Category Archives: Education

History

…that is of no interest:

Stroilov claims that his documents “tell a completely new story about the end of the Cold War. The commonly accepted version of history of that period consists of myths almost entirely. These documents are capable of ruining each of those myths.” Is this so? I couldn’t say. I don’t read Russian. Of Stroilov’s documents, I have seen only the few that have been translated into English. Certainly, they shouldn’t be taken at face value; they were, after all, written by Communists. But the possibility that Stroilov is right should surely compel keen curiosity.

For instance, the documents cast Gorbachev in a far darker light than the one in which he is generally regarded. In one document, he laughs with the Politburo about the USSR’s downing of Korean Airlines flight 007 in 1983—a crime that was not only monstrous but brought the world very near to nuclear Armageddon. These minutes from a Politburo meeting on October 4, 1989, are similarly disturbing:

Lukyanov reports that the real number of casualties on Tiananmen Square was 3,000.

Gorbachev: We must be realists. They, like us, have to defend themselves. Three thousands . . . So what?

And a transcript of Gorbachev’s conversation with Hans-Jochen Vogel, the leader of West Germany’s Social Democratic Party, shows Gorbachev defending Soviet troops’ April 9, 1989, massacre of peaceful protesters in Tbilisi.

Stroilov’s documents also contain transcripts of Gorbachev’s discussions with many Middle Eastern leaders. These suggest interesting connections between Soviet policy and contemporary trends in Russian foreign policy. Here is a fragment from a conversation reported to have taken place with Syrian president Hafez al-Assad on April 28, 1990:

H. ASSAD. To put pressure on Israel, Baghdad would need to get closer to Damascus, because Iraq has no common borders with Israel. . . .

M. S. GORBACHEV. I think so, too. . . .

H. ASSAD. Israel’s approach is different, because the Judaic religion itself states: the land of Israel spreads from Nile to Euphrates and its return is a divine predestination.

M. S. GORBACHEV. But this is racism, combined with Messianism!

H. ASSAD. This is the most dangerous form of racism.

One doesn’t need to be a fantasist to wonder whether these discussions might be relevant to our understanding of contemporary Russian policy in a region of some enduring strategic significance.

As she points out, there should be at least as much opprobrium for defending, or being associated with communists as there is with Nazis. They did, after all, murder many more people. Instead, their fellow travelers continue to travel freely in academia, and pollute the minds of our youth. And as the documents show, they continue to run Europe as well.

[Update a few minutes later]

I hadn’t read the whole thing when I first posted this. Here is another gem:

And what of Zagladin’s description of his dealings with our own current vice president in 1979?

Unofficially, [Senator Joseph] Biden and [Senator Richard] Lugar said that, in the end of the day, they were not so much concerned with having a problem of this or that citizen solved as with showing to the American public that they do care for “human rights.” . . . In other words, the collocutors directly admitted that what is happening is a kind of a show, that they absolutely do not care for the fate of most so-called dissidents.

Remarkably, the world has shown little interest in the unread Soviet archives. That paragraph about Biden is a good example. Stroilov and Bukovsky coauthored a piece about it for the online magazine FrontPage on October 10, 2008; it passed without remark. Americans considered the episode so uninteresting that even Biden’s political opponents didn’t try to turn it into political capital. Imagine, if you can, what it must feel like to have spent the prime of your life in a Soviet psychiatric hospital, to know that Joe Biden is now vice president of the United States, and to know that no one gives a damn.

You should really read the whole thing.

Reinforcing Racism

Some disturbing, but not surprising (at least to me) counterproductive results:

Chatman attributes the low climate scores in area and ethnic studies precisely to the instruction students receive in those classes. “Students in area and ethnic studies should have learned to recognize prejudicial communication and should be more sensitive to communication that might be prejudicial,” he writes. Whereas a math student might hear a remark and think nothing of it, an African American Studies student might discern prejudice and stereotyping. Does this mean that students in area and ethnic studies are more perceptive and accurate in their assessment of campus climate, or have they acquired in their classes a “warped lens” (Chatman’s term) that sees social life in overdone racial categories? Chatman even draws a logical possibility that might appall area and ethnic studies instruction, that is, that the climate in those fields is a lot worse than it is in engineering classes and labs. One wonders how area and ethnic studies professors would feel if they were ordered to undergo diversity sensitivity sessions themselves to try to straighten out their problems.

One suspects they wouldn’t take it well. I’ve got a better idea. Don’t guarantee student loans for anyone majoring in this crapola (along with degrees in “education”), and watch it dry up and blow away.

The Left’s War On Science (Cont.)

More thoughts on the Harvard law controversy, from Peter Berkowitz. I wish that the student had stood up for her beliefs. She had nothing to apologize for, and in doing so, she only encouraged more of this anti-scientific oppression. In fact, I wish that she’d file a defamation suit against Minow. That might get these idiots’ attention. I wonder if FIRE is on the case?

[Looking……..]

Nope, don’t see anything. Maybe we should establish a legal fund. Of course, you probably won’t do very well in law school if you sue your dean for libel. Which is why she was so quick to needlessly apologize.

Also, this seems related somehow. The continuing struggle of the left to understand the Tea Partiers:

It’s like watching a 3 year old struggle with a jigsaw puzzle for AGES 14 AND UP.

The 3 year old thinks he’s grown up enough to do the puzzle, but after hours of frustration, throws the box of pieces at the wall in anger and screams “RACISTS!”

Well, they’re sure not going to learn how to do it at Harvard.

[Mid-morning update]

Via Derb, here’s an interesting piece by a refugee from a school of education, anonymous for obvious reasons, on the three views of racial disparity — the “progressive” view (and the only one acceptable in education colleges), the “values” view, and the “Voldemort” view. If we had schools of education based on the latter two views, we’d be a lot better off, but the very notion would be an oxymoron, which is why schools of education should be razed to the ground.

Desecration

Do you know what I find most outrageous about this? That a public “servant” tried to force a student to turn an American flag inside out.

[Update a few minutes later]

Thoughts from First-Amendment specialist Eugene Volokh. As a commenter notes there, if a school is at risk from disruption by students wearing an American flag, it has very deep-seated problems. This is multi-culturalism run amok. Also, as another commenter points out, if this was really about Cinco de Mayo, they should have been concerned about French flags. But this was more about Mexican nationalism in American schools than the celebration of a minor Mexican holiday.

[Update a few minutes later]

Zombie has further thoughts:

So here we have the Principal and the Vice-Principal of an American high school treating the Stars and Stripes as if it was a gang bandanna; even worse, the school administrators took sides in this imaginary US-vs.-Mexico gang fight by allowing the widespread display of Mexican flags on campus but banning (under threat of punishment) any display of the American flag.

NBC quotes a fellow student:

“I think they should apologize cause it is a Mexican Heritage Day,” Annicia Nunez, a Live Oak High student, said. “We don’t deserve to be get disrespected like that. We wouldn’t do that on Fourth of July.”

Disrespected? I’m confused. Aren’t all the students Americans? Who is being disrespected by the display of our shared national flag?

I thought that one of the purposes of the public school system, agree with it or not, was to instill a sense of common culture and national (not nationalistic) pride. It seems to be failing at that as well as everything else.

The Left’s War Against Science

Speaking of what is and is not politically correct in academia, there are a lot of interesting posts over at Volokh’s place on the “racist” email incident at Harvard. I agree with Eugene:

I, for one, am disheartened that — for perfectly understandable reasons — a student at a research university feels the need to apologize for having the temerity to be open to scientific evidence on a scientific question, and for deciding to express her openness to her friends.

Now there was something “sad and unfortunate” and lacking in “responsibility” in the circulation of the original e-mail: As best I can tell, the recipients forwarded the sender’s e-mail without the sender’s permissions. That is generally not proper with regard to personal mail, especially personal mail that refers back to an earlier conversation and may be hard to evaluate fully without knowing that conversation. If that were all that the Dean was condemning, I would agree with her. But my sense is that the Dean is condemning the sender, not the forwarders.

Hernstein and Murray were unjustly condemned for The Bell Curve, in my opinion. It may indeed be true that their research wasn’t valid, but that’s not what they were condemned for. They were condemned for even asking the question.

I have no idea whether blacks are on average less intelligent, or more intelligent, than whites (and of course there are different flavors of intelligence, so they could be smarter in some ways, and less so in others). But I’m open to believing that either could be true, because it seems obvious that blacks are unlikely to be exactly as intelligent as whites on every axis. In order to believe that they are, you have to believe that intelligence is not heritable (i.e., you have to be a leftist who denies human nature and believes in the tabula rasa). Because any trait that is heritable, like height, or athletic ability or…skin color, is going to have different averages within a population.

But while it would be ludicrous to argue that blacks don’t have darker skin, on average, or that Inuit tend to be more stout than Kenyans, on average, to have such a discussion about intelligence is completely taboo in academia. Stephen Jay Gould took this to the greatest heights in his Mismeasure of Man, in which he took great pains to gather as much research as possible to “prove” that all homo sapiens, everywhere, have the same innate capacity to learn. And he did this not in the interest of science, though I’m sure that he flattered himself that he did, but in the interest of his Marxist ideology, which could not morally tolerate any other conclusion.

Do I think that such research is socially useful? No, not particularly, but that doesn’t mean that I oppose its being done, as long as it isn’t with my money. But the left considers it socially dangerous research. It’s clear why they consider it so, but the reason that I consider it pure research (that is, not having any societal implications) is that unlike them, I am an individualist, whereas they are collectivists. I treat people as individuals, whereas they treat them as members of favored or disfavored groups. So for them, any research that can result in a group being favored or disfavored, particularly if it isn’t derivative from their own notions of social history, is beyond the pale.

Me? I say what difference does it make how smart the average black is? I’m uninterested in averages — I only want to know how smart the particular black that I’m considering hiring is, and I don’t particularly care whether or not she’s black. Suppose we did find out that blacks were ten points higher, or lower, than whites? Does it mean that we’re going to educate them differently simply because they’re black? I would certainly hope not, but that’s the instinct of the collectivist.

And of course, this is why I find complaints from the left about the “war on science” by the “right” so tendentious. Because in many ways, theirs is even more serious, and unrelenting. Trofim Lysenko, or Margaret Mead, or Margaret Sanger were certainly not right wingers.

[Update a few minutes later]

This seems somewhat related: Why can’t a man be more like a woman?

Echoes Of The Thirties

The words of John Mearsheimer, and others. It’s truly appalling how respectable these sorts of views have become in academia. Not to mention on the left and among Democrats in general.

As a side note, while Coughlin did hate communism, it was only because it was a competing form of socialism to his own — it’s nonsensical to call a man who thought that Roosevelt wasn’t socialistic enough “right wing.” To do so is simply more of the rewriting of history by the left over the past decades.

Those Who Can’t Do…

…teach. And those who can’t teach, teach teaching:

It sounded like a great idea: Stanford education professors would create a model school to show how to educate low-income Hispanic and black students.

Or, as it’s turned out, how not to.

In March, Stanford New Schools (aka East Palo Alto Academy) — a charter high school started in 2001 and elementary grades added in 2006 – made California’s list of schools in the lowest-achieving five percent in the state.

It seems to me that if Stanford doesn’t have a good school of education, no one should be expected to. If I were running the Department of Education (assuming that I couldn’t simply abolish it) I would make it a condition of getting federal money that every teacher in the system have a real degree, where you actually have to know something to graduate — no degrees in “education.”

The Remains Of A California Day

Some depressing thoughts from long-time Democrat (who will be voting for Mickey Kaus in June) Victor Davis Hanson:

…how would we return to sanity in California, a state as naturally beautiful and endowed and developed by our ancestors as it has been sucked dry by our parasitic generation? The medicine would be harder than the malady, and I just cannot see it happening, as much as I love the state, admire many of its citizens, and see glimmers of hope in the most unlikely places every day.

After all, in no particular order, we would have to close the borders; adopt English immersion in our schools; give up on the salad bowl and return to the melting pot; assimilate, intermarry, and integrate legal immigrants; curb entitlements and use the money to fix infrastructure like roads, bridges, airports, trains, etc.; build 4-5 new damns to store water in wet years; update the canal system; return to old policies barring public employee unions; redo pension contracts; cut about 50,000 from the public employee roles; lower income taxes from 10% to 5% to attract businesses back; cut sales taxes to 7%; curb regulations to allow firms to stay; override court orders now curbing cost-saving options in our prisons by systematic legislation; start creating material wealth from our forests; tap more oil, timber, natural gas, and minerals that we have in abundance; deliver water to the farmland we have; build 3-4 nuclear power plants on the coast; adopt a traditional curriculum in our schools; insist on merit pay for teachers; abolish tenure; encourage not oppose more charter schools, vouchers, and home schooling; give tax breaks to private trade and business schools; reinstitute admission requirements and selectivity at the state university system; take unregistered cars off the road; make UC professors teach a class or two more each year; abolish all racial quotas and preferences in reality rather than in name; build a new all weather east-west state freeway over the Sierra; and on and on.

In other words, we would have to seance someone born around 1900 and just ask them to float back for a day, walk around, and give us some advice.

It’s hard to see much hope, given how the looters in Sacramento have arranged things with their gerrymandered districts.

On that last recommendation, does he mean upgrading I-80, or a new freeway with a different (presumably more southerly) route? Perhaps just south of Yosemite, providing a quick route to the Mammoth ski area for the Bay Area? But where would it hook into another interstate? The only two options are I-80, way to the north, or I-15, far south. Ideally, I guess it would continue east all the way across Nevada to extend I-70 in Utah all the way to California. In any event, it’s a pipe dream given the current state of state finances.

[Update a while later]

I haven’t been up that way in a few years. Is 395 four lanes all the way to Mammoth through the Owens Valley now? That would be a natural place to hook in a new road.