Category Archives: Education

Academic Diversity

In everything but thought:

A professor who confronted me declared that he was “personally offended” by my column. He railed that his political viewpoints never affected his teaching and suggested that if I wanted a faculty with Republicans I should have attended a university in the South. “If you like conservatism you can certainly attend the University of Texas and you can walk past the statue of Jefferson Davis everyday on your way to class,” he wrote in an e-mail.

I was shocked by such a comment, which seemed an attempt to link Republicans with racist orthodoxy. When I wrote back expressing my offense, he neither apologized nor clarified his remarks.

Instead, he reiterated them on the record. Was such a brazen expression of partisanship representative of the faculty as a whole? I decided to speak with him in person in the hope of finding common ground.

He was eager to chat, and after five minutes our dialogue bloomed into a lively discussion. As we hammered away at the issue, one of his colleagues with whom he shared an office grew visibly agitated. Then, while I was in mid-sentence, she exploded.

“You think you’re so [expletive] cute with your little column,” she told me. “I read your piece and all you want is attention. You’re just like Bill O’Reilly. You just want to get up on your [expletive] soapbox and have people look at you.”

From the disgust with which she attacked me, you would have thought I had advocated Nazism. She quickly grew so emotional that she had to leave the room. But before she departed, she stood over me and screamed.

This is one of the reasons that the education bubble will eventually pop. Parents aren’t going to remain willing to spend tens of thousands of dollars to send their kids to Indoctrinate U.

An Utter Waste Of Money

That’s what the first two years of college are for most people:

Good students from good high schools, who have not taken advanced placement, know how to play the repetition game. They cut class and recycle their high school term papers.

Early in my teaching career, I had a student from one of the state’s best high schools. She was bright, but hardly exceptional. I found she was taking more than a full class load and holding down a full-time job. I was amazed. She told me that her classes at a suburban high school were more demanding than their repetition at the university. She chose classes where attendance wasn’t mandatory. Was she recycling her high school term papers? Of course; so was everyone else from her class.

A student in the sciences or engineering could not remotely do this, but the liberal arts have become intellectual wastelands, with an emphasis on persuading a captive audience as to the eternal verities of professors’ beliefs about racism, sexism, and homophobia.

A colleague in engineering used to remind me that in his college “PC” stood for personal computer, not political correctness. His dean was reprimanded for not sending his graduate students to diversity training during orientation week. The dean stated that engineering was a serious subject and his students had important assignments during that week. Told that he would have to answer to an administrative hearing, he said that he would be pleased to show up along with several of his alumni, successful businessmen and big contributors to the university. He then said to the diversity apparatchik, “This is a career decision you are about to make.” The hearing never took place. An engineering dean could get away with this. A liberal arts dean could not.

Higher education is the next overvalued and overpriced bubble to pop, I think.

A Spelling Test

Via Derbyshire, who claims to have gotten eighteen right. My guesses (not open book, with Firefox spellcheck temporarily disabled) are over the fold. I haven’t checked to see what my score is, but someone else can, if they have the time.

1. ass-uh-9
2. brag-uh-doe—C-O
3. rare-uff-I
4. lick-wuff-i
5. puh-vill-yun
6. ver-mill-yun
7. im-pah-stir
8. mock-uh-sun
9. uh-komuh-date
10. kon-sen-sus
11. roe-ko-ko
12. tittle-8
13. sack-ruh-lijus
14. may-uh-naze
15. im-pray-sorry-O
16. in-ock-U-late
17. sooper-seed
18. obly-gahto
19. dessuh-Kate
20. re-sussuh-tate

If you want to try it yourself, do it before looking at mine.

Continue reading A Spelling Test

British (Or Canadian?) Firefox

I like the spell chequer in Firefox, but I’ve noticed that it doesn’t understand American spelling. On the previous post, it told me that “defense” was spelled incorrectly, and suggested “defence” instead. I’ve also seen it tell me that “favorite” is properly spelled “favourite.” Anyone know why?

Amusingly, I also note that it doesn’t think that “firefox” is a word.


College style:

In the videos, YAF members approach their classmates with a petition calling for the redistribution of student GPAs. “It would make it so that all students have an equal opportunity to go to grad school,” University of Oregon YAFer Kenny Crabtree explains. Students with bad grades would therefore be entitled to points earned by straight-A students.

Their classmates are flabbergasted.

“Is that, like, a joke or something?” one guy responds.

“Why would you take points from people who are higher up and give them to people who didn’t meet the requirements?” another asks George Mason University YAFers. But when asked if he supports Obama’s wealth redistribution schemes, he says “yes.”

Shocking? Not really. As I pointed out in my March 30 column, most college students are economically illiterate. When quizzed by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute about basic concepts, such as supply and demand, the average student’s score was 53 percent. And since most don’t work or pay taxes (only 46 percent of full-time students have jobs), they simply have no idea how capitalism works.

The economic illiteracy being promulgated by our educational system is quite depressing. It’s almost like it’s part of a grand scheme.

Look Who’s Teaching

Is it any wonder that our children are growing up so ignorant, when this kind of thing isn’t a rarity, but probably typical? A history teacher who thinks that George Washington wrote the Bill of Rights?

I guess we should be thankful that he knows that George Washington even existed. This is why people home school.

I am also awed by Cam’s ability to maintain his civility and politeness with this ignoramus.

Making Ayn Rand Look Good

Tyler Cowen has a brutal review of what looks to be an idiotic ant-capitalist documentary:

A few months ago I went back and tried to read some Ayn Rand. As Adam Wolfson has suggested recently in these pages, it wasn’t easy.1 I was put off by her lack of intellectual generosity. I read her claim that “collectivist savages” are too “concrete-bound” to realize that wealth must be produced. I read her polemic against the fools who focus on redistributing wealth rather than creating it. I read the claim that Western intellectuals are betraying the very heritage of their tradition because they refuse to think and to use their minds. I read that the very foundations of civilization are under threat. That’s pretty bracing stuff.

I can only report that The End of Poverty, narrated throughout by Martin Sheen, puts Ayn Rand back on the map as an accurate and indeed insightful cultural commentator. If you were to take the most overdone and most caricatured cocktail-party scenes from Atlas Shrugged, if you were to put the content of Rand’s “whiners” on the screen, mixed in with at least halfway competent production values, you would get something resembling The End of Poverty. If you ever thought that Rand’s nemeses were pure caricature, this film will show you that they are not (if the stalking presence of Naomi Klein has not already done so). If you are looking to benchmark this judgment, consider this: I would not say anything similar even about the movies of Michael Moore.

In this movie, the causes of poverty are oppression and oppression alone. There is no recognition that poverty is the natural or default state of mankind and that a special set of conditions must come together for wealth to be produced. There is no discussion of what this formula for wealth might be. There is no recognition that the wealth of the West lies upon any foundations other than those of theft, exploitation and the oppression of literal or virtual colonies.

“Narrated by Martin Sheen” would be the first clue.