left-leaning views—then to have the “correct” political values, one must be college-educated.

You can see now what is fueling the reaction on the left. If Scott Walker can run for president, he is challenging the basic cultural class identity of the mainstream left. He is more than a threat to the Democrats’ hold on political power. He is a threat to the existing social order.

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16 Responses to A Threat to the Social Order

  • Not something peculiar to the US.

    In France, a common term of derision for the products of the grandes écoles is « Les talons rouges » from the red heels worn by the nobility under the Ancien Régime.

    In the UK, I once heard the Oxford manner described as “an infinite superiority that one is much too well-bred to show, but which is, nevertheless, apparent.

  • I got over that when an acquaintance, not genteel, wise nor elite in Any way achieved a graduate degree in divinity at Oxford. One could say of institutions as is said about people: “by their fruits you shall know them!”

  • Let the hits keep coming I say, because the more the media presses the attack on Walker the more likely that he, and not Jeb Bush, will be the nominee. Not that Walker is necessarily my top pick at the moment, but he’s a damn sight preferable to Bush.

    As for the wider subject of college education, I am in wide agreement with Don. Probably one of the most educational periods of my life was the two year period between college and graduate school where I read more great works of literature than at any other time in my life. As well-credentialed as I am, it’s the stuff that I have read and experienced outside of school that has been some of the most fulfilling. And I gotta say that though I attended a rather top-tier university undergrad, the sheer number of idiots I encountered was proof that a university education is not indicative, in and of itself, that a person is intelligent.

  • It is time for a change!

    Everything the lying, ivy-league credentialled morons has touched has turned to $#!+.

    Each day they provide evidence that one doesn’t have to be “smart” to obtain a “Fancy-pants” degree in some nonreality-based, useless course of study.

  • Class marker or cultural marker? Potato, paideia.
    .
    Go Scott go.

  • Scott Walker is my man. He is a stand up guy, a truth teller, a man of action, fearless, determined, etc. Scott means to reduce the size of government and eliminate government unions. Of course, Democrat elites hate for all this as they believe the common man is stupid and driven by his appetites. Accordingly, in their elevated and ‘merciful’ view government is needed to control the actions of the common man thru various welfare schemes, support of unions thru favorable laws, support of big business thru tax breaks. All of this probably gives the Democrats 45% of the vote. Scott Walker is messing with their sacred formula for success so must described as lacking in education, heartless and a veritable monster of iniquity, a true enemy of the people. But Scott has an appealing advantage: his actions speak much louder. Let hope enough people are listening.

  • In his book “Coming Apart: The State of White America 1960-2010” Charles Murray (of “Bell Curve” fame) does an exemplary job of describing the self-segregated, elitist disconnect that the “Educated” class is inflicting upon itself.
    .
    Among other things, he coins the abbreviation “OES,” for “Over-educated Elitist Snobs” and reinforces the distinction on a number of levels. He also shows how they are increasingly clustering in cocooned, private little enclaves with little to no daily contact with the rest of us and how they are, as a result, overwhelmingly liberal.
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    Good read. Highly recommended.

  • Perhaps Scott Walker should be proud that he lacks a college degree, given how today’s secular Academia is completely overtaken by Marxists.
    .
    Confession: I have work in nuclear energy for all my adult life, starting as a submarine reactor operator decades ago. I never did get a college degree, yet I have been an engineering training instructor teaching college graduates entering the nuclear industry the basics of mathematics and engineering. Some graduates were super knowledgeable, but far too many were abysmally ignorant and wholly given over to liberal progressive talking points.
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    If I wanted to know something, then I picked up the tech manual and studied it. Then I went out in the field and did what I had studied. And one other thing: Naval Nuclear Training beats the heck out of anything Academia teaches. It is quite motivating to hear your submarine reactor theory instructor say, “If you get your estimate critical rod position incorrect, then you may want to learn how to breathe seawater.” Surprise, surprise: I was opposed to the consequences of not learning my math.
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    PS, no offense is intended towards those people here who worked hard the old fashion way for their college degree and actually put it to good use, having studied something besides gender theory, modern art or the engineering of basket weaving.

  • Somewhat related, it’s just amazing how the vast majority of the officers being kicked out– or forced to resign– are the ones that went through the military academy, rather than normal college. (80%, last I heard.)
    I use to be skeptical about if that was anything but happenstance– then officers I know wouldn’t do what they were accused of, who actually fought against what they were held responsible for, were forced out.
    Having college may or may not make a difference in one’s views, but it’s pretty obvious that they think it does.

  • PZ wrote, “I gotta say that though I attended a rather top-tier university undergrad, the sheer number of idiots I encountered was proof that a university education is not indicative, in and of itself, that a person is intelligent.”
    As my old tutor, Miss Anscombe advised me, “even if one is not particularly clever, one can still be learned. A lot of people here have cut a very respectable figure that way.”

  • If the silly, giggling interviewees, looking expectantly at the interviewer for the ‘answer’ as if doing so is customary , are a microcosm of the social order; then Scott Walker would have a Herculean task to stand. Is agreeable cluelessness cool now? Each sadly looks at the other’s empty face for indications. Someone had better put the fear of God into them, or at least, sobriety; they won’t be so silly when ‘cute’ isn’t a great asset in a more mature reality of life and death.

  • Has anyone seen a copy of any college diploma from the current occupant? The last I heard, all those school records are still sealed.

  • The left loves to look down their noses at any republican that does not have an advanced degree. Sarah Palin comes to mind. She was ravaged by the liberal media for “only having a bachelor’s degree” that she obtained by going to a more than one college. So the latest is Scott Walker these weasels will try to destroy. It’s really Palin all over again. The common working man can identify with them so they are to be destroyed at all costs. Democrats only do this to republicans. They give a pass to any democrat for any reason. Whether it’s lying about being a Vietnam vet or their sexual perversions being ignored as in the cases of Bill Clinton and others, democrats get a pass. Republicans are to be destroyed. The current fraud-in-chief claims he has a a master’s from Columbia but has never presented a transcript showing he was a graduate of that school or any other school. He’s the first president in American history that was given a pass on actually proving his education credentials. He claims he was a a graduate of Columbia but no one can remember him being there. The only democrat president in my lifetime that’s worth being mentioned, that didn’t try to destroy the country, was Harry Truman and Harry Truman did not have a college degree.

  • FYI: The people (both Bushes, Greenspan, Bernanke, Clintons, Obama, et al) that have destroyed the USA economy and standing in the world (with their brilliance) almost entirely are ivy-league maleducated.

    And, James and D Black: That which you suggest prove youse is racists!

  • Paul W Primavera, I had a sense that we had something in common. Years ago, and most such things are years ago, we were all making small talk during an office coffee break and the well educated man who hired me, also years before, asked, apparently out of his forgetfulness, “Bill, where did you get your degree?” I said, “Roger, I am an autodidact.” His silent response was palpable, not because of his having forgotten my curriculum vitae but that he apparently didn’t know the definition of the word “Autodidact”.

  • Not to get off the point of the article. But there is also class division between people with 2 year degrees and 4 year degrees or greater. I know that people think that if you only do a 2 year degree you just couldn’t make it at a 4 year college. Granted the class gap between 2 and 4 year is not as great as college grad and non college grad it does exist. In this day and age of the high cost of college I encouraged my children to consider a 2 year degree instead of 4 year degree. I know more education could be better but with the loans that students have to take out for a 4 year degree is a huge anchor around there neck. Some of the smartest people I know are not college grads and have more common sense than any college grad.

Indoctrination Not Education

Monday, October 13, AD 2014

Indoctrination

 

Ericka Andersen at Victory Girls, gives us yet another example of the way in which education is often simple indoctrination these days:

 

The University of California-San Francisco is launching a new course on abortion, the first class of it’s kind.

The aim is to “contextualize abortion care within a public health framework from both clinical and social perspectives.”

What “Abortion: Quality Care and Public Health Implications” is really striving to do is normalize abortion as a typical healthcare procedure.

What they don’t acknowledge is that almost all abortions are elective — and only 3% are due to problems with the mother’s actual health. There are also a small percentage of abortions performed on rape or incest victims, but this is also about 3%. At least (and that’s being generous) 90% of abortions are elective — for reasons such as “not ready,” “too young,” “inconvenient,” “don’t want people to know I’m pregnant,” or “inadequate finances.”

Renowned abortion researcher Alan Guttmacher once said, “Today it is possible for almost any patient to be brought through pregnancy alive, unless she suffers from a fatal illness such as cancer or leukemia, and, if so, abortion would be unlikely to prolong, much less save, life.”

By the way, Guttmacher served as president of Planned Parenthood and vice-president of the American Eugenics Society, but that’s just a little detail.

Abortion is almost never healthcare. If anything, it’s the opposite. Doesn’t a doctor pledge to, “First, do no harm.” It’s beyond comprehension how any doctor can perform abortions and remember that’s an oath they took. Of course, it wasn’t hard to find one who has no trouble with it.

“I think that if we can inspire even a small portion of the people who take the course to take steps in their communities to increase access to safe abortion and decrease stigma about abortion, then we have been totally successful,” Dr. Jody Steinauer, associate professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at the University of California – San Francisco said.

Steinauer noted that this “stigma” results in silence on the issue of and leads people “to believe that [abortion] is not common,” when it  is.

The course syllabus includes sections on “overcoming obstacles to abortion access” and “patient-centered care for first-trimester abortion.” Well, I’m glad to see they haven’t graduated to late-term abortion care but that can’t be too far down the road.

Here’s the thing, University of California, abortion will never be normalized. A 2012 Gallup poll showed that Americans lean pro-life by a nine point margin. You can’t deflect the reality of abortion, which is ending the life of a human being in growth. There’s literally no way around the science of when life begins. You can only justify in blind denial after that.

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8 Responses to Indoctrination Not Education

  • “There’s literally no way around the science of when life begins ..”

    But what follows? In his 1995 essay, Rethinking Life and Death, Princeton bioethicist Peter Singer famously demanded, “[The argument that a fetus is not alive] is a resort to a convenient fiction that turns an evidently living being into one that legally is not alive. Instead of accepting such fictions, we should recognise that the fact that a being is human, and alive, does not in itself tell us whether it is wrong to take that being’s life” and he goes on to justify both abortion and infanticide.

    In 2012 a paper in the Journal of Medical Ethics, “After-birth abortion: why should the baby live?” by Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva, expressed similar views.

    In France, as long ago as 1975, the first article of the Veil Law ((Law No. 75-17 of January 1975, concerning the Voluntary Termination of Pregnancy) declares, “The law guarantees respect for every human being from the outset of life. There shall be no derogation from this principle except in cases of necessity and under the conditions laid down by this Law.” If derogation from the right to life is permitted, there seems no logical reason why this should not apply after birth, as well as before it.

    For centuries before that, the common French euphemism for an abortionist was (and is) « faiseuse d’anges » [Angel Maker], scarcely the term anyone would have coined to describe the removal of a clump of cells.

    Is the beginning of life any longer relevant to the debate (if it ever was)?

  • “Is the beginning of life any longer relevant to the debate (if it ever was)?”

    Only to those who want to have ethics better than that of child murderers.

  • Rethinking Life and Death, Princeton bioethicist Peter Singer famously demanded, “[The argument that a fetus is not alive] is a resort to a convenient fiction that turns an evidently living being into one that legally is not alive. Instead of accepting such fictions, we should recognise that the fact that a being is human, and alive, does not in itself tell us whether it is wrong to take that being’s life” and he goes on to justify both abortion and infanticide.
    In 2012 a paper in the Journal of Medical Ethics, “After-birth abortion: why should the baby live?” by Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva, expressed similar views.
    .
    Peter Singer came from Australia. Germany refused to allow him to enter. Princeton gave Singer welcome. Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva (a likely name from the goddess of wisdom) are not American citizens, either. None of these individuals have any idea about unalienable human rights, God given free will and endowed sovereign personhood.
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    “For centuries before that, the common French euphemism for an abortionist was (and is) « faiseuse d’anges » [Angel Maker], scarcely the term anyone would have coined to describe the removal of a clump of cells.”
    .
    Abortion is the removal of the rational, immortal human soul. Those who deny the soul have no legitimate excuse for being.

  • Abortion, like murder, is a sin against the Author of Life wherein the abortionist/murderer on instructions from the would-be father/mother violently destroys a gestational person: usurping God’s will. All life is His creation.

  • Just as abortion is being regularized within the culture, physician assisted suicide is the latest evolution of the right to control one’s body and one’s life.
    .
    Abortion and physician assisted suicide subsist under the same umbrella of individual liberty for which their proponents claim recognition and protection of the state. Those who promote life are maligned as opposing and placing obstacles in the path of individual liberty and self determination.
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    The mantra of “Compassion and Choices”, successor to the Hemlock Society, and a staunch proponent of physican assisted suicide is control and choice compassionately executed.
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    Should we be surprised that a right to life is no longer assured to those outside the womb?
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    See, https://www.facebook.com/CompassionandChoicesConnecticut
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    https://www.compassionandchoices.org/what-you-can-do/in-your-state/connecticut/

  • In a characteristically penetrating observation, Slainté asks, “Should we be surprised that a right to life is no longer assured to those outside the womb?”

    Frankly, no. For too long we have been led up the blind alley of “natura pura” – the notion of a “natural order,” governed by “Natural Law,” consisting of truths accessible to unaided human reason, as something that can be kept separate from the supernatural truths revealed in the Gospel.

    Against this, we have Maurice Blondel’s insistence that that we must never forget “that one cannot think or act anywhere as if we do not all have a supernatural destiny. Because, since it concerns the human being such as he is, in concreto, in his living and total reality, not in a simple state of hypothetical nature, nothing is truly complete (boucle), even in the sheerly natural order.” It was of Blondel that Cardinal de Lubac said, “he is the one who launched the decisive attack on the dualist theory that was destroying Christian thought.”
    Jacques Maritain, too, declared that “Man is not in a state of pure nature, he is fallen and redeemed. Consequently, ethics, in the widest sense of the word, that is, in so far as it bears on all practical matters of human action, politics and economics, practical psychology, collective psychology, sociology, as well as individual morality,—ethics in so far as it takes man in his concrete state, in his existential being, is not a purely philosophic discipline. Of itself it has to do with theology…”

    This is not new doctrine. One recalls Pascal who, drawing on the thought of St Augustine, reminded us long ago that “man without faith cannot know the true good, nor justice” and “without Scripture, which has only Jesus Christ for its object, we know nothing and see only obscurity and confusion in God’s nature and ours.”

  • MPS writes: “…One recalls Pascal who, drawing on the thought of St Augustine, reminded us long ago that “man without faith cannot know the true good, nor justice”
    .
    One wonders how Pascal might have responded to modern day secular uber-liberals who disregard the integrity of life in favor of a flawed understanding of personal liberty and choice?
    .
    Is there an antidote, other than Faith, which might cause proponents of “choice” to recognize that it is neither good or just to choose to extinguish life in the womb (abortion) or outside the womb (physician assisted suicide)?

  • Slainté asks, “Is there an antidote, other than Faith, which might cause proponents of “choice” to recognize that it is neither good or just to choose to extinguish life in the womb (abortion) or outside the womb (physician assisted suicide)?”
    Pascal, I believe, would not have been particularly sanguine. “On what shall man found the order of the world which he would govern? Shall it be on the caprice of each individual? What confusion! Shall it be on justice? Man is ignorant of it.” As to Natural Law, “Men admit that justice does not consist in these customs, but that it resides in natural laws, common to every country. They would certainly maintain it obstinately, if reckless chance which has distributed human laws had encountered even one which was universal; but the farce [la plaisanterie] is that the caprice of men has so many vagaries that there is no such law Theft, incest, infanticide, parricide, have all had a place among virtuous actions.”
    As for the civil law, he was a thorough Positivist: “He who obeys them [the laws] because they are just, obeys a justice which is imaginary and not the essence of law; it is quite self-contained [elle est toute ramassée en soi], it is law and nothing more.”

Gone With the Wind and Proud Contemporary Ignorance

Wednesday, October 1, AD 2014

Apparently some of the young, in addition to not reading, can’t even be bothered to watch a classic film, even when they purport to have an interest in films.  John Nolte at Breitbart gives us the grim details:

 

 

Monday we learned that a 25 year-old taking graduate-level journalism classes at New York University had no idea what an editorial was. Today we learn that “most” of the students taking a film class at Georgetown University have never seen “Gone with the Wind.”

[W]hen I asked 13 students in a Georgetown University film class if they’d seen it, most either hadn’t seen the film or had seen only parts of it. These students are serious about movies. But a lot of them sided with Mike Minahan, 20, who said when it comes to Gone with the Wind — frankly, he doesn’t give a damn.

“Everything I’ve seen about it says it, like, glorifies the slave era … and I dunno, what’s the point of that? I don’t see that as a good time in history … like, oh, sweet, a love story of people who own slaves.”

The students had two issues with Gone with the Wind: race and rape.

What a relief it is to know that the next generation of film reviewers, writers, and makers will be politically correct, uneducated, narrow-minded provincials completely out of touch with the real world. You know, just like the current crop of film reviewers, writers and makers.

A poll released Monday shows that 73% of Americans consider “Gone with the Wind” one of the best movies ever.

Not only are these close-minded students missing one of the grandest pieces of entertainment ever released in any medium, but a piece of cinema history that will live on long past any of us. In 1939, GWTW was an epic technical achievement. Seventy-five years later, in this age of CGI, producer David O. Selznick’s masterpiece is even more impressive.

Moreover, the idea that GWTW glorifies rape is laughable. Leftists are supposed to be Captains of Nuance and yet they seem incapable of understanding that this so-called rape is in reality the end result of a complicated dance of seduction between Rhett and Scarlett. As far as the film’s backwards portrayal of slaves and blacks, if you’re going to discount and dismiss any art based on current mores and values, you’re nothing more than a modern day Production Code.

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7 Responses to Gone With the Wind and Proud Contemporary Ignorance

  • They remove the Classics so as to facilitate the indoctrination (“children of our times”) not education of students.

    Post-modern academia/journalism/scholarship derives conclusions based on ideology and not data, facts, logic. It relies on anecdotes and stereotypes incorporated in mental, emotional filters.
    .
    The post-modern academy is venal. Its purpose is to advance the nightmare narrative and provide continual propaganda for the progressive program. It seamlessly imbeds fabrications into facts. It sees reading as arbitrary and personal. A theory cannot be proven only disproven. Post-modern also called Behavioral) academics invent facts, deny/ignore errors, display arrogance and execrate anybody that provides opposing evidence. For those liars, truth, facts, realities, and history do not exist. They are clay in their hands. They use them to make a point. Whatever they need to twist or omit is justified by their purity of intentions – and they always have the purest of intentions.

  • Gone With the Wind is one of the few movies that I have seen in a different light with each viewing, Dr. Strangelove being another. Yes, I’ve come away after seeing it with the same feelings expressed by Mike Minahan (more than once, actually), but other times I’ve have different – though never opposite – reactions. A good movie will go that.

    My son is covering Roman history right now, and he asked me about the First Triumvirate last night. I suggested that we watch Spartacus this weekend, since it is a mostly accurate account of those days. He’s resisting with the excuse that movies are too long to sit through anymore. Sigh.

  • Civilization, cultures, manners, humanity, love and art lost and debased in cerebral activity that doesn’t percolate to achieve understanding beyond the bonds of skin color and sexual activity. Last night, I indulged in the four hour movie with musical accompaniment to actual Introduction, Intermission ( Entr’Acte to boot), and Conclusion – and enjoyed a full spectrum expression of human dignity and love.
    ” The students had two issues with Gone with the Wind: race and rape. ” Homogenized minds.

  • I watched part of (it’s crazy long) Birth of Nation for a film class in college. It makes Gone with the Wind look like a Spike Lee movie. How precious are these kids that they can’t watch some classic films in context? Grow up.

  • Thanks Don for the link to your 2010 Spartacusreview. Yep, my “mostly accurate” comment was an attempt to balance “howlers” and “atmosphere”. One major howler was the crucifixion of a young Roman soldier by orders of Spartacus. Inclusion of that in the film would have ruined the ‘noble slave’ theme, no?

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Indoctrination Not Education

Sunday, July 27, AD 2014

 

 

One of the more ironic developments during the past half century has been the transformation of most colleges and universities from places of learning into citadels of indoctrination.  Examples abound.  Here is a recent one:

An Ohio State University (OSU) class has apparently determined another fundamental difference between Christians and atheists: their IQ points.

An online quiz from the school’s Psychology 1100 class, provided to Campus Reform via tip, asked students to pick which scenario they found most likely given that “Theo has an IQ of 100 and Aine has an IQ of 125.”

The correct answer? “Aine is an atheist, while Theo is a Christian.”

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7 Responses to Indoctrination Not Education

  • Two observations

    1. Tom Wolfe’s view that the press corps is largely made up of men who were clocked on the school playground and want revenge.

    2. Barry Allan Shain’s assessment (unpublished) that faculty are largely made up of people who, as youths, were less affluent than the students they teach and not as socially adept as the students they teach.

    Both men offered that these formative experiences are important vectors, if not dominant vectors, in explaining the politics of these occupational groups.

  • I noticed this when I was at Kent State in the 1980s. Much of the KSU faculty I encountered was a bunch of leftists. Given what happened there in May 1970 I expected that.

    The Leftists thoroughly permeate the educational bureaucratic monster that engufs billions of taxpayer dollars and indoctrinates children.

  • Professors and upperclassmen in the STEM departments are often amused by the innumeracy of people in the Psych department, especially their profs and TAs. The Psychos are doubly incompetent at statistics.

  • Micha Elyi

    I have met two Fields Medallists (both French) and, as it happens, one was a practising Catholic and the other an orthodox Jew. One has no way of knowing, of course, but I would imagine their IQs were pretty considerable

  • Education is teaching persons how to think, not what to think. A thinking person wants to know how an individual can stand as an example for an entire group of his peers. Teachers are entrusted with minor children who have not achieved emancipation, children, who must be taught how to challenge the status quo, or civilization will go backwards to the invention of the wheel.
    .
    When adults have not been taught how to think, they cannot appreciate freedom, they remain children, uninformed.

  • “The Mortal Storm”, a movie from 1940 depicting 1933 Germany, is about half over as I post this comment. There is human interest involving transformations of friends of youth, a professor at work, and the changes in family life.

    Education has now become a product of political party, union, and lobbying to, in the bottom line, generate solid income for them.

  • “Education has now become a product of political party, union, and lobbying to, in the bottom line, generate solid income for them.”

    Income and CONTROL for them. Emphasize the word control.

Mayor to New York City Students: No Escape

Monday, March 3, AD 2014

 

Comrade Bill

 

Lenin wannabe Bill de Blasio, Mayor of New York City, has kept a promise to the teacher unions to go after charter schools:

 

 

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio took off the gloves in his battle with education reformers, rescinding an agreement for the city to share space with several public charter schools.

The move undercuts educators, parents and some 700 students at four schools, including Harlem Success 4, one of the public charter school movement’s top success stories, and two set to open in the fall. While agreements at those schools were rescinded, expansion of a fourth school was also blocked. The schools were to operate rent-free in city-owned facilities under deals backed by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an ardent supporter of charter schools.

 But de Blasio, who is an unabashed critic of charter schools and won election with full-throated support of the United Federation of Teachers, said in a statement some of the city’s agreements to share class space will be voided. City officials said some of the deals that were stricken would have had elementary students attending class in high school buildings or forced cuts for public school special needs students.
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11 Responses to Mayor to New York City Students: No Escape

  • United Federation of Teachers serve “in loco parentis” and are allowed to teach only what the parents of the students allow them to teach. No tax money for United Federation of Teachers until they acknowledge that they serve the public schools in place of parental authority. If the United Federation of Teachers refuses to acknowledge their duty in respect to parents, they must find another name as the one they use is false advertising.
    If the charter school parents want charter schools, the United Federation of Teachers must accede to the parents’ desires.

  • It’s a sad day in America when the farce/propaganda advertisements are more truthful than the real ones.

  • Useful idiot DeBlasio is merely paying back the teachers’ union . . .

    No one cares about poor kids.

    The headline in the NY Post the day the commie was inaugurated: “Red Dawn.”

  • Sorrow. Angst. Please God -help us. Turn this tide around.

  • Thank God when I went to school history, algebra, geometry, trigonometry, pre-calculus, a foreign language (Latin for me), biology, chemistry, and physics were still required subjects. Everyone should be able to do polynomials, figure out forces using the law of levers, explain Julius Caesar’s assassination, build a simple lead acid battery, read Cicero’s orations in the original tongue, and write comprehensible prose in the English language.

    We are so smart with our smart phones that we are dumber than dirt.

  • The sheer fecklessness of New York City’s electorate in putting this silly and ignorant man in charge of anything just boggles the mind.

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  • Another not-good sign: the campaign manager credited with getting de Blasio elected mayor has been hired to run Ill. Gov. Pat Quinn’s campaign for reelection, and this move is seen as a signal that Quinn will be running a “populist,” i.e. hard-left, campaign:

    http://capitolfax.com/2014/02/22/quinn-taps-de-blasio-aide-as-chief-strategist/

    This is probably being done in anticipation of Quinn’s general election opponent being Bruce Rauner, Chicago gazillionaire .01 percenter who can best be described as Mitt Romney on Steroids (when it comes to economic issues), minus any concern for social/moral issues.

  • The Illinois Republican Party seems to have expired around about 1999 and no one bothered to bury the corpse.

  • Art Deco: “The sheer fecklessness of New York City’s electorate in putting this silly and ignorant man in charge of anything just boggles the mind.”
    .
    I do not believe that the electorate put this man in office.

  • Since NYC is a legal creation of the state of New York, and thus retains only those powers granted to it by the state, why doesn’t one – just one – state legislator introduce a bill for the state to take over the municipal properties used by these charter schools? People need to stop their silence in the face of this egalitarian bullying.

Report: Bowdoin College Intolerant of Opposing Viewpoints. Rebuttal: Of Course We Tolerate Diversity, You Ignorant Bigot.

Saturday, April 6, AD 2013

This is one of those stories that is both incredibly amusing and frustratingly sad.

First, the background. An investor and philanthropist named Thomas Klingenstein played a round of golf with Bowdoin College President Barry Mills. Klingenstein expressed his frustration with what he perceived as the college’s lack of intellectual diversity and close-mindedness to certain viewpoints. What happened next is a matter of some dispute.

In his address, President Mills described the golf outing and said he had been interrupted in the middle of a swing by a fellow golfer’s announcement: “I would never support Bowdoin—you are a ridiculous liberal school that brings all the wrong students to campus for all the wrong reasons,” said the other golfer, in Mr. Mills’s telling. During Mr. Mills’s next swing, he recalled, the man blasted Bowdoin’s “misplaced and misguided diversity efforts.” At the end of the round, the college president told the students, “I walked off the course in despair.”

Word of the speech soon got to Mr. Klingenstein. Even though he hadn’t been named in the Mills account, Mr. Klingenstein took to the pages of the Claremont Review of Books to call it nonsense: “He didn’t like my views, so he turned me into a backswing interrupting, Bowdoin-hating boor who wants to return to the segregated days of Jim Crow.”

The real story, wrote Mr. Klingenstein, was that “I explained my disapproval of ‘diversity’ as it generally has been implemented on college campuses: too much celebration of racial and ethnic difference,” coupled with “not enough celebration of our common American identity.”

For this, wrote Mr. Klingenstein, Bowdoin’s president insinuated that he was a racist. And President Mills did so, moreover, in an address that purported to stress the need for respecting the opinions of others across the political spectrum. “We are, in the main, a place of liberal political persuasion,” he told the students, but “we must be willing to entertain diverse perspectives throughout our community. . . . Diversity of ideas at all levels of the college is crucial for our credibility and for our educational mission.” Wrote Mr. Klingenstein: “Would it be uncharitable to suggest that, in a speech calling for more sensitivity to conservative views, he might have shown some?”

At any rate, Klingenstein commissioned a study to examine the education and culture of Bowdoin. The results of the report, which can be found here, are not a surprise to anyone remotely familiar with the state of college education today.

Funded by Mr. Klingenstein, researchers from the National Association of Scholars studied speeches by Bowdoin presidents and deans, formal statements of the college’s principles, official faculty reports and notes of faculty meetings, academic course lists and syllabi, books and articles by professors, the archive of the Bowdoin Orient newspaper and more. They analyzed the school’s history back to its founding in 1794, focusing on the past 45 years—during which, they argue, Bowdoin’s character changed dramatically for the worse.

Published Wednesday, the report demonstrates how Bowdoin has become an intellectual monoculture dedicated above all to identity politics.

The Klingenstein report nicely captures the illiberal or fallacious aspects of this campus doctrine, but the paper’s true contribution is in recording some of its absurd manifestations at Bowdoin. For example, the college has “no curricular requirements that center on the American founding or the history of the nation.” Even history majors aren’t required to take a single course in American history. In the History Department, no course is devoted to American political, military, diplomatic or intellectual history—the only ones available are organized around some aspect of race, class, gender or sexuality.

One of the few requirements is that Bowdoin students take a yearlong freshman seminar. Some of the 37 seminars offered this year: “Affirmative Action and U.S. Society,” “Fictions of Freedom,” “Racism,” “Queer Gardens” (which “examines the work of gay and lesbian gardeners and traces how marginal identities find expression in specific garden spaces”), “Sexual Life of Colonialism” and “Modern Western Prostitutes.”

Regarding Bowdoin professors, the report estimates that “four or five out of approximately 182 full-time faculty members might be described as politically conservative.” In the 2012 election cycle, 100% of faculty donations went to President Obama. Not that any of this matters if you have ever asked around the faculty lounge.

The response of one of the faculty members to this finding demonstrates the effects of life in a cocoon.

“A political imbalance [among faculty] was no more significant than having an imbalance between Red Sox and Yankee fans,” sniffed Henry C.W. Laurence, a Bowdoin professor of government, in 2004. He added that the suggestion that liberal professors cannot fairly reflect conservative views in classroom discussions is “intellectually bankrupt, professionally insulting and, fortunately, wildly inaccurate.”

Perhaps so. But he’d have a stronger case if, for example, his colleague Marc Hetherington hadn’t written the same year in Bowdoin’s newspaper that liberal professors outnumber conservatives because conservatives don’t “place the same emphasis on the accumulation of knowledge that liberals do.”

Even more revealing are the comments at this section of the NAS website, where several students and other observers chimed in, many critically. This comment is representative:

I always find it interesting when people pass off “studies” without doing any real first-hand research. As a female who attended the college during what could be called the “good old boy” days that the authors seem to be longing for, I feel that nothing in this report echoes of truth. To attack the College for its focus on promoting the Common Good, seeking a diverse student body and educating students on a global topics that cover different races and ethnicities really just points out the incredible narrowmindedness of the authors. Most of the criticisms of the College focused on characteristics that make me proud to be an alum. And as an alum who interviews high school students, I can also say that these are the very same characteristics of the College that attract driven, intelligent and well-rounded students each year.

It’s hard to not read this report and feel that the authors long for a time when the school was predominantly white males from eastern boarding schools. To that I say, good for Bowdoin. Be everything these authors do not want to be. Because that is the direction I, as an alumna, would like to see you continuing to move in.

Well done. The author of these two paragraphs does more to affirm the premise of the report than the report ever could. Not only does she blithely dismiss the report’s authors as individuals pining for the days of Jim Crow and white male domination, she completely misses the point of the report. So in calling out the authors for being narrowminded, she helps prove that it her side of the debate that is narrowminded and unable to get beyond certain stereotypical thinking.

As I said it’s funny but also mainly sad when you reflect on the quality of education and the indoctrination being done to our young skulls full of mush. And is it any wonder why we continue to push kids towards a college education even when, in  many cases, it really isn’t necessary to most people’s careers? College is less and less about providing a well-rounded educational experience and more about teaching young adults to think “the right way.” If you were a left wing power broker, wouldn’t you want as many people as possible to be placed in these indoctrination centers?

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10 Responses to Report: Bowdoin College Intolerant of Opposing Viewpoints. Rebuttal: Of Course We Tolerate Diversity, You Ignorant Bigot.

  • “A political imbalance [among faculty] was no more significant than having an imbalance between Red Sox and Yankee fans,” sniffed Henry C.W. Laurence, a Bowdoin professor of government, in 2004. He added that the suggestion that liberal professors cannot fairly reflect conservative views in classroom discussions is “intellectually bankrupt, professionally insulting and, fortunately, wildly inaccurate.”

    Well I guess that solves the problem of there being more intellectual diversity in the old Soviet politburo than on most college campuses today. I assume the professor is correct. After all, it isn’t as if college campuses were imposing speech code to attack politically incorrect speech, or that conservative speakers were routinely howled down at these citadels of free speech and open inquiry.

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  • College hiring committees will fall over themselves to recruit faculty
    representing every sort of sexual and ethnic minority one could name.
    Presumably this is because it’s felt that a white, liberal male professor
    cannot fairly reflect minority views in classroom discussions. No one
    in academia bats an eye at that assumption, no one dismisses it as
    “intellectually bankrupt, professionally insulting, and, fortunately, wildly
    inaccurate”.

    Those same liberal academics who so willingly admit they cannot
    do complete justice to minority perspectives in the classroom are yet
    so insulted at the idea that they might not be doing complete justice to
    the perspectives of that conservative minority still tolerated on campus.
    It looks like identity politics do not apply if you have the wrong politics.

  • General Chamberlain would be proud.

    Bowdoin administrators must be devastated. They need to recruit some other 1960’s terrorist. NYU snapped up Kathy Boudin: Weather Underground murderer.

    All left-wing, commie brainwashing all the time. Teach them what to think, not how to think.

    Brain bleach sold here!

  • I think that inclusion and not diversity is the operative word for business in this century. Bowdoin is a last century, guilt ridden college that feasts on disparaging the USA which is a an unfortunate byproduct of the 60s mentality. It is a self loathing and worthless institution that has little relevance to the needs of today. Frankly, the east coast is losing population, the richest, to the south and west and Bowdoin will become a shuttered relic to the past similar to what happened in the old south.

  • lol@”queer gardens”

  • I never cease to be amazed that parents are willing to pay tuition for their children to attend these institutions or, for the less fortunate, that students are willing to become indebted to attend these institutions.

    St. Augustine onced observed in his dialogue, On The Teacher: “What parent would be so absurdly curious as to pay tuition for a teacher to tell the student what the teacher thinks?”

  • College is less and less about providing a well-rounded educational experience and more about teaching young adults to think “the right way.”

    Well, yes. But if employers keep requiring college degrees for jobs that don’t really need them, then people will keep enrolling. I’d wager that for the majority of students, college is simply a means to the end of obtaining gainful employment. Sure, 90% of the stuff they cram down you will be irrelevant to your job, outside of technical degrees and courses. For these required fluff courses, you memorize the shluck, spit it back on the test, and then forget it.

  • Think “the right way”

    Calling it thinking is a bit generous. Parrotting is more accurate.

  • I think they are being indoctrinated with what to think not being taught how to think: to weigh the evidence and come to the truth.

Reading, Writing and Reproduction

Tuesday, March 5, AD 2013

Chicago has an appallingly bad public school system.  Only 21% of eighth graders are proficient in reading. 40% of all students drop out.  Small wonder that 39% of the public school teachers in Chicago with children send their kids to private schools.  One would think that any sane administration of such a dysfunctional school system would have more than enough to do fixing it, without taking on new tasks.  People who believe this obviously have never been to Chicago.  As Matt Archbold at Creative Minority Report advises us, the Chicago Way is to dream up new boondoggles if you are failing at the task that the public is paying you to perform:

In real life if a man tries to talk about sex to a kindergartner he’d be removing a father’s knuckles from his teeth. But when school’s do it with your money, parents drop their kids off with smiles.
Please please vote in your local elections and make sure you’re aware of what your schools are teaching children in your town. Chicago is now actively destroying children’s innocence with taxpayer money:
ABC News reports:

While most U.S. public schools start sex education in the fifth grade, sex education will be coming to Chicago kindergartners within two years as part of an overhaul of the Chicago public schools sexual health program.
The new policy, which the Chicago Board of Education passed Wednesday, mandates that a set amount of time be spent on sex education in every grade, beginning in kindergarten.  Chicago has the third-largest public school system in the country, with 431,000 students.
“It is important that we provide students of all ages with accurate and appropriate information so they can make healthy choices in regards to their social interactions, behaviors and relationships,” Barbara Byrd-Bennett, the CEO of the Chicago Public School System, said in a statement. “By implementing a new sexual health education policy, we will be helping them to build a foundation of knowledge that can guide them not just in the preadolescent and adolescent years, but throughout their lives.”
Under the new policy, the youngest students – the kindergartners — will learn the basics about anatomy, reproduction, healthy relationships and personal safety. Through the third grade, the sex-ed lessons will  focus on the family, feelings and appropriate and inappropriate touching. In the fourth grade, students will start learning about puberty, and HIV.

This is just nuts. And by nuts I mean it makes perfect sense. When you’re attempting to indoctrinate a population, it’s best to start young.

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6 Responses to Reading, Writing and Reproduction

  • This is just so infuriating. I don’t have children but if I did, I’d be seriously looking at homeschooling. This is just one more outrage in a long string of them in the public school systems, let alone the supposedly Catholic ones. Lord help us.

  • The time is overdue for a separation of School and State.

  • I dunno. If the little darlings learn that “stuff” as poorly as reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic . . .

  • Now, because the law has forsaken five or six years olds born into this country along with ~55,000,000 not born (counting just the past forty years), there are more souls of children to remember in prayer – living and dead. Without God, man is unbalanced.

  • The first thing the minor children will be taught is that government is God and that all of their unalienable rights come from government and that government trumps parental authority. The video said that parents are free to opt out, but the rights government gives the government can take away. Thomas Jefferson.

    Taxpayers have a right to attend the class of their children through parental rights and cannot be turned out by administration bullying.(as I was, once) Parents have a right to question what is being taught in their schools to their children. Lawsuits have a particularly strong influence on the administration. Isn’t this how atheists, homosexual pracitioners and militant abortionists get their way? The school does not have authority to sequester, a nice word, kidnap is better, your child. Child sexual abuse has many facets. Show and tell in a kindergarten sexual information class is at the discretion of the teacher.

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History is Boring!

Thursday, January 24, AD 2013

No, History is not boring, but it certainly is usually taught in a boring fashion.  The main culprits:

1. Badly Written TextbooksUsually drafted by committees of fairly untalented hacks, they frequently make the reading of technical manuals seem exciting by comparison.

2.  Politicized Drek-Textbooks often have a strong ideological slant.  These days that slant is usually, although not always, driven from the Left.  Therefore students are likely to read quite a bit on the treatment of women in colonial America, with the military history of the American Revolution left to a scant two pages.  This distorts History and usually drains the life out of it, as the study of the past becomes yet another opportunity to deliver a twenty-first century political diatribe.

3.  Ignorant Teachers-Too often History is taught by teachers who have little knowledge of it and no passion for it.  When I was in high school back in the early Seventies, coaches often were  assigned to teach History, under the assumption that anyone could teach it.  There were exceptions, and I still have fond memories of Mr. Geisler who taught American history and Mr. Vanlandingham who taught European history, but the usual level of the teaching of History was quite low.

4.  Laundry Lists-States often mandate inclusion of certain subjects in History.  This results in a laundry list approach of teaching History in which so many topics must be covered that short shrift is given to understanding a period as a whole.

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11 Responses to History is Boring!

  • Great analysis. I find the second item particularly obnoxious. As an anectdote- I was reading Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea: Why The Greeks Matter, and the author’s treatment of Aristotle comprised less than a page and a half, whereas Plato’s Symposium received nearly an entire chapter (ironically entitled ‘How To Think’.) The reason? Aristotle’s metaphysics led to the Catholic Church’s sexual ethics, which modern people are way too smart to find reasonable. (paraphrase)

    So let’s ignore the massive influence Aristotle had on western civilization (that is, why the Greeks matter!) and focus on eroticism, since that is the bequest of the classical Greeks. (*removes tongue from cheek)

    On the other hand, Victor Davis Hanson’s books on Greek internecine warfare focus on only one particular aspect of the classical Greeks yet manage to actually give a reason why the Greeks matter, which Cahill never really gets around to, at least from what I remember. Once he waved off Aristotle I realized I could safely tune out.

  • The English actor James Purefoy, in promoting “Ironclad,” his medieval warfare film, said “It should be a crime to be a boring history teacher!”

    And yet, we’ve managed to do precisely that–make history a dull slog.

    Which leads to the present, a sad generation of people cut off from their pasts, living entirely in a present, at once ignorant, ungrateful and frivolous.

  • My history experience was a little different. We moved a lot when I was young. I must have had “US: Founding to Radial Reconstruction” four times, never anything past that for the US except as part of WWII. I knew the Greeks but never met the Romans. My only exposure to Europe between the Hellenic period and WWII was from a well-meaning sister who railed against the Philosophes – and yes, they deserved it, but a little context would have been nice. I don’t think I ever had history outside Europe and the US except for a smattering in Spanish class, but I suspect that’s pretty common in the US.

    As to this article: Point #7 cannot be overstated. I remember reading a quote to the effect that the US wasn’t settled by those we call the settlers, but by merchants, soldiers, and missionaries. That’s always stuck with me because we’ve eliminated the motives of the real historical people from history: profit, conquest, and faith. Money sometimes makes its way into history classes, at least in my era (HS Class of 1982), through Marx-influenced analysis. Nationalism and religion, though, were forbidden topics. I’d bet that these days you could present nationalism, but it’d be as distorted through political correctness as the profit motive was distorted in the textbooks I was exposed to.

  • Jason’s remarks about Aristotle raises a very interesting point.

    For us, of course, Aristotle was one of the giants of philosophy, but his work was unknown in the West until the 11th century, mediated through Arab translators. The only dialogue of Plato known in the West was the Symposium. It was the Stoics and the Epicurians that dominated late Antiquity, until the rise of Neo-Platonism with Plotinus in the third century.

    Again, that he was one of the best observational biologists of Antiquity was not recognized until the 16th century at least.

    The same paradox applies to Copernicus, Kepler and Galileo. To us, they are the great figures of their age, but, outside a tiny circle of savants, they were unknown to their contemporaries. Newton was the first scientist who was a major public figure in his own day. Likewise, In the middle of the 19th century, the work of Bolyai and Lobachevsky was largely unknown, even to well-educated people. Non-Euclidean geometry entered the public consciousness with Einstein.

  • Thanks, Donald. I think much needs to be said about both the importance of history and the need to teach it well so that it appeals to people as enlightening and useful. But I see another problem. I think many people would like to keep history at a distance–people who are radically progressive–since history tends to reign us in a bit. History would guide us more rationally into the future, whereas ideologues would have us answer their call to leap into the dark. The places they wish to go would lack any real continuity with the past, and I think that’s why radical politicians tend to reject authentic history.

  • Don

    In the Seventy’s our world history survey professor read some of the better answers from the mid-term

    Q Who was Jesus Christ?
    A He lived about 0 AD and became a Christian because he liked the religion.

    And this was a Catholic university.

    ————-

    A few years ago I was helping friend with her grandson’s reading. So i used the social studies book, they were doing the middle ages..

    It had high quality paper and ink, beautiful illustrations, arts and craft projects, and an age appropriate text that leaves the reader completely uninformed about the middle ages.

    So what if they can’t read there is nothing worth reading in that book.

    History is fun! Middle Ages Histroy is fun, You have to work to mess it up.

    (I got out “Just so Stories” and had him rap “How the Camel got his Hump” In fifteen minutes he was doing a lot better.)

    Hank’s Eclectic Meanderings

  • “History is fun! Middle Ages Histroy is fun, You have to work to mess it up.”

    Quite right Hank. I have always enjoyed this scene from the movie Ruggles of Red Cap because it shows how a British butler who has become intrigued by Abraham Lincoln by reading a book about him, reminds Americans of their history:

  • “Which leads to the present, a sad generation of people cut off from their pasts, living entirely in a present, at once ignorant, ungrateful and frivolous.”

    Which makes it incumbent upon us who know the history Dale to teach it in any way we can. One of the reasons why I stress history so much in my posts.

  • “As an anectdote- I was reading Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea: Why The Greeks Matter, and the author’s treatment of Aristotle comprised less than a page and a half, whereas Plato’s Symposium received nearly an entire chapter (ironically entitled ‘How To Think’.) The reason? Aristotle’s metaphysics led to the Catholic Church’s sexual ethics, which modern people are way too smart to find reasonable. (paraphrase)”

    Cahill is a rotten historian and an uber liberal former Catholic, current Catholic basher:

    “John Paul II has been almost the polar opposite of John XXIII, who dragged Catholicism to confront 20th-century realities after the regressive policies of Pius IX, who imposed the peculiar doctrine of papal infallibility on the First Vatican Council in 1870, and after the reign of terror inflicted by Pius X on Catholic theologians in the opening decades of the 20th century. Unfortunately, this pope was much closer to the traditions of Pius IX and Pius X than to his namesakes. Instead of mitigating the absurdities of Vatican I’s novel declaration of papal infallibility, a declaration that stemmed almost wholly from Pius IX’s paranoia about the evils ranged against him in the modern world, John Paul II tried to further it. In seeking to impose conformity of thought, he summoned prominent theologians like Hans Kung, Edward Schillebeeckx and Leonardo Boff to star chamber inquiries and had his grand inquisitor, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, issue condemnations of their work.

    But John Paul II’s most lasting legacy to Catholicism will come from the episcopal appointments he made. In order to have been named a bishop, a priest must have been seen to be absolutely opposed to masturbation, premarital sex, birth control (including condoms used to prevent the spread of AIDS), abortion, divorce, homosexual relations, married priests, female priests and any hint of Marxism. It is nearly impossible to find men who subscribe wholeheartedly to this entire catalogue of certitudes; as a result the ranks of the episcopate are filled with mindless sycophants and intellectual incompetents. The good priests have been passed over; and not a few, in their growing frustration as the pontificate of John Paul II stretched on, left the priesthood to seek fulfillment elsewhere.”

    Victor Davis Hanson is my favorite living historian and I treasure each of his books.

  • Every nation, government, and civilization on the scrap heaps of history made the same fatal rejection of God. Our Founders had a better idea by accepting and trusting the God of Abraham, and while our nation trusted, ir prospered with liberty and religious freedom. To preserve this should be the history now taught in every classroom in America. Our repressive government has rejected the Declaration of Independence and declared war on children and the family. God’s moral laws are being officially flaunted, and history is about to relegate our nation to the scrap heaps as well. American patriots had better hone their revolutionary instincts to again defend our intended republic. The future of America may soon rest be in their hands. Especially now if only the criminals have assault weapons and over 10 round magazines.

  • Here is a little anecdote of how history is taught in our schools.

    One morning, I was working in the stables with two schoolgirls, (aged 16/17) who come to ride my horses and help out. They were studying the “Age of Revolutions,” for their History special subject and somehow we got onto the topic of Napoléon III.

    Yes, they knew all about Bonapartism & Napoléon III: “Stalemate in the class struggle” – “Bourgeoisie surrenders political power, in return for protection of its economic power” – “Bourgeois ‘freedom’ is the freedom to exploit the labour of others for profit” – “The independent Executive – Its instruments the déclassé Bohemians of all classes” – “Professional army made up of the Lumpen proletariat” &c, &c

    It was like listening to children saying their catechism.

    “And who were their opponents?” I asked

    “The proletariat, in alliance with the revolutionary intelligentsia,” they replied, in chorus.

    “And the peasants?”

    “They had no community, no national bond and no political organization,” they intoned, as one.

    For their teachers, there is nothing to the right of the Socialist parties, except greed and eccentricity.

    This is Scotland, after all.

A Heresy in Education (or An Education in Heresy)

Thursday, January 17, AD 2013
“In this world nothing is certain but death and taxes.” Eloquent though he may be, Benjamin Franklin would have done well to add “heresy” to his infamous pair of unavoidable realities.

Philosophical preconceptions once condemned by the Church have an odd way of rearing their ugly heads. Take Manichaeanism for example. Battled by the great St. Augustine of Hippo, the Manichaean school taught the profound separation of soul and body, a dualism that has been condemned by the Church more than once throughout the centuries. With two equally powerful deities, one good and the other evil, the human person of this heresy becomes the battleground for their contest of power, with the body being the domain of evil and the soul being the domain of the good. The Christian faith, of course, has taught the contrary, the inseparable union of body and soul, both good because of their creation by the one God who is pure goodness.

I was a high school teacher of mathematics and computer science for nine years, and Manichaeanism is only one of the many heresies I see deeply imbedded in modernity, particularly amongst adolescents. In the years I spent in the classroom, the cases of academic dishonesty had noticeably gone up. What is perhaps more noticeable, however, was the change in students’ reactions when the dishonesty is exposed. There was a time when the remorse was authentic, but more recently, when present at all, it seemed more like mere regret over being caught.

I found myself repeatedly in conversations about how students view the act of cheating. A colleague of mine once remarked, “I honestly do not think that the students see it as wrong.” On the contrary, the students’ actions do not reflect any moral confusion. After all, students will go to great lengths to see to it that they are not caught, and when they are, they will craft the most elaborate of stories to exonerate themselves. I once had a student who plagiarized a computer program off of a university professor’s web site. When confronted about it, he claimed, with a great deal of confidence and conviction, that he would like to meet the professor who stole his code to post on the university web site. While the creativity is remarkable, the same cannot be said for character.

What, then, is at the root of the issue? While teachers generally recognize this as a growing and problematic trend in the education environment, they are often at a loss to explain the trend, and therefore end up remarking, “I honestly do not think that the students see it as wrong.” The truth is that students do understand the difference between right and wrong, and they do understand that cheating is a morally impermissible action. The problem is not in their ethics; the problem is in their anthropology. Students are Manichaeans.

The heart of the matter is that adolescence often do not understand the profound connection between body and soul that the Christian faith has always taught. Quite the opposite, students have a tremendous ability to keep a rift between body and soul. Said differently, these adolescents do not see a connection between their actions and their personal character. While they know and understand that certain actions are morally unacceptable, they do not see these actions as reflective of their person. They sincerely believe that they are good people and that this goodness cannot be tarnished by any action.

What adolescents fail to understand is that the human person is not only the source of his actions, but is also a product of his actions. What we do is reflective of who we are, and who we are will influence what we do. Philosophically, we would say that the human person isconstituted by his actions. There is no rift between the actions of our body and mind and the state of our soul. Body and soul are mutually interpenetrating. This is the essence of the Catholic teaching on mortal sins. Because there is an indestructible link between the body and the soul, there are certain actions that can affect the very state of the soul, remove it from the state of God’s grace.

We are how we act. A thief is nothing more than one who steals, and a lair is nothing more than one who lies. Similarly, a cheater is a person who cheats, and it is impossible to cheat without at the same time becoming a cheater. The student, however, does not see himself as a “cheater”; instead, he sees himself as a “good person” who happened to cheat, but the action of cheating is not reflective of his character. How is it that they are able to maintain this disconnect? It is simple: they are Manichaean. How is it that they are Manichaean? That is also simple: modernity is Manichaean, and this is perhaps the greatest heresy of our time. It is a heresy that is not only at the heart of academic dishonesty in the schools, but also constitutive of the greed and avarice in the market place, the sexual permissiveness in the media, and the utter disregard for the sanctity of life in the abortion industry.

Being a heresy, however, I have a feeling that it, like death and taxes, is inevitable. This does not mean we give up an authentic education in the virtues. It does not mean that we neglect to expose the lies for what they are. But it does mean that, while the battle has already been won on the Cross, the enemy of heresy is as certain in this world as death and taxes. Perhaps, though, heresy has more in common with death and taxes than its inevitability. “In this world” certain the trio may be; yet in the next it is certain that all three will be abolished.

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9 Responses to A Heresy in Education (or An Education in Heresy)

  • The world is very rapidly going to hell as we write. I hope we can turn the tide in time.

  • Huh. I’m not sure I agree with this analysis, but it is provocative.

    I remember reading C.S. Lewis talking about ethics, how the proof of the moral law written on our souls is that when we’re caught doing something wrong, we try to make up an excuse or an exception. I think he used the example of someone not giving his seat on a bus to an old woman. When caught, they try to justify their action. The thing I’ve noticed lately is that we’re not bothering to do that as much. It does seem like we’ve successfully drowned out the conscience.

  • Jake-
    “modernity is Manichaean.”
    Good point.
    I’m reminded of Jesus carrying the Cross and His discourse to the weeping women; “Don’t weep for me, but for your children.”
    Thanks for the view, even though it’s gloomy.
    Prayer to the destroyer of all heresies is greatly needed…Our Lady and her Holy Rosary.

  • Pingback: THURSDAY GOD & CAESAR EXTRA | Big Pulpit
  • Teaching in Catholic schools for 12 years now (5th, 7-10th grades) and I’ve heard much of the same excuses by students and, unfortunately, parents. What really astonishes me are principals who are intent on blaming teacher! Somehow we “failed to teach it was wrong” or “maybe they didn’t understand it was wrong.” Not taking action or attempting to sweep it under the rug is exactly the wrong thing to do.
    And yes, there are the students who act like they don’t know what they’ve done wrong – and there are parents who do it, as well – which really drives you crazy.

  • Then there is the ever-present example of teachers who hold students responsible for material that they do not teach in their lessons. In many cases, students merely attempt to figure out how they will be judged before taking the test or turning in the assignment, and teachers refuse to divulge the points on which students will be judged. Students caught with material that divulges this information are often accused of “cheating.” However, when teachers refuse to offer the information in the ordinary course of lessons, it is the teachers who lie. The teachers who cheat. The teachers who are Manichean. Of course there are authentic examples of Manichean students. But many such examples merely reflect the honest attempt of students to figure out the dishonest motives of their teachers.

  • For students who need tutorials and wish to take personal responsibility for their progress, I recommend kahnacademy.org. For teachers who would like to be freed up to teach, rather than continuously tutoring rote subject material, this is also an invaluable resource. Students become responsible for their own learning, parents ‘and teachers can also track students’ progress using this program to keep abreast of where students may be falling behind and intervene in a timely manner. This program is used worldwide and is available free of charge. It covers core subject material for K -12 including college prep math, sciences, history, arts and computer sciences and SAT Prep. Includes tutorials and self assessment tools which again place the responsibility for learning squarely on the shoulders of the student. Any student can register at this site with or without parental involvement. It is completely confidential and is self paced. Courtesy of the Gates Foundation. Check it out.

  • I am far beyond an age of adolescence and have no idea of a connection between body and soul; between body and mind I do most of the time.

  • The student, however, does not see himself as a “cheater”; instead, he sees himself as a “good person” who happened to cheat, but the action of cheating is not reflective of his character. How is it that they are able to maintain this disconnect?

    Whether or not he’s a ‘good person’, you might just keep your eye on his acts and habits and refrain from characterizing his essence.

Rush Limbaugh vs. The Classics

Monday, November 7, AD 2011

Kyle is filled with righteous indignation against Rush Limbaugh.

In case you had any lingering doubt that Rush Limbaugh makes a good charlatan’s living espousing half-baked pseudo-ideology slyly disguised as principled conservative philosophy, the winning radio host informs us that he doesn’t know what Classical Studies is, but he’s sure it’s a clever socialist plot. His faux-ignorant blather about the uselessness and insidiousness of studying Greek, Latin, Cicero, Plato, Aristotle, Homer, Virgil, the Bible—you know, the bulwarks of Western Civilization that any conservative worth his salt should have an interest in conserving—reveals that he has no regard for the origin and history of our ideas, for the development of the intellect, or for conservatism.

The source of the indignation is a rant which Rush apparently delivered on the air a week ago. Said rant was in response to this “We Are the 99%” plea which was posted in support of the Occupy Wall Street movement:

I graduate college in 7 months with a “useless” degree in Classical Studies. I have worked very hard and am on track to graduate with highest Latin honors. I am in a Greek organization with many volunteer hours under my belt.
MY JOB PROSPECTS?
0
I am one of the lucky ones, but I am still the 99%.
Welcome to the American nightmare.

Rush responded to this plea, in part, as follows:

[reads the above quoted “We Are The 99%” piece]

Now, do you think somebody going to college, borrowing whatever it is in this case, $20,000 a year to get a degree in Classical Studies ought to be told by somebody at a school that it’s a worthless degree? … [W]hy is it that no one in her life told her that getting a degree in Classical Studies would not lead to employment? In fact, how many college students do you think believe that just getting a degree equals a high-paying job? Probably a lot of them. Not that you can blame ’em. That’s what they’ve been sold on. That’s what they’ve been told. Ergo, that’s what they expect. A college degree equals success, riches, whatever. Not work. This is key, now.

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37 Responses to Rush Limbaugh vs. The Classics

  • “many people enjoy listening to him spout off, feel a certain agreement, but don’t really take him all that seriously or expect him to present a fully coherent philosophy”

    You give his listeners too much credit. I’ve met quite a few people who take Rush very seriously.

    I do agree with Rush that colleges deceive prospective students and it’s gotta stop. It’s so reminiscent of the housing bubble. Lots of people taking on loans they won’t be able to repay with the government encouraging the practice.

  • I first read Thucydides in the seventh grade, and I have read all of the Greek and Roman historians since then, most of them several times. I believe they have helped me through life by giving me greater insight into human character. However, if I wanted to make a living through my study of these historians I would quickly be on food stamps, and my family along with me. There is a distinction between studying something because it is intellectually fascinating, and engaging in a course of study to enhance someone’s value in the marketplace. This is a lesson that students need to learn rapidly as undergraduates. As an undergrad I obtained a teaching degree in social studies so I would have something to fall back on if I decided that the law was not for me. Just because you can’t make a living on it doesn’t mean that a subject area is not worthy of study, but only a fool does not realize that at the end of the educational process he has to find a job. Socrates engaged in philosophy and was a stone mason after all, although I doubt if Xanthippe thought he struck the correct balance between the two. (No money again today? You wasted it yacking with those worthless scamps Alcibiades, Xenophon and Plato didn’t you ? Why I married you is beyond me. Mother was right, you are a worthless layabout!)

  • I suppose in a sense Socrates was very like a blogger…

    But yes. This idea that if you just get a college degree (in virtually any subject) you will automatically be given a “good job” without a whole lot of effort is so patently absurd I don’t understand how it got started. Heck, even the guys I knew who took eminently practical degrees like Computer Science had to search around a bit to find jobs.

    Is this the result of the “promote whether you pass or not” approach to education in this country, writ large?

  • I think you’re talking past each other, given that your solution is much what I seem to remember him proposing recently….

    I have no doubt that Rush knows that “classics” generally means “Greek and Roman.” (I’m just an ignorant kid whose highest, finalized, official schooling is high school, and I caught on to that…though my listening as an adult is MUCH later than yours, starting about 2006; I graduated in ’01 with the delightful luck of an English teacher who adored the classics enough to inflict them on his students.)

    What he’s commenting on is something I’ve observed, that folks think graduating with a degree in X means that they deserve a job in X. I see places around myself, and my folks, that are begging for folks to work– but no-one will, because it’s not their field. (example convicts picking apples at better than $20 an hour, yet the areas near them are still highly unemployed, though the convicts are no less skilled at apple picking than an English major.)

    FWIW, I don’t listen to Rush much. He repeats too much for my taste, and with the blogosphere I get news before he does most times. I also, to cut off accusations, don’t even have cable– let alone Fox News. His kabuki style annoyed me even when I did listen to him at least once a month, but I’m easily annoyed.

    Lest you take offense, I’ve been doing this for years– back in 2000, the recruiters thought that I was an anti-military nut because I pointed out that every restaurant I’d seen in our nearest community college town had a “help wanted” sign. I’m sorry, but I have no sense when it comes to delicately pointing out facts at variance with the POINT, even when I can see your point is “having a degree that makes your life better but not more profitable isn’t a bad thing.”

    Irony: I qualify the “as an adult” listener to Rush because my dad listened to him when I was little. My dad is a farmhand and ranch manager who has an AA with a focus on music appreciation. He proves your point… and, I think, is a living embodiment of Rush’s.

  • On a random note: I seem to recall Rush having Classics Professor Victor Davis Hanson on as a special guest ten years back. At the time, the only Hanson I’d read was Fields Without Dreams and The Western Way of War so I was surprised to have someone I’d only run into as an academic author show up on there. I believe it was right after Hanson had written a book about the need to teach the Great Books.

  • Well, the hard truth is that Rush is right, and I say that as someone with a Ph.D in the humanities. To paraphrase what a friend once told me, they ain’t opening political science factories anytime soon. But like Darwin, I wouldn’t have chosen any other path.

    College has become a racket – a big money racket. We are telling our kids that they all have to got to college, regardless of need or merit. Then, when they get there, they are offered no guidance whatsoever.

    And Dreher – ugh. He is the embodiment of the faux intellectual. He’s the guy who grabs a Kirk quote out of some book he once read and thinks he has made a profound point. It’s great to have Dreher lecturing us on the attributes of a real conservative. I guess I missed the part of “true conservatism” where we’re supposed to change our religious affiliation every time we get mildly annoyed by something. I guess that was in the part of Reflections on the Revolution in France that nobody reads.

  • Paul-
    you have a point; Mr. “if you were REALLY conservative, you’d ignore your points the way I’m ignoring them and do what I want” is a topic I missed. “Fostering appreciation of the classics”– let alone to the point where graduating with a degree in them is a good choice from a career perspective– is WAY down my list as a conservative, below “basic biological understanding of the start of life” and “respect of basic human rights, such as to life, property and association.”

  • That’s more than the cart before the horse, it’s putting the elegant coach-and-four ahead of making sure folks know how to identify a cart horse….

  • “I suppose in a sense Socrates was very like a blogger…”

    True, fortunately most of us have spouses with tongues far less sharp than Xanthippe’s!

    “On a random note: I seem to recall Rush having Classics Professor Victor Davis Hanson on as a special guest ten years back.”

    My favorite living historian as well as a writer of grace and elegance. Here is a link to his books, all of which I recommend:
    http://www.amazon.com/Victor-Davis-Hanson/e/B000APGQDU

    For those interested in understanding the sad state of the Classics in most of academia today, Hanson’s, along with his co-authors’, Who Killed Homer and Bonfire of the Humanities are indispensable.

    http://www.amazon.com/Bonfire-Humanities-Rescuing-Classics-Impoverished/dp/1882926544/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_5

    http://www.amazon.com/Who-Killed-Homer-Classical-Education/dp/1893554260

  • “I guess that was in the part of Reflections on the Revolution in France that nobody reads.”

    🙂

  • “Irony: I qualify the “as an adult” listener to Rush because my dad listened to him when I was little. My dad is a farmhand and ranch manager who has an AA with a focus on music appreciation. He proves your point… and, I think, is a living embodiment of Rush’s.”

    My wife and I have enjoyed Rush since he came on in 1988 Foxfier, and all 3 of our kids have been exposed to him all of their lives.

  • Victor Davis Hanson deals with a question from a charter member of Tin Foil Hats R Us:

  • I don’t listen to Rush very often these days, because his “shtick” gets on my nerves after about 5 or 10 minutes. However, I did read a couple of the books he wrote in the early 90s, “The Way Things Ought to Be” and “See, I Told You So” and I liked them both. The first book, especially, is an excellent introduction to his basic thought.

    One of Rush’s favorite shticks is “demonstrating absurdity by being absurd” so one cannot assume that he is always being totally serious. In reading his allegedly anti-classical education rant above I suspect he is being heavily sarcastic at various points.

    I don’t think Rush is saying that “the classics” — meaning, the seminal literary, historic and artistic works of Western civilization going back to ancient Greece and Rome — are not worth studying. If anything they are a great way to clear the mush out of young skulls full of mush. But it all depends on how you define classical studies, and how they are taught. What if they are taught by leftist professors who despise Dead White European Males and are determined to show how racist, sexist, bigoted, etc. they are? Then your education really would be worthless.

    Also, does one really have to spend thousands of dollars on a college education to study the classics? Why not just go to the library and read them for free, or pick up some cheap copies at a secondhand bookstore? Lots of homeschoolers do just that.

    What Rush is saying, in my judgment, is simply that one is not owed or guaranteed a job simply by virtue of completing a college degree, particularly a college degree in a subject that is not directly related to vocational or professional development. If you choose to study a non-vocational or liberal arts field, you do so at your own risk, and may have to be more creative in selling yourself to prospective employers. You can’t just sit back and expect job offers to fall in your lap.

  • Agreed Elaine, on all counts except that I still listen to Rush most days. I re-read See I Told You So in grad school for a paper and found it surprisingly insightful and with more depth than I had initially remembered. It was certainly as serious an investigation of conservative principles as something like, say, Crunchy Cons.

  • That is one of the few times I have ever seen Kyle Cupp be anything but twee and evasive in print. Do you think the moderator of Journeys in Alterity might have a personal interest there?

    And Dreher – ugh. He is the embodiment of the faux intellectual. He’s the guy who grabs a Kirk quote out of some book he once read and thinks he has made a profound point. It’s great to have Dreher lecturing us on the attributes of a real conservative. I guess I missed the part of “true conservatism” where we’re supposed to change our religious affiliation every time we get mildly annoyed by something.

    That is unfair to Dreher, who had a series of severe objections, not mild annoyances. He did not process what he was reading intelligently, but what he was reading was mighty disagreeable.

    Dreher is one of the better examples of Thomas Sowell’s observation that articulate people are not necessarily intelligent people. The American Conservative‘s readers and editors will receive a daily report of his emotional upsets, which will be the price they pay for what they really want. Dreher has a long history of affiliation, disaffiliation, and accusation. If you are a bunch of sectaries, reading an distrubed middle-aged man issue indictments against the other sects is a sort of catnip.

  • That is one of the few times I have ever seen Kyle Cupp be anything but twee and evasive in print. Do you think the moderator of Journeys in Alterity might have a personal interest there?

    Kyle was a year behind me at Steubenville, so I can assure you that his degree was in English Lit, not Classics. 🙂 Though in a sense, the same difficulties apply. It did strike me as a rather extreme outburst for Kyle, though, underlined by the fact that his summary of Limbaugh’s rant is about as hyperbolically inaccurate in describing what Limbaugh actually says as anything in Limbaugh’s rant itself is in relation to Classics.

    Dreher is one of the better examples of Thomas Sowell’s observation that articulate people are not necessarily intelligent people.

    Ain’t that the truth!

  • I rather think this comment is largely sadly correct regarding Classics in most of academia:

    “Well, you know, it’s obvious as I look into this Classical Studies business it is obvious at one time it was something of great esteme, something of tremendous import and value. I have to think like everything else in higher education today that it’s been dumbed down. In fact, about Victor Davis Hanson, he actually created the classics program at California State University Fresno in 1984, and he was a professor there until recently. He created it because of the deterioration in the whole field because of how it’s lost whatever specialness that it once had. But I think there’s all kinds of theories to explain what’s going on in higher education. For example, it’s not new that college graduates don’t know anything. That’s not really that new.

    Now, I think it is relatively new, two generations, that worthless degrees are being constructed and taught and awarded. But generally what’s happened is that American employers have taken these ill-educated graduates and they’ve turned ’em into productive employees after a lot of investment. But in this economy, in the Obama economy, employers don’t have the money, they don’t have the wherewithal, and they don’t have the confidence or the money or the time or the patience to go out and hire uneducated people and turn ’em into something. Because they can’t get a handle on what faces them next year with Obamacare, what other regulations might be awaiting them.

    So this woman, or person, whoever it is, I’m assuming it’s a woman that wrote this note, Occupy Wall Street, lamenting the fact she’s gonna have zero job opportunities with her Classical Studies degree, the villain is Obama. There will be a time where the economy will be able to absorb these people again, but it’s down the road a bit. ‘Cause after you get a degree in Classical Studies, what do you need? You need Reality Studies. And Reality Studies is what you get when you get out of college and you start going to work and you learn what you don’t know. And if you don’t have the ability to admit that you don’t know anything, then Reality Studies is gonna be a cold slap upside the head, and it isn’t gonna be pleasant.”

    http://www.rushlimbaugh.com/daily/2011/11/01/deciphering_the_sad_sack_story_of_a_classical_studies_scholar

  • Indeed. (Confession: I hadn’t read past the first commercial break.)

    Though I will say, in defense of my old field, that Classics has held up far better than other fields (history, literature, etc.) against the silliness which has come to pervade the Humanities. I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that it’s necessarily grounded in actually learning Greek and Latin and actually reading ancient texts. People sometimes try to get into all sorts of trendy analysis after that, but the fact that everything has to start with the language and the texts is a big help in keeping it sober and rigorous.

  • Well said Elaine. Apparently Kyle missed the class on sarcasm during his classical studies period. Rush was indeed “demonstrating absurdity by being absurd”. Just because you have a degree does not entitle you to a handout. You have only secured a piece of paper (degree). Get out there and work hard to accomplish whatever particular goals you set for yourself. if you wish to obtain material things on this earth then you must do so yourself and not depend upon the government or anyone else to hand you anything. If you have no interest in material things then fine. Be at peace with that. But, don’t run to the feeding trough looking for a free ride during your time on this earth. Don’t choose to be a sloth and expect to be rewarded for it. Feel free to choose whatever degree you wish but be prepared for the realities of the job market. Free enterprise and capitalism will dictate the the current job market- as they should.

  • THis was painful. First First things had comments on a post on tenure in which people were bashing medieval studies, and now classics (classics was my undergrad degree, medieval my grad). People need to be told that most of these humanities degrees directly translate into jobs in their own areas (ie. a classics job) only in academia and they require graduate degrees. I would tell students to minor/double major in classics if they are doing it mainly for self improvement/interest.

  • I studied the Classics, having translated Cicero’s Orations Against Cataline and Virgil’s Aenid in Latin class long ago. I’ve read Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations, and a few other ancient writings as well. Yes, I did read some Catullus and Horace, but I kept those poems even in their Latin well away from my mother, God bless her! I even studied Koine Greek (most of which I have since forgotten – the old “don’t use it, then lose it” maxim comes to mind), and had translated St. John’s Gospel. But I never expected to directly make money off any of these things. My Mom and Dad taught me that I had to do good old fashion work. They encouraged my classical studies (except for Horace and Catullus) so that I could think like a man. And they encouraged my entry in the nuclear submarine service so that I could behave like a man. Both are essential to eventually getting a decent job that pays well, and in being a useful and responsible citizen (which I hope I qualify as). I now have to return to that job – “nukes ‘R us” – and use the grammatical and editorial skills I learned pouring over some esoteric text that Aurelius or Cicero wrote to write nuclear procedures that make sense, are simple, and can be followed by the most hopeless of engineers for whom English grammar and writing style was an art in college reserved solely for the artsy-fartsy types. 😉

    PS, I never did go to college. Instead, I went to Naval Nuclear Power School which I am told is much worse – no keg parties, just lots and lots of studying, and then months at a time on a submarine beneath the waves. And I kept up with some of my Classical studies which enabled me to make sense of what happens when I attend Mass in the Extraordinary Form, and to read the Nova Vulgata.

  • From 1962, The Changing of the Guard episode from the Twilight Zone which reminds us of two things:

    1. Sometimes the most impractical parts of our education can be very important for guiding us along in life.

    2. Teaching, when well done, can be a very noble profession indeed.

  • I figured I’d get a response from you, Darwin.

    I can offer no defense of students who foolishly expect that getting a degree in X will mean getting a job in X (or a job, period), and if that was all El Rushbo was saying, I’d have no complaint. Instead, the voice of the EIB network invented this fantasy world in which the Classics are part of a clever plot to make future generations dependent on a socialist state. I’m not so optimistic to believe his avid followers won’t take this fiction for reality.

    I agree with you that Classics and other humanities are worth studying for their own sake, regardless of the field one goes into, but, commercialist though I may be, I also agree with Rod Dreher that our society would be improved if social interest in the Classics were such that more Classics majors could pursue work studying and fostering appreciation for the classics. Really, this seems a prerequisite for the influence of the classics you’d like to see upon people in a variety of fields. You want sales managers and advertising writers and loan officers and customer service representatives to know a thing or two about Homer and Hesiod? You need a lot of scholars who understand the Classics and can teach them effectively.

  • I’d have no complaint. Instead, the voice of the EIB network invented this fantasy world in which the Classics are part of a clever plot to make future generations dependent on a socialist state. I’m not so optimistic to believe his avid followers won’t take this fiction for reality.

    For the sake of precision, what he said in the quoted passages which would indicate he held to this ‘fantasy’ was as follows:

    “Socialism as a remedy. They demand that everybody else take care of them — and, my friends, this is not an accident.”

    It is not immediately clear from this sentence what he considers whose intentions and plans to be. (In any case, if you are on the air for – what? – fifteen hours a week, you are bound to make ill-considered remarks from time to time).

  • I figured I’d get a response from you, Darwin.

    By all the gods, have I become so predictable?

    Instead, the voice of the EIB network invented this fantasy world in which the Classics are part of a clever plot to make future generations dependent on a socialist state. I’m not so optimistic to believe his avid followers won’t take this fiction for reality.

    I’m not at all clear that’s what he was saying — especially now that I’ve read on past the first commercial break. It sounds to me more like a general claim that encouraging people to have unmeetable expectations out of life in regards to job prospects will encourage people to turn to the state to solve their problems. This is, perhaps, a bit conspiracy minded, but given that some have been suggesting in connect with the OWS movement that if people can’t be guaranteed a good job when they graduate college than then “the system” clearly needs to be changed in order to do so, I’m not sure it’s entirely fantastic.

    I also agree with Rod Dreher that our society would be improved if social interest in the Classics were such that more Classics majors could pursue work studying and fostering appreciation for the classics. Really, this seems a prerequisite for the influence of the classics you’d like to see upon people in a variety of fields. You want sales managers and advertising writers and loan officers and customer service representatives to know a thing or two about Homer and Hesiod? You need a lot of scholars who understand the Classics and can teach them effectively.

    I suppose. Perhaps much of it is that I’m not generally sanguine about the prospects of getting people excited about a topic simply by telling them, “You should be excited about this! That would allow people to make a living writing books for you or giving lectures to you!”

    In my own little way, I try to do my part by talking about and writing about Classical culture with those I know. I’m not really sure what, beyond that, Dreher expects people to do. Though Limbaugh does get in a pitch further down for Victor David Hanson’s writing, someone who comes fairly close to being a Classicist crossing over into general popular writing. (Part of the problem, to my mind, with Dreher’s expecation is that greater interest in the Classics might translate to a minutely increased number of figures such as Hanson rather than a vast number of well employed young Classicists.)

  • Reading through these comments, I would wager that many of the OWS fleabaggers and their supporters among the liberal elites would not know Cicero from Plato, must less be able to understand what Cicero was driving at in De Officiis or Paradoxa Stoicorum, or what Plato was driving at in The Republic or The Statesman. And if they did understand, then they wouldn’t agree in most cases. I suppose the same is true of most conservatives. Alas, we have been done educated into imbecility.

  • The only memorable piece of writing that I can recall from Rod Dreher was the time he said in the comments at Amy Welborn’s former blog that he’d like to kick the chancellor of the Diocese of Rockford, IL in the privates.

    Yeah, real high-brow stuff.

  • “What am I going to do with my degree in philosophy? Open a shop and sell concepts?” asked the young lady. The study of the [Greek and Latin] must be done for the intellectual pleasure and value derived from them. In England decades ago, the study was required to get a job in the Foreign Office. They were thought to develope one’s thinking ability; and also one’s writing style, so important for short and coherent dispatches. [Consider Veni, vidi, vici].
    A grevious flaw in the study of the Classics is that these studies have pushed aside the study of Mediaeval Latin and Greek, which among other things is much simpler and clearer than the vagaries of Ciceronian oratory. That Latin was spoken and written for far longer than “classical” Latin. Much fine poetry, much great thought, much scientific theory was written in Latin down to the 18th Century, Samuel Johnson on his visit to Paris conversed in Latin with several French scholars. The Renaissance was Latin speaking phenomenon.

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  • Frankly common sense simply sees that Rush was dealing with the situation of getting jobs….where the jobs are in greater abundance. It’s a discussion of practicality and expense and frankly motivation, using his own experience. You can get a background in the classics without an expensive college formation in such subjects that don’t have a lot of slots out there for their purity alone. My cousin did classic studies as an aside to his medical studies just for personal interest. So I don’t see a reason for such consternation other than one might feel personally upset because he spent time and trouble to follow his own personal interest and wishes to defend it from criticism. But I wouldn’t term practical criticism as “blather” or a need for a personal attack. I would think the wisdom of the “classical” teachings would itself advise against such reponses!

    Yes, it certainly is “possible” to graduate with such subjects being the principal study and “get a job”, but it is also wise to get the practical picture before adding to one’s debt for a happier future. I have to wonder even about certain Catholic long time bloggers, their chosen “fields” for life work, who wish to be considered knowledgeable via “opinions” on a number of subjects, but who consequently must beg for funds to support their families from readers who themselves may be working 2 or 3 jobs, not esp. to their liking, in order to first take care of their main responsibility as fathers and husbands!!

  • Elaine beat me to the punch by a long way.

    If I had been more creative (which is kind of ironic when you’re a performing artist), I probably could have gotten to this point without a college degree. Sure, audition committees probably feel more comfortable with somebody who has an institution’s seal of approval, but is it strictly necessary? Not always. Are there ways around it? Yes, for the determined individual, there are. If you can deliver, consistently, reliably, and at the highest level, you will be hired regardless of any letters by your name. The main advantage of college for me was that it put me in close proximity with a lot of peers in my field for an extended time. The vast majority of the work I’ve gotten has been through those relationships and connections. It was more convenient to have it all packaged like that — and naturally, more expensive.

  • rosie, leaving aside particular examples in the blogosphere or otherwise, you introduce a fair point. There is a reason why we call it “work.” Most adults work dutifully in jobs they do not especially like for one reason — the money. People need to support their families and try to accumulate a little security in the process if possible. Some people instead opt for occupations that they find fulfilling, even if less remunerative. There is nothing wrong with that, but it is wrong for them to complain or expect others to provide for them. Very few people truly marry their vocation with their avocation, and those that can do so successfully are truly blessed. Many of these “occupiers” seem to think they are entitled to do this, and that is naive and selfish. Of course, their enablers have been parents and other boomers who keeping repeating that silly mantra “find your passion.” The idea that one is entitled to make a living by doing whatever one finds interesting and fulfilling is obnoxious. Tell that to a “pricing strategist” at Pepsi.

  • Now now Mike! There might be a couple of us around here who happen to think being a pricing strategist is much like marrying a vocation with an avocation (even at Pepsi!). 🙂 Granted, we may be odd birds, but (I think I speak for both of us here) there was no prior interest in the field and the work was taken as a means to food on the table, but have since developed a significant enough interest to call it a passion.

  • By his own admission, Rush does his thing for the money. It seems that he also believes his unwashed brand of free-market, limited-government opinions are the best overall for the majority of the people.

    The kicker: the liberals, e.g., Obama-worshiping geniuses that can’t find work like the ones at #OccupyFAIL, give him so much to talk about.

    Limbaugh’s not the only person raising the “higher education bubble” issue. See Instapundit’s periodic entries.

    Here is one of my “take-aways” from reading the Classics: In stressful situation, I often ask myself, “What would Odysseus do?” In other words, think about why he was the only one to get home to Ithaca. Although, I think that killing all the suitors was, ahem, “overkill.”

  • I sometimes listen to Rush and I enjoy his program. I accidentally tuned in back in the early 90’s and found that his views are sometimes my views. I especially loved his early satire. Remember the timber updates. He has a good work ethic, makes tons of money and is annoying at times. Just turn it off if it sends you over the edge. One of my daughters graduated with a major in political science and a minor in history. She took the law exams, passed and said she would never want to be a lawyer. I said get a job, any job. Find work because you have to support yourself. She started in a small communications business, applied and finished her masters degree at a local university and through the years has worked herself into a very good position with a fortune 500 company in the field of energy. College can be a boondoggle. Students entering should always think about how they can apply their studies to the real world.

  • I don’t get the animus against Rod Dreher. Granted, he’s a personal friend of mine, but I generally find that he has more interesting things to say on any given day than just about any other blogger anywhere.

  • I don’t get the animus against Rod Dreher. Granted, he’s a personal friend of mine, but I generally find that he has more interesting things to say on any given day than just about any other blogger anywhere.

    Well, he is not a personal friend of mine, so I just have to react to what he writes. Some of those who contribute here locked horns with him for years at Open Book. Others just observed his shtick.

    1. It is exceedingly imprudent to remark without qualification on what you read in the newspapers about criminal prosecutions or civil disputes. It tends to provoke even more irritation when you a putatively a journalist and supposed to evaluate things with a skeptical ear, no?

    2. What your gut tells you does not matter much. Emotional freight (yours or someone else’s) is not probative.

    3. If you have a habit of framing something in terms of the embarrassment or upset it causes you, you tend to alienate people.

    —-

    4. More particularly, the most salient problem associated with the abuse crisis in the Catholic Church was as follows: uncorroborated accusations delivered 15 years after the fact are very difficult to evaluate in a satisfying way. That was not the only vector operating in diocesan chanceries, but it was perhaps the most powerful one. Also, one’s sense of plausibility does change given experience. A bishop who has in his files four or five accusations accumulated against priests in the previous 40 years (the mode in 1978) will likely listen with a different kind of ear than a bishop who has received four or five accusations in the previous 18 months (the mode 10 years later). In addition, a mass of accusations against priests is indicative of a general problem. It is not very helpful in evaluating specific cases, any more than crime statistics help you dispose of specific indictments.

    I am not sure Leon Podles ever acknowledged any of the foregoing. Rod Dreher did once in regard to a priest he knew personally. Having faced the issue once, he then stopped facing it, and returned to being irked, bored, and impatient with anyone who raised the matter. Interfered with his narrative.

    5. The vicissitudes of life, public and private, commonly cause people who are not completely pig-headed to make incremental adjustments to their worldview. Some people make radical adjustments, though usually not in middle-age. This sort of experience should temper your vehemence.

    6. With regard to the above, and more generally, if your default mode is one of accusation, you tend to alienate people.

    7. Also with regard to the above, and more generally, if your priority seems to be one of appearance (being seen with x, y, or z), it tends to be alienating. Lack of a certain bravery under fire tends to be alienating as well.

    8. A great many of us are hypocrites in large matters and small, including yours truly. When an obnoxious advocate of child safety and the simple life mentions off-hand that all the windows in his house are painted shut and he has the a/c running 24/7, one is amused (if one was previously alienated; struck dumb otherwise).

    9. Whittaker Chambers did not claim to have invented his own dispensation in political thought, crunch crunch.

The Future of Catholic Schools

Tuesday, April 26, AD 2011

With the discussion relating to Catholic homeschooling last week, I was strongly reminded of this (very good) article on the future of Catholic schools in the spring issue of National Affairs which a good friend pointed me towards a while back. As the article points out, the issues facing Catholic schools are many, though perhaps the biggest are:

  • Public schools are no longer the explicitly Protestant institutions they were back in the 1900-1960 era
  • The teaching orders whose virtually free labor made Catholic schools relatively affordable in their golden age virtually ceased to exist in the decades following Vatican II
  • Changing demographics have moved Catholic populations away from many of the schools already built, and in this day and age building new ones is vastly more expensive

    This has left many dioceses struggling with whether to shutter schools, and many of the continuing urban Catholic schools serving students who are mostly not Catholic.

    The Archdiocese of New York, for example, reported in 2008 that, among its inner-city schools, nearly two-thirds of students lived below the poverty line and more than 90% were racial minorities. In Washington, D.C., as of 2007, more than 70% of students attending the lowest-income Catholic schools were non-Catholic. In Memphis’s inner-city “Jubilee” Catholic schools, as of 2008, 96% of students lived below the poverty line and 81% were non-Catholic. In fact, over the past 40 years, the portion of minority students in Catholic schools overall increased by 250%, and the share of non-Catholic students increased by 500%.

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    20 Responses to The Future of Catholic Schools

    • Either way, however, what you get is Catholic schools which are run by Catholics, and to some extent for Catholics, but which do not have imparting the faith to students and maintaining an explicitly Catholic culture as a primary mission. And as this ceases to be the case, many of the parents who are most serious about their children’s faith (and thus who are most likely to provide lots of support and volunteer hours to a school) will start to wonder if it’s really worth making major financial sacrifices in order to send their children to a Catholic school.

      Well, it’s what you get, not what I get.

      I’ll leave to another day the larger discussion that many conservatives seem to exclusively speak to the more affluent and white collar element of society (If the President proposes raising taxes on Americans with incomes over $1/4 mill “They are going to raise your taxes.” Or “Young Catholics are becoming more orthodox and traditional,” citing a survey of college students. And of the 3/4ths of Catholics who do not go to college? )

      And I’ll accept your analysis of suburban Catholic schools. I don’t have any experience there. But I do believe in the value of the Catholic inner city schools that I have experience with. We do a great job in imparting the faith to students and maintaining an explicitly Catholic culture as a primary mission. The baptisms and confirmations of parish school students at the Easter Vigil gave witness to that.

      Some of our school parents try but few contribute much to the school financially or in volunteer time. They are mostly low wage, often working two part time jobs, or they have never met their child, in prison or on drugs.

      Left to my call, I would close the parish before I would close the school. As for the suburban schools, maybe it is time to give up on them.

    • I’ll leave to another day the larger discussion that many conservatives seem to exclusively speak to the more affluent and white collar element of society (If the President proposes raising taxes on Americans with incomes over $1/4 mill “They are going to raise your taxes.” Or “Young Catholics are becoming more orthodox and traditional,” citing a survey of college students. And of the 3/4ths of Catholics who do not go to college? )

      Hmmm. Interesting opening here.

      – I am not clear that conservatives speak exclusively to the more affluent and white collar element of society — any more than that progressives all engage in armchair sham solidarity with “the poor”. Both are exaggerations which people use when they want to make a point about people they don’t like.

      – It is true that conservatives do not tend to take a “don’t worry, they’re not coming for you right now” approach to tax increases. We tend to dislike them in general.

      – Unless you’re seeing very data than I have ever run into, I have no idea where you get the claim that 3/4 of Catholics do not go to college. Overall, more than 60% of American high school graduates take at least some college, and I’ve seen little to suggest that the figures are so diametrically opposite for Catholics as for the rest of Americans.

      And I’ll accept your analysis of suburban Catholic schools. I don’t have any experience there. But I do believe in the value of the Catholic inner city schools that I have experience with. We do a great job in imparting the faith to students and maintaining an explicitly Catholic culture as a primary mission.

      If so, that’s certainly great, though the article I linked to talks in depth about DC inner city Catholic schools, and talks about the tendency to de-emphasize specifically Catholic elements of the curriculum in order to appeal to the 90% of parents who are not Catholic in these neighborhoods.

      Now, providing alternative sources of education (especially when the union-influenced Democratic party establishment is so set on quashing vouchers in DC) is absolutely an activity worthy of the Church’s efforts, but as the article discusses, I think it’s important that if schools have decided that their mission is to provide alternative education venues to poor non-Catholic families, that they frame that subject that way when putting the issue to donors. Right now, urban Catholic school systems are still structured around the idea that a parish school is for educating the children of the parish and should be supported primarily by the parish — yet the actual parishes for many of these urban schools have withered away for lack of Catholics.

      If schools want to re-mission themselves as primarily a missionary or social service institution providing quality education to children who could not otherwise afford private schools, that is absolutely outstanding and should be supported. But it needs to be proposed as that, not as somehow being a continuation of the 1950s model of parish schools in which tuition and that parish’s weekly collection made up the expenses.

    • 84.7% of graduates from Catholic high schools go on to attend four year colleges as opposed to 44.1% of graduates from public schools according to the National Catholic Educational Association.

      http://www.pacatholic.org/catholic-education/catholic-school-students-graduate-go-to-college-at-higher-rates/

      I have never seen any evidence to suggest that three-fourths of Catholics never go to college.

    • In some areas Catholic school are booming. Including one Diocese where the Catholic parents pay no tution and they are building more. However I have been in the Catholic Church long enough to realize that some of these Dioceses could be on the moon and know one will attempt to go there and find out how it works

      http://richleonardi.blogspot.com/2008/04/tuition-free-catholic-schools.html

    • I am not clear that conservatives speak exclusively to the more affluent and white collar element of society

      Not all. I’m just struck by the many occassions where I hear comments made in a general forum by political conservatives but use the term “you” to speak of white collar or affluent people.

      If so, that’s certainly great, …

      I think it is. For me, its one of the brightest spots in church life. That’s why inner city Catholic education is the major focus of my charitable giving.

      though the article I linked to talks in depth about DC inner city Catholic schools, and talks about the tendency to de-emphasize specifically Catholic elements of the curriculum in order to appeal to the 90% of parents who are not Catholic in these neighborhoods.

      In my experience, I think respectful accomodations are met. I’m sure our environment does not meet the standards desired by many of the parents who get their children’s book from Igantius Press. But I have not found any of those folks willing to live in the neighborhoods we serve. It is a religious environment that does not deny our Catholic principles but seeks to serve as we can.

      In raw numbers it is an intake with 90% non-Catholic and an out-take with no less than 20% Catholic. I think the Opus Dei school that relocated from the affluent part of DC to the far suburbs has a 90% Catholic in-take and a 70% Catholic out-take. I’m betting most other suburban Catholic schools are in the same ballpark.

      But we make no apologies for not measuring sucess by how many non-Catholics we get to the baptismal pool. Of the majority who neither come in nor leave Catholic, many of them are quick to witness that their experience has made them better Christians or caused them to become Christians, even though of another community. The alumni newsletter of one of our inner city schools recently profiled a star graduate who proclaimed that his faith was exhanced by the school to the point where it led him to enter the ministry in the Baptist Church (the powers that be however, did decline my suggestion that he be tallied as a vocation from the school).

      These schools I speak of are probably no better academically than the public schools. While it is our mission to give kids a good education, it is not our mission to give them an academic alternatives to the public schools. We work to help enhance their love of God and neighbor and showing them our love of God and neighbor.

      And the parish, including the childless and those who send their children elsewhere are tremendous supporters of this mission.

    • I’m just struck by the many occassions where I hear comments made in a general forum by political conservatives but use the term “you” to speak of white collar or affluent people.

      Most people, absent some reason to do otherwise, assume that their audience in any given conversation is like themselves. Similarly, most people online are by some definition of the term “white collar” though often not “affluent”. (Blue collars as simply not that common these days, as manufacturing work has become so efficient as to need relatively few workers.)

      I’m sure our environment does not meet the standards desired by many of the parents who get their children’s book from Igantius Press. But I have not found any of those folks willing to live in the neighborhoods we serve…. But we make no apologies for not measuring sucess by how many non-Catholics we get to the baptismal pool.

      Following on the above point: like most other people, I tend to address, by default, people in a position similar to my own. In this case, parents with lots of young Catholic children who, if they are going to pay for a Catholic school, want to know that it is serious about teaching the Catholic faith and living out an authentically Catholic environment — not a vaguely Christian one.

      Now honestly, I would have no problem also supporting (to the extent possible given my extant commitments to my parish and diocese and other Catholic organizations such as Food For The Poor) schools run by Catholics for the purpose of providing a free or highly subsidized Christian education to children living in poor urban neighborhoods. I think that kind of work can make some of the biggest differences in people’s actual lives.

      But that seems to me a very different mission than the one which parish schools are typically pitching themselves as fulfilling.

      Also, it’s probably worth noting:

      – It seems odd to fault people who have other options for not wanting to live in poor urban neighborhoods, given that most of the people who do live there would probably rather live somewhere else given the choice too.

      – While it may seem, from your political point of view, like a worthy object of snark, the religious education texts put out by Ignatius Press for elementary level Catholic schools and parish religious education programs really are first rate. Having seen many of the heavy handed and triumphalist reprints from the 30s through the 60s which some homeschoolers use, and the watered-down-to-the-point-of-insanely-dull mainstream texts put out by publishers such as Macmillan and Silver Burdett — the Ignatius Faith & Life texts are very good resources for parents and schools. (I know several “normal” catechists who use them simply because they’re more interesting and less fluffy than a lot of other texts.) I’m not sure why Ignatius Press itself would be considered a particular target of mockery just because they put out solid books, whether CCD texts or the Pope’s works.

    • Most people, absent some reason to do otherwise, assume that their audience in any given conversation is like themselves. Similarly, most people online are by some definition of the term “white collar” though often not “affluent”.

      Yes, I was mostly referring to statements I read or hear conservatives making on television or in the daily newspaper. I confess that my personal interactions tend to be more with working class people than white collar. But I understand your point.

      Following on the above point: like most other people, I tend to address, by default, people in a position similar to my own

      That is why dialogue is so wonderful. I guess I would tend to do the same, but through dialogue both you and I have opportunity for a broader exposure. That’s a good thing, I think.

      Now honestly, I would have no problem also supporting [such schools]. I think that kind of work can make some of the biggest differences in people’s actual lives.

      I appreciate that. Thank you.

      But that seems to me a very different mission than the one which parish schools are typically pitching themselves as fulfilling.

      I guess what you find typical and what is typical in my life is back to the discussion earlier. I don’t think I have ever stepped foot into a suburban Catholic school. I trust your judgment on them.

      It seems odd to fault people who have other options for not wanting to live in poor urban neighborhoods

      I don’t fault such people, but I am a great admirer of those who intentionally live among the poor. Here there must be a dozen “intentional communities” as the kids call them of young Catholics aflame with the Church’s social teaching living among low income people. This movement rarely gets the attention it deserves but I think is one of the great lay apostolates of our time. And they are complemented by many Catholic individual or families doing the same because of their faith and Catholic Social Teaching. It harkens back to the 1930s when Catholic “social justice types” with advanced degrees took jobs in factories to be among the workers.

      I’m not sure why Ignatius Press itself would be considered a particular target of mockery

      I didn’t mock them. I noted they are not successful in getting their publications into the hands of inner city residents who are in need of evangelization. Maybe they tried and failed, maybe they have not tried, or maybe that is not their “market” (sorry to use an entrepreneurial term). I don’t know and I didn’t speculate.

    • I guess what you find typical and what is typical in my life is back to the discussion earlier. I don’t think I have ever stepped foot into a suburban Catholic school. I trust your judgment on them.

      Well, as someone who’s read a certain amount about the actual history of the Catholic school system, I can assure you that it really is the case that parish schools were originally built to serve primarily Catholic children who lived in the parish — not non-Catholic children looking for an alternative to inner city public schools.

      It was as many Catholics left these neighborhoods that the schools re-purposed themselves to serve non-Catholic students.

      This is not a matter of your experience versus mine, it’s simply a matter of history. Among other resources, the article which I linked to above describes the history of the Catholic school system in the US.

      It’s not a matter of urban versus suburban, nor does it require parsing according to different people’s experience. While there have been mission schools of various sorts intended to serve non-Catholic students, the parish schools were built to serve Catholic children from the parish. I’m kind of surprised that someone who generally knows as much about the history of the institutional church in the US as you do would consider this a matter of dispute or opinion.

      Also, just as a side note: I remain unclear why it is that you seem to consistently equate “suburban” with “affluent”, the two do not necessarily correlate at all. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the regions of Los Angeles at all, but San Fernando is a very solidly working class to lower middle class area. It’s not Watts, but it’s no Santa Monica either.

    • I can assure you that it really is the case that parish schools were originally built to serve primarily Catholic children who lived in the parish

      In the case of my Washington, DC parish, that would be WHITE Catholic children. Black Catholic children of the parish were not allowed in the school until those pushy liberals forced the issue.

    • In the case of my Washington, DC parish, that would be WHITE Catholic children. Black Catholic children of the parish were not allowed in the school until those pushy liberals forced the issue.

      Ummm… Okay. I’m not really clear where you’re going with that.

      Obviously I think it’s appalling that DC area parishes behaved that way. Or is this a “see who can associate the other with worse events that happened before I was born” contest?

    • Kurt,

      Do you get paid by the word, or for each accusation you level at the conservative, evil, rich white devil?

      Regards,

      T: one of them

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    • “Changing demographics have moved Catholic populations away from many of the schools already built”

      I’m hoping to change one small aspect of this problem. It’s actually against federal law to place a housing advertisement that mentions whether a church or religious institution is in the neighborhood. It’s considered a covert signal of intent to discriminate. (Ridiculously strict, I think.)

      Liberalize housing laws like these, and realtors and their clients can more easily form the kind of neighborhoods that support Catholic schools in an organic way.

      “Intentional communities” are probably overrated and require too much work for most people. At the same time, there’s nothing stopping Catholic families from deciding to re-colonize an old urban parish with a high-potential school. These efforts seem more realistic to me than Ave Maria Town-type endeavors.

      Of course, this assumes that the old urban parishes can be safe enough. And I’m not sure this is possible.

      My grandparents had lived in a thriving urban parish neighborhood. But crime increased, Catholics moved away, and they were struck by an arsonist twice in the twilight of their days. Their son still lives in the city only because he’s in the same working-class neighborhood where many police live.

      The anti-suburb mentality ignores these tragedies. It expresses disdain for those who fled for fear of their safety, when we should disdain the authorities who failed (refused?) to provide effective protection.

      Even the anti-racist mentality probably shackled authorities’ hands and guaranteed the destruction of these Catholic neighborhoods. “White flight” was caused by sticks as well as carrots.

    • This is another of those interesting examples of how you never know, when you write a post, where the discussion thread will go. It seemed to me that the interesting story here is how to fund and organize Catholic schools (or if so many Catholic schools are even required) in the Catholic Church in the modern US.

      In the framing of this, the National Interest story seems to provide a pretty compelling example of the issues at play, with Archbishop Wuerl of the Diocese of Washington DC having a dozen inner city Catholic schools which the diocese could no longer succeed in keeping afloat financially turned into secular charter schools so that they could continue their mission (with much of the same staff) albeit with all religious identity stripped away as required by the charter school system.

      What came up as a discussion topic instead, however, was another area in which Catholics have strong opinions about each other.

    • Ummm… Okay. I’m not really clear where you’re going with that.

      Obviously I think it’s appalling that DC area parishes behaved that way.

      I have absolutely no doubt you find that appalling. However, you overlooked that very real and significant historical fact in your accounting of the situation. That’s all.

    • I have absolutely no doubt you find that appalling. However, you overlooked that very real and significant historical fact in your accounting of the situation. That’s all.

      I said that the parish school system in the US was built for the purpose of providing Catholic schooling to the children in the parish. You tell me that in your parish, this was true to an extent, but that prior to a certain point (the 50s or 60s, I assume?) the parish only allowed the children of white parishioners in.

      That doesn’t really change the point that parish schools were built, and their funding mechanisms were design, to provide schooling for Catholic children of families in the parish, via the means of largely free clerical and religious teachers. As parishes have emptied and religious orders with the mission of providing education have dried up, this mission has changed and the structure has in many cases proved unsustainable (as shown by the fact that Abp. Wuerl recently had to secularize a dozen full inner city Catholic schools.)

      I’m not sure what the segregation point brings to the matter — other than that it allowed you to associate yourself with “those pushy liberals” who advocated for the change and by implication to associate conservatives with the racists in your parish.

    • Much is usually written about the decline of our Faith experienced by students at the university or college level and, to a lesser degree, Catholic high schools. Rarely are Catholic K-8 schools part of this discussion, though 47% of this year’s new priests attended these schools (a larger percentage than Catholic high schools or colleges). The focus of concern needs to stress this level for many reasons, not the least of these is that by the time a student reaches high school it is already too late for many. Those who don’t have the opportunity to attend a Catholic high school are doomed to only a two-year Confirmation program where there is little grounding in the Faith, but instead Protestant-like feel good group sessions. While some will disagree, Kumbaya sessions are not enough to enable a teenager to defend their Faith when the inevitable challenge presents itself.
      The Faith needs to be introduced at the lowest level and it must be authentic. Most parents are not very well versed in Catholicism (and the reasons are many). Most say they want their children to know what it is to be Catholic and they ruefully add that they didn’t “get much” when they were younger and they hope for more for their children today.
      Learning the Faith is difficult if one only uses a textbook. This is because most textbooks are very “sugar-coated” and do a great disservice to Catholicism and to students. Why? Many of the basic tenets of Faith are glossed over or ignored. So much of our religion and its heritage are not addressed that our students leave for high school ill-prepared (though the high school curriculum leaves much to be desired, as well) and unable to clearly express what we believe and who we are. (Try, “Why did God create you?” and you’ll hear nothing faintly resembling the old Catechism.)
      Another problem is that students don’t see their Faith in action. Parents have sloppy Mass attendance records, teaching and administrative staffs are not entirely Catholic and, worse, many are “barely” practicing. Hardly what anyone would want from any Catholic school system!
      What can be done?
      Obviously correcting what has already been discussed – first. This will not be as easy as it appears. Publishers wield a lot of influence in public and parochial schools, sacrificing content for cost of books is always a potential problem, though the more “conservative” textbooks are not usually even to be considered.
      Staffs and administrators need to be “authentically” Catholic, not of some other religion and not merely giving lip-service to what we believe – pastors and (arch-)dioceses need to listen to parents and their complaints and not be afraid to take action.
      To the horror of many, introduce an 8th grade final exam for Religion (not a bad idea for high schools, either). The dread this causes many administrators is that they are entirely confident that so many will fail! These administrators know that their Religion teachers are part of the touchy-feely crowd (as they are themselves) and they root-out those who actually try to give students a foundation in Catholicism in a variety of ways (it’s sometimes dangerous to teach the Faith, even in a Catholic school!). It is also common for administrators to give only lip-service to religion as a subject because math and science are more important subjects among their colleagues and in high school and college entrance exams.
      Insure that the pastor is in favor of a school. This is not as obvious as it appears. There are many who did not go to a Catholic school growing up so they don’t understand what is happening, except that it’s a financial drain on the parish. Bishops and, by extension, priests are charged with ensuring that every child who wants to attend a Catholic school can do so, but reality often seems to get in the way.
      How many dioceses left the National Catholic Education Association when it became known that Sr. Helen Prejean and Garrison Keillor were keynote speakers? None? What the Church teaches, Catholics believe – not a portion, not a little, but all. To give people – sisters, priests, bishops, whoever –who do not profess a profound belief in our Faith a platform to speak is inimical to Catholic teaching and gives scandal. School superintendents and bishops share a responsibility in determining who their schools associate with.
      Grounding our children in the faith may also be rewarding in an unexpected way: some may also grow up to become sisters, brothers and priests if the groundwork is properly set. The groundwork lies in the very beginning.

    • FYI, Archbishop Dolan of NY had a thoughtful article on Catholic schools in America a few months ago. See here:

      http://www.americamagazine.org/content/article.cfm?article_id=12448

    • Catholic schools ought to be scrapped entirely, unless they can establish an active association with parish led by pastor which includes financial underwriting such that fees paid per family regardless of income are nominal. (Or, in future, depending on politics, the use of vouchers). Fundraising for the school should not be conducted among presently attending families since this fosters favoritism, is unhealthy and leads to scandal. All schools should be required to promote the basic tenets of the faith and families as well as administrators and teachers also should agree to the necessity to receive sacraments regularly, to attend Mass as a family weekly and to embrace Catholic values in the home. Families whether Catholic or non-Catholic should agree before being admitted.

      As presently constituted many Catholic schools undermine the faith or interfere with the basic practice of the faith by families. Many are unaffordable and become the playground of the rich and powerful, regardless of faith affiliation. This is why so many opt for homeschooling or public school where one can encounter a more diverse cross section of society in general.

    • I find mystifying some of the characterizations of Catholic schools that I have read on American Catholic.

      My children go to Catholic school – my son to the parish school and my eldest to an all-girl IHM school. I find their lives enriched by the experience and helping them grasp the subtleties of our faith forces me to read more, consider more, and pray more.

      “(U)ndermine the faith [and] interfere with the basic practice of the faith by families”? What does that mean? Preparing one’s child for Reconciliation or Holy Communion is a pretty “basic practice of the faith” and Catholic schooling is chocked full of such experiences.! And, have you ever actually met an IHM Sister? If ever there was a repository of fiery faith and dedication among merely mortal beings, it rests there!

      I have the greatest respect for those who home-school. Whether it is by choice or due to necessity, the decision to keep at least a step ahead of what your kids have to know at each grade level, in every single subject, throughout their schooling is an extraordinary commitment. Home-schooling isn’t for everyone though. Some of us lack the patience to be formal teachers. Suggesting that Catholic schools aren’t worth the expense because they are little more than secular schools narrows our options to either home-schooling them as Catholics or give them over to Secularism.

      I wonder too if the cost complaints fail to consider the relative costs of such schooling in 1920 or 1950? Many Catholic families in 1950 had four or more children. Only one parent was working and more people held blue-collar jobs. Might it be unfair to suggest that our costs for raising our children as Catholics are unbearable and theirs were not? From the conversations I’ve heard over the years, sending your children to private schools has always been a burden. Maybe the difference is that it was a burden born more graciously in previous generations.

      The short of it is that I love our schools and see them as a critical piece to preserving Catholicism in America. If one’s treasure is where one’s heart is, maybe the things that are being complained of are more a reflection of our hesitancy to sacrifice for something as little valued in the world as a Catholic education. What I mean is that it is easy choose Catholic schools in places where the public schools are poor.

      It is much harder to choose them where the public schools are little less than campuses filled with every amenity and opportunity EXCEPT faith. Many choose to set aside a Catholic education in favor of what they perceive to be a better, albeit secular, education. I believe though that the sizes of CCD classes reflect the decreasing importance of faith within some families who make that choice. How many of the complaints about the cost and quality of Catholic schools are really masks to hide the darker truth – that loss of access to a top tier football team, university quality laboratories, and vacations to Disney World is an unacceptable cost for “mere” reinforcement of faith and values?

    First Graders and History

    Saturday, February 12, AD 2011

    As we have learned, there was much hatred of Catholics by English Protestants in Maryland. One great Catholic man was able to overcome this hatred and he is one of our great patriotic heroes. His name was Charles Carroll. Charles Carroll was born in Maryland. His parents sent him to a Catholic school in France where Catholics were respected…Charles Carroll said that his greatest accomplishment was that he “practiced the duties of my religion.” Many Protestants began to realize that their prejudice against Catholics was unjustified.

    The sentences above begin and conclude a typical lesson in a Catholic homeschooling course on American History intended for first graders.  This is not a genre with which I have much familiarity (we’re homeschooling for a few months to finish out the school year after a move), and so I thought it might be interesting to offer some comments as an outsider on the homeschooling materials we’ve received.

    The most obvious (if superficial) feature of the homeschooling materials is that they are drenched in religious art, regardless of subject. As an alum of a mixture of public and parochial schools, I was surprised to find Spelling and Math textbooks adorned with (often very beautiful) religious art work. I don’t think there is anything right or wrong with decorating textbooks in this manner, per se, but it takes some getting used to.

    As the passage quoted above suggests, the next thing that I noticed is that the history narratives tend to be awash in a type of Catholic triumphalism. I like a small dosage of triumphalism as much as the next guy, but it seems to me it should used (at most) as cream or sugar in coffee; the tendency with this particular textbook is instead to include a few (uniformly favorable) facts in the ongoing account of noble-Catholics-doing-good-things.

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    10 Responses to First Graders and History

    • Now, now, John. I’m not sure that French Revolution professor was homeschooled… 😉

      But seriously. Where did you find this curriculum? Though to be fair, I can think of a few where this would probably not stand out a whole lot.

      We do homeschool all the kids, and as you know, MrsD and I were homeschooled through middle school and high school. I’d say this is fairly typical of a certain type of packaged Catholic homeschool curriculum. The would be the same sort of folks who would use Christ The King, Lord Of History in high school. One of the things about homeschooling, however, is that you have far more latitude than public or parochial school teachers in picking your own books, and thus there’s room for a lot more range. Some of the packaged Catholic curriculums use reprints of old 30s through 50s era Catholic school textbooks — and some of those are, in fact, overly triumphalistic IMHO. (Others are quite solid. Publishing was not as consolidated back then, and there appear to have been a wider range of materials.)

      Overall, I’d say it’s okay to have a history textbook for first graders which has a bit of a good guys/bad guys approach to some issues, but it needs to be done carefully. I certainly wouldn’t have a problem with a kids textbook talking about persecution of the Catholics in England, and how that was eventually put aside in the United States, but obviously I’d expect there to be some discussion of Catholics persecuting Protestants and Protestants persecuting each other as well. I think it’s a bad idea if a history textbook sets kids up to be surprised by that kind of revelation later. (What, you mean Catholic sometimes persecuted people as well? I never knew that! I thought they were the good guys!)

      Right now I’m reading the girls (primarily our 3rd and 2nd graders) E. H. Gombrich’s A Little History of the World. Gombrich was, I believe, Jewish, but he wrote the book for a mainstream children’s audience in 1920s Austria, and it’s since become available in English. It generally treats the Catholic Church very fairly (perhaps no surprise, being written for an Austrian audience at that time) and I like it’s story-telling without hyperventilating approach. But there are an awful lot of good things out there.

      I’d say the key, with homeschooling, is that it primarily makes sense for people who have an active interest in spending a fair amount of time searching out good materials themselves. There are packaged curriculums out there, but as you’ve found they all have their own particular flavor, and it’s important to decide whether or not you think it’s the right one. (We take a “build our own” approach to curriculum, ourselves.)

    • (Guest comment from Don’s wife Cathy): We did history unit studies with the kids every summer before our oldest graduated from the local public high school, as well as reading aloud daily from children’s history books & biographies after (public) school. I used what Catholic materials I could find (TAN Books titles such as “Christ the King, Lord of History,” old parochial school textbooks, Vision Books biographies, and some adult books from Don’s personal collection) as supplements to Protestant homeschool materials and secular children’s books (& public-school theme unit books). I think the mix of materials from various viewpoints provided balanced coverage of the periods and individuals we read about, without boring the kids.

      Don’s wide reading background in history and common-sense “reality checks” were also a good safeguard against any nonsense which might have cropped up in our choice of history reading material. One pair of books Don particularly recommends is “The History of the Ancient World” and “The History of the Medieval World” by Susan Wise Bauer. These 2 volumes are both published by Norton and written for adults, but make extensive use of any written material available from the period being discussed, and are much less dry as read-alouds for children & teenagers than most adult history books would be. (NB: These should not be confused with her “The Story of the World” series (published by Peace Hill Press), a Protestant homeschool history curriculum (I believe) which we have not used (and therefore are unable to comment on with any knowledge).)

    • “I like a small dosage of triumphalism as much as the next guy, but it seems to me it should used (at most) as cream or sugar in coffee”

      That’s a good way to put it. Same with political or religious satire or parody — if it is used as an occasional “flavoring” to an otherwise bland public discourse or course of historical study, it’s fine; when it becomes the dominant or main course it rapidly becomes indigestible.

      Also Don and Cathy point out something that may be overlooked in the St. Blogs arena: homeschooling doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing proposition. Really, ALL parents homeschool to some extent, the only difference is whether they do it full time or part time. A family that is not prepared or able to homeschool full time can still use homeschooling materials to supplement what their child receives at a public or Catholic school. Every little bit helps even if it’s just during the summer, or on weekends or in the evenings.

    • This seems to be a deficit with the textbook approach to teaching full stop. The older approach would have been more comprehensive references and instruction dependent more on lecture. The advantage of the former is that it has democratized instruction, enabling more to do it. The big disadvantage is there is no clear point to transition to mastery of a topic. As a professor of mine put it, at some point you have to stop taking survey courses and actually learn something.

      Personally, I don’t see much value in a first grader knowing about Carroll. I can understand giving a kid cocktail answers (the year the US entered WWI, the allied powers of WWII, the axis powers of WWII), but giving a kid cocktail opinions just seems silly. Even were the opinion of Carroll not difficult to defend, the child still would have no real ability to defend it and have no real understanding of the opinion. I’ve come to the opinion that it is better to teach children mastery of a few things than to give them a little knowledge of a lot of things.

    • The statement is true, it is pitched at 1st graders who, presumptively, are being brought up in the Catholic faith…in such a situation, you keep it simple and you provide abundant reasons for loving what should be loved…you can explain why the beloved object did some hateful things later, then the kid is older and fully grounded in the faith.

    • Interesting. I’ve never thought about home school curricula before.

      Agreed about a 1st grader not needing to know about an oversimplified version of Carroll. But I could see maybe having your child read about him in later high school, and maybe even reading The American Cicero by Birzer.

      That’s what I see as the great home school advantage. The ability to utilize great works on a particular issue that actually inspire and generate interest. 1776 or John Adams by McCullough, e.g., for the war of independence. I’d also recommend Bill Bennett’s American history books for high school level (maybe junior high, as well) called America: the last best hope; I think it comes in two volumes. He wrote it with the intention that it be used by students as an inspiring, narrative-oriented alternative to the dry, sterile, p.c. account we find in most textbooks. It even has a sprinkling of Catholic anecdotes.

    • Thanks for the comments, all. As Darwin, Cathy, and M.Z. point out, it looks like we made a rookie mistake in approaching homeschooling. We were just looking for something to fill in a few months prior to the next school year and so we have not spent much time figuring out what materials to use. For now, I think we will probably just selectively use the pre-packaged curriculum we have (how bad can the Math book be?) with some supplemental materials for subjects like history.

      Mark – to the extent we disagree on the merits of the lesson quoted above, I’ll note that my problem with the lesson is not primarily that it presents a rosy view of Catholics; it’s that it denigrates Protestants as full of “prejudice” and “hatred” while at the same time presenting Catholics as heroes. Any time a history book starts resembling a New York Times Op-ed, I get a little uneasy. Tribalism is tribalism, whether it’s religious or political.

    • Hmmm, not sure I see the problem with the cited passage, which seems simply factual to me.

      Of course, all history comes with a viewpoint. Why should Catholics feel compelled to give their children the supposedly “neutral” viewpoint (which in fact imports a secularist viewpoint).

      Of all the viewpoint-laden history out there, it seems to me perfectly natural that Catholics would select a history that highlights the accomplishments of our co-religionists, and attempts to correct some of the “black legend” so prevalent in American history texts.

      Of course, when students reach higher levels of study, the simple grade school narrations give way to a more comprehensive study, which will be more nuanced.

      But for grade school, history has to be a fairly simple narrative. Better one like the sample above than what passes for history in the government schools.

    • Oh, and some of the “prejudice” and “hatred” for Catholics in the New World is touched on here: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09755b.htm and includes violent persecution.

      After all, we’re talking about an English colony during a time when the Penal laws were in effect, and martyrdoms were occuring, yes, even in the colonies.

      I don’t think it’s mere tribalism to re-cover some basic truths about this period of history: the dominant English Protestant culture was not a welcoming environment for Catholics, and not just in New England.

    • John,

      Well, I wish it were a reasonable assumption that one could simply pick up on of the standard Catholic curriculums and expect it to be good without reservation, but at least as of when I’ve looked I’ve always had a few issues with their choices in history and science (though the latter shouldn’t affect first grade much.) On the other hand, there’s no reason not to mix and match, so it’s easily remedied.

      For the record, if someone does want to pick up a boxed curriculum and not have to worry about any of the content, my strong recommendation for a Catholic family would actually be to pick up the secular (but certainly not hostile to Christianity) curriculum from Calvert, which is the curriculum which is often used by kids of parents in the diplomatic core, etc. Pair that with the Faith & Life religious ed books from Ignatius and some bible stories and saints lives and you’re pretty much all set. (Not like I’d be advocating doing a sudden switch in your situation.) Calvert is not cheap, though it’s less than parochial school tuition, but they’re been pretty universally good in all the grades I’ve seen. I’d tend to say this is an example where a well done secular approach to curriculum development is sometimes better than an overly religiously-motivated one.

    Diversity: Individual vs. Collective Good

    Monday, August 16, AD 2010

    The Wake County Board of Education is considering significantly modifying one of the largest remaining efforts at school busing for diversity — in this case, economic diversity, given that busing for racial diversity has been overturned legally.

    Opponents of the planned change charge that this represents a return to segregation, but reading about the motivations of those pushing to reduce busing suggest it’s more a question of individual versus collective good.

    When Rosemarie Wilson moved her family to a wealthy suburb of Raleigh a couple of years ago, the biggest attraction was the prestige of the local public schools. Then she started talking to neighbors.

    Don’t believe the hype, they warned. Many were considering private schools. All pointed to an unusual desegregation policy, begun in 2000, in which some children from wealthy neighborhoods were bused to schools in poorer areas, and vice versa, to create economically diverse classrooms.

    “Children from the 450 houses in our subdivision were being bused all across the city,” said Ms. Wilson, for whom the final affront was a proposal by the Wake County Board of Education to send her two daughters to schools 17 miles from home.

    Now, it’s possible to read all sorts of dark racist or classist motives into these kind of conflicts, but it strikes me that the real difficult here is in reconciling private and public goods.

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    13 Responses to Diversity: Individual vs. Collective Good

    • I’m not joking, and anyone who wants to snicker may do so, but if this forced egalitarianism isn’t communism, I’m not sure what is.

      I hope this policy dies the death it deserves.

      And I truly feel sorry for the lower-income minority students who are shafted with these horrid government schools. They were sucked into dependency upon an inferior product.

      There are deep, structural flaws in the entire manner in which this country does education. Almost all of our leftists and at least half of our conservatives buy into what Charles Murray calls “educational romanticism”, or what I just call rampant egalitarianism.

      Though I regularly criticize the European way of doing things, I have to admit, Germany’s school system – and Japan’s – are much more sober and realistic models. Not everyone is entitled to a four-year college education, or the means by which to attain it. Instead students are placed on tracks that correspond to their actual abilities.

      Some think these models are too rigid. Indeed, I was so terrible at math as a grade school student that I might have been unjustly relegated to a lower track. So obviously I would want a flexible system that takes a students particular strengths and weakness into account instead of relying upon quantitative test scores to determine everything. But this is what we would get in a society comprised of private and home schools, I think.

      We would stop degree inflation and devaluation as well.

    • Tuition at private universities in Germany and Japan is comparable to state university tuition in the US. Public universities in Germany charge nominal tuition.

      I wouldn’t mind some form of voluntary busing. Abolish public school zoning and allow kids to go to any public school in the state. Schools can arrange bus service if there’s enough demand.

    • “Abolish public school zoning and allow kids to go to any public school in the state. Schools can arrange bus service if there’s enough demand.”

      1. The best schools in the state would quickly do a Titanic from the number of kids that would be attempting to go to them.

      2. Urban school systems would face shutting down at least 15% of the schools that no one in their right mind would want to attend. The teachers who teach in these schools would be quickly assigned to other schools. If they are poor teachers, I doubt that they wouuld improve simply due to a change of scenery.

      3. Parents of kids in the best urban schools would quickly place their kids in private schools if they were able.

      4. Support for school bond initiatives would quickly collapse around the state, except for good schools a great enoough distance away that they wouldn’t have to worry about “outsiders taking over our schools.”

    • From what I hear in my urban school system, which practices open enrollment (you can choose where to send your kids) and which has schools with widely different performances, the so-called “best” schools do not, actually, fill up quickly.

      Going to the neighborhood, close-to-home school is apparently a strong draw.

    • clarification: I don’t send my kids to the school district, I homeschool.

    • 1. The best schools in the state would quickly do a Titanic from the number of kids that would be attempting to go to them.

      Why not re-incorporate them as philanthropies governed by trustees elected by their alumni and allow them plenary authority to regulate their admissions?

      2. Urban school systems would face shutting down at least 15% of the schools that no one in their right mind would want to attend. The teachers who teach in these schools would be quickly assigned to other schools. If they are poor teachers, I doubt that they wouuld improve simply due to a change of scenery.

      Why not re-incorporate the other 85% of schools as philanthropies and allow them plenary authority to hire whom they please and fire whom they please?

      3. Parents of kids in the best urban schools would quickly place their kids in private schools if they were able.

      Schooling is a fee-for-service enterprise which producers will generate in response to demand, not a public good like bridges. Who needs a state agency as a supplier? Why not re-incorporate extant public schools as philanthropies and then have the sheriff’s department erect schools to teach (or lash in place) the incorrigibles no one else will chance?

      4. Support for school bond initiatives would quickly collapse around the state, except for good schools a great enoough distance away that they wouldn’t have to worry about “outsiders taking over our schools.”

      Why not re-incorporate the extant schools as philanthropies and have them borrow money on their own account?

      In response to concerns that public subsidies will generate the same economic and financial dynamic which obtained in medical care and higher education, why not prohibit these philanthropies from charging tuition? They can subsist on state vouchers, donations, and endowment income. If one is concerned about quality control, have the state board of regents hold mandatory examinations each year and have the secretary of state revoke the charters of schools at the bottom of the league tables.

      Sorry to be a grouch.

    • Arizona and other states have state wide open enrollment laws. Arizona’s law has weasel language that makes me wonder how effective it would be.

      “Arizona Open Enrollment Law.
      The State of Arizona requires that every school district must have an “Open Enrollment Policy.” Students are permitted to request enrollment in any school in the entire state regardless of geographic location. However, there are space limitations which can make transfer to some schools difficult. Each school district can adapt unique requirements, but parents do have options. Each individual school district can answer your specific questions and are required to accommodate requests if reasonably possible. An Enrollment Transfer Request is required.”

    • You are preaching to the choir Art as far as I am concerned.

    • Don, of course enrollment would be subject to seating capacity limitations.

    • Then what good does open enrollment across a state do if the best public schools are fully occupied? Unless some sort of lottery system was used, I would imagine that enrollment would consist overwhelmingly of students living close to the school and whose parents would have contacts with the administrators who would run the schools, not to mention members of the local school board.

    • A lottery would work. Implemented alongside charter schools, you’d have a publicly funded race to the top. It’s my understanding (perhaps erroneous) that open admissions + lottery + charter schools works in Arizona.

    • And if I may repeat myself, you are *assuming* that the “best” (by what measure?) public schools will fill up quickly. It is not necessarily so. Proximity appears to be a large draw to a school that for many parents will trump other concerns.

    • That’s a good point Bearing. Do people relocate to be within the geographical boundaries of a good school district or do they move to a location where there are good schools close by? It doesn’t sound like much of a distinction but there is. I can’t really see someone voluntarily moving to an area with poor performing schools thinking that they’ll just haul the 20 miles every day to a better district.

    Science and Technology in World History

    Monday, July 5, AD 2010

    Technological history is a unique point of view that always caught my eye.  David Deming of the American Thinker gives us a brief synopsis of his latest contribution in this genre.  Keep in mind how integral Christianity was to the recovery of Europe after the barbarian invasions and the safekeeping of knowledge by the monastic system that allowed Europe to recover and blossom into what we now call Western Civilization:

    Both Greece and Rome made significant contributions to Western Civilization.  Greek knowledge was ascendant in philosophy, physics, chemistry, medicine, and mathematics for nearly two thousand years.  The Romans did not have the Greek temperament for philosophy and science, but they had a genius for law and civil administration.  The Romans were also great engineers and builders.  They invented concrete, perfected the arch, and constructed roads and bridges that remain in use today.  But neither the Greeks nor the Romans had much appreciation for technology.  As documented in my book, Science and Technology in World History, Vol. 2, the technological society that transformed the world was conceived by Europeans during the Middle Ages.

    Greeks and Romans were notorious in their disdain for technology.  Aristotle noted that to be engaged in the mechanical arts was “illiberal and irksome.”  Seneca infamously characterized invention as something fit only for “the meanest slaves.”  The Roman Emperor Vespasian rejected technological innovation for fear it would lead to unemployment.

    Greek and Roman economies were built on slavery.  Strabo described the slave market at Delos as capable of handling the sale of 10,000 slaves a day.  With an abundant supply of manual labor, the Romans had little incentive to develop artificial or mechanical power sources. Technical occupations such as blacksmithing came to be associated with the lower classes.

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    2 Responses to Science and Technology in World History

    • The Europeans developed the stirrup which made possible heavy cavalry of armored knights. Before that cavalry rode in on the flanks of infantry and either fired arrows or threw javelins. Then retired. With the stirrup, the knight would remain on his war horse even waffter he skewered his foe.

      In my wasted youth (I was drinking more tha I was thinking) I had to take a course in European history in the Middle Ages. One of the books assigned was on technological developments in the Age. That was Spring 1970.

    • Could this be why BHO has just made ‘reaching out to the Muslim world’ foremost mission for NASA?

      That’s a great idea, they are killing us with low tech, so we should help them acquire high-tech so they can kill us better. Liberals are so smart.

    The Human Impact of Charter Schools

    Saturday, June 5, AD 2010

    A WSJ article from last week puts a human face on the difference that charter schools can make for “at risk” students:

    In middle school, Ivan Cantera ran with a Latino gang; Laura Corro was a spunky teen. At age 13, they shared their first kiss. Both made it a habit to skip class. In high school, they went their separate ways.

    This fall, Ivan will enter the University of Oklahoma, armed with a prestigious scholarship. “I want to be the first Hispanic governor of Oklahoma,” declares the clean-cut 18-year-old, standing on the steps of Santa Fe South High School, the charter school in the heart of this city’s Hispanic enclave that he says put him on a new path.

    Laura, who is 17, rose to senior class president at Capitol Hill High School, a large public school in the same neighborhood. But after scraping together enough credits to graduate, Laura isn’t sure where she’s headed. She never took college entrance exams.

    The divergent paths taken by Laura and Ivan were shaped by many forces, but their schools played a striking role. Capitol Hill and Santa Fe South both serve the same poor, Hispanic population. Both comply with federal guidelines and meet state requirements for standardized exams and curriculum. Santa Fe South enrolls about 490 high school students, while Capitol Hill has nearly 900.

    At Santa Fe South, the school day is 45 minutes longer; graduation requirements are more rigorous (four years of math, science and social studies compared with three at public schools); and there is a tough attendance policy.
    [read the rest]

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    3 Responses to The Human Impact of Charter Schools

    • As a Texan marveling at someone’s ambition to be governor of Oklahoma I am tempted to paraphrase St. Thomas More’s joke about Wales.

      (That’s a mild attempt at innocent humor, O dour keyboard commandos.)

      Ivan’s ambition to be governor of Oklahoma is admirable; that he wishes to be a Hispanic governor may in charity be attributed to his youth. One hopes he will be an Oklahoman governor of Oklahoma, leading and serving all people regardless of their DNA or culture.

    • While I see a place for national standards, I’m a big proponent for a sizeable amount local control of education. I’d like to see a lot more private and independent schools in the country, each to an extent free to pursue excellence in their own way.

    • It’s important to note that, nationwide, charter schools haven’t improved education. However, there are vast differences between cities. New York’s charter schools are working. It looks like the structure of the school itself doesn’t matter much if the teachers are still bad. NY’s charter schools have managed to attract top notch teachers. That fits well with numerous other studies that show that the teacher quality is the most important component to improving failing schools.