today’s colleges: political correctness censors free speech and thinking

You read that right.

Political correctness rules on campuses throughout the US.  It makes no difference if one is attending a private or a public university or college.

What happened at the University of California in Berkeley a few nights ago has, with less violence, happened on many college campuses around the nation for many years.  It is not really new.  David Horowitz, a former leftist turned conservative author and speaker, has spoken and written about his experiences visiting major universities to give speeches.  There were protests at many universities and there were instances where his speeches had to be cancelled.  The same is true for conservative author and speaker, Ann Coulter. Non-politically correct visitors to universities have to bring with them bodyguards.

 

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some thoughts on ideology in higher education

This issue is important to me from a macro view of society and for personal reasons.  I have many fond memories of the time spent at university while an undergraduate and then later as a graduate student.  Meeting many students from other countries and other regions of the US, interacting with various professors and instructors (young and old, men and women) in many fields, the various courses taken, and the use of the large libraries on campus – these were very positive experiences for me and helped to broaden my perspective and make me aware of so much.

One might think that today’s colleges and universities are places of open inquiry and open and free debate; a true marketplace of ideas where independent thinking is encouraged. Such is not the case on most campuses these days and this is true of both public and private institutions of higher learning.

Before presenting our thoughts on this issue, let’s define the problem and for that we quote extensively from one of our earliest essays (from June, 2012) and, yes, it is pretty blunt (as many of our earliest essays were).  Note the goal of education – this is critical.

start of quote

An Open Letter to United States Educators, Teachers and Students: What is The True Purpose of Education?

“The goal of education is not the unquestioning acceptance of any single interpretation, but the development of an individual’s critical abilities.”

The above quote is from the inside front cover of the Cliffs Notes on T. S. Eliot’s Major Poems & Plays – Cliffs Notes Incorporated, Lincoln Nebraska, 1992 Printing.

I quite agree with this view of the goal (purpose) of education.  This was the prevailing view among responsible US educators until the late 1960s.

Or is the correct purpose of education the indoctrination of students’ minds with/in aggressive feminism, identity politics, political correctness, multiculturalism, so-called gender studies, and Marxist economic and social theories?

To educators, I say it is high time for some objective introspection and honesty with yourselves.  (And, honesty begins in one’s own mind.)  Have you, in zealous pursuit of your agenda(s), done justice to the formation of these young people’s minds, and the development of their critical abilities?  (I think not.)

To college and high school students, dear young people, I say you do not have to buy into, nor believe, the unspoken message (claptrap) that “liberals know best“.  Be aware, that liberals are some of the most narrow minded – really close minded –  people on the planet.  They have very serious problems coming to terms with any real world evidence that contradicts their fervently – even passionately –  held views.

end of quote

So, if many of today’s students appear to be confused on various contemporary challenges and issues facing our nation (the US), are they being confused by what they are exposed to on the college campuses?!

It is worth noting that many home schooled young people after they go away to college succumb to peer pressure and by the time they graduate have adopted many of the politically correct positions of their peers.  This must be very disheartening to their parents who have made such large sacrifices over many years to home school their children and protect them from indoctrination.  Apparently, home schooling does not necessarily build the strength of character needed to resist both peer pressure and bullying by aggressive professors.

So what?  Why does this matter?

Continuing with the same failed approaches to our problems will not solve these problems. The challenges facing the US are not going away and in fact these are only getting worse although many do not realize this or do not care.  We need now and will need in the future critical, independent thinkers to view the challenges and problems confronting us objectively, free of myopic ideological biases, and who will also be able to come up with and consider alternative solutions.  We need individuals who can think “outside of the box”. The ideologically driven colleges are not giving us such individuals, at least not in sufficient numbers.  (Again, consider the goal or purpose of education discussed above.)

We need less ideology and more objectivity, more realism and more pragmatism in our young people.  We need problem solvers, not social theorists.  When the ship is taking on water, you need to start the pumps and prepare for launching the life boats.  You simply do not have the luxury of debating the issue or theorizing about it interminably.

The reality is that the Leftist agenda, the ideology of the Left does not deliver what it claims that it can.  It is time for society to reject this destructive nonsense.

a dose of reality

It is also worth bearing in mind that many professors and associate/assistant professors in academia are insulated from the real world.  These folks inhabit a world of theory and many are effectively disconnected from reality.  Let me be clear here.  This being disconnected from reality applies to many professors in the social sciences and some in the humanities who push their agendas.  Many of the professors in the physical sciences (including engineering) and business (accounting, marketing, finance) departments have actually worked in the real world, the real economy, and have real world experiences that temper their judgement.  But many professors in the social sciences and some in the humanities have little meaningful real world experience.

We now would like to give these ideologically driven educators a reality check.  The US is a very diverse, pluralistic society.  If we desire social cohesion in our society, we need to start stressing the things we have in common as citizens, even as human beings.  Celebrating differences is fine except when it distracts us from the recognition that we have more in common than we have differences.  And, constantly emphasizing our differences does distract us from the recognition of the many things we have in common.  If we continue to stress our differences, then we will continue to see the balkanization of our society. Identity politics, multiculturalism, etc. bring about an “us versus them” mindset which is not conducive to social harmony.  It is preferable to foster a perspective that “we” all have a stake in our country’s future and that “we” can by working together make it a better society for all.  What we see in society today and on the college campuses are efforts to keep antagonisms between groups alive and thus keep the people divided.  No wonder we cannot effectively combat the out of control, and increasingly despotic government we have because we are fighting amongst ourselves.  (Divide and conquer is a classic stratagem of the Left.)

Some young women and young men are standing up in the classroom to abusive ideologically driven professors.  Making their disagreement with the liberal orthodoxy (“dogma” is perhaps a more fitting term) known has a price.  Vindictive professors often punish such independent voices with poor grades even if the student’s exam performance and term papers warrant higher grades.  The reality is this:  Those professors and instructors who punish dissenting students with poor grades and humiliating comments during class are childish, cowardly, and unethical.

This leads us to say that society must revisit this whole concept of tenure for professors at our colleges and universities.  We need to weed out the bad apples and this may have to be done wholesale (on a large-scale).  If the chancellors, provosts and university presidents resist this, then these can be replaced as well.  Of course, this won’t happen.  But, there must be a check on ideologically driven educators.

In closing, let me add that if you know an ideologically driven professor, or associate professor, you could forward on to him or her a link to this essay.

Copyright 2014 – larrysmusings.com

different perspectives, different ways of thinking

different perspectives, different ways of thinking

“. . . . But in these first simple number sums there is one very important consideration.  It will make a great difference to the tendency of his thinking for the rest of his life whether you fill the child’s mind with the idea that one and one and one make three, or whether you start with three and break it into its parts.  Ultimately and logically the first leads to the idea that the universe is composed of atoms.  The second, the grasping of the whole before the parts, is the way of imagination, and leads to the view that it is only the whole which gives meaning and existence to the parts.  The difference is as subtle as it is profound.

“Starting with the whole makes it possible also to introduce another gesture into arithmetic.  Addition, the adding of unit to unit, always contains something of the suggestion that the object is to get more and more.  Subtraction leads readily to the picture of giving away to others.  So, if it is to be a gardener with a bunch of roses he has grown, let him be thinking: if he has twenty roses and gives a beautiful bunch of six to his neighbor and seven to his wife, how many will there be left over for his friend’s little girl who is very ill in bed? . . . .  The children should only know that they are learning about numbers. Actually they are learning something of far greater importance — a moral attitude to life.  . . .”

This quote is from p. 104 -5 of The Recovery of Man in Childhood, by A. C. Harwood, copyright 1958 by The Myrin Institute of New York, eighth impression 1992.  (The subtitle only appearing on the main title page is “A Study in the Educational Work of Rudolf Steiner”.)

I am currently browsing through this book during intermittent periods of lucidity.

How and what we teach our children will have very important consequences for the future of our world.

There is a practical benefit to making use of different perspectives.  From the days when I was a problem solver, working on contract with various companies, I know it is true that viewing a problem from a different angle(s), so to speak, can help in arriving at solutions. Many evenings upon leaving work, it would seem that no solution could be found to a problem (or, if you prefer, a challenge).  Perhaps, the unconscious was involved here in ways that I did not suspect.  In many instances, the next morning when I arrived and began the day’s work, another way of viewing the problem would suggest itself quite quickly.  Then, when viewed from a different perspective, the solution, or at least, a solution jumped up at me.  Possibly, doing some individual brain storming may also help to generate ideas and possible solutions.  (Being on contract often to work on “special projects” precluded including other employees in such brain storming as they had no time to spare for it.)  As well, this approach is even applicable to improvising solutions to mechanical problems around the house when there is no help available.  Relax the constraints on your mind, be less rigid in your thinking, and constructive solutions can be found.

Shadows on pavement (July, 2013).

 

shadows 4

 

As the subtitle suggests, this book is based on the work of Rudolf Steiner (1861 – 1925), an Austrian philosopher and scientist.  I may have come across his name before in my wide ranging reading, but I was not familiar with his writings.  He was an ardent admirer of the German writer, Goethe (1749 – 1832).  Now some German writers and philosophers can be terribly difficult to read.  I recall suffering through Immanuel Kant in college days. Nietzsche (1844 – 1900) was easier to read (The Birth of Tragedy, Beyond Good and Evil) in recent years, but he plays the role of social critic as much as he does of philosopher. Perhaps, social criticism is simply the other side of the coin of philosophy.  (Bertrand Russell (1872 – 1970) said that Nietzsche was the successor to Arthur Schopenhauer, but that he did not present a new philosophy.)

the library at Alexandria, education, and the free availability of knowledge

the library at Alexandria, education, and the free availability of knowledge

Greetings!

Listening this past weekend to a fairly new radio station in our area, it kept playing a few times each day the song, Die Young, by Kesha.

You can call it up on YouTube to give it a listen.  But, be warned – the song has a seductive beat that may capture you.  One may find oneself humming or singing the song for a couple of days or more.  Towards the end, there are some sexually suggestive lyrics that made me laugh.

It is permissible for middle-aged folks to listen to the music of the young, at least it is for those of us who are young at heart, and are not unduly rigid in our thinking.

Now, to our essay.

 

water

 

The Great Library at Alexandria, Egypt was founded by Ptolemy I in about 295 B.C.

Here we quote from Wonders of the Ancient World, Antiquity’s Greatest Feats of Design and Engineering, by Justin Pollard, 2008, Quercus Publishing, London.  From page 90:

“Yet despite – or maybe precisely because of – its fame, the history of the library and the museum at Alexandria is a troubled one.  Ancient sources tell us that it held the largest collection of knowledge on earth and was probably both the first and the last place where everything ever known could be found.  Such knowledge was often dangerous and throughout its history there are episodes of burning and destruction.”

An angry, Christian mob, during anti-pagan rioting in the year 391, desecrated the smaller remaining library (known as the Serapeum).  Julius Caesar, had much earlier in 48 B.C. on a military campaign in Egypt, caused a fire that spread to the library and resulted in the loss of many thousands of ancient parchments.  The extent of the destruction then appears to have been very serious.  With the Christians, however, religious fervor overcame reason (as can also happen in a theocracy).  Much knowledge – that had nothing to do with pagan religions – was thus lost.  By the time the Muslim Arabs captured Alexandria in 642, the library was likely already in ruins.

Based on the history we do have that many of the leading mathematicians, physicians, geographers, architects, philosophers, etc. of the ancient world spent some time studying at Alexandria at various times, the knowledge contained in the Great Library was likely significant, and likely would have had practical benefits for Western man.  As so much ancient knowledge was lost, we can only speculate (guess) as to how the course of Western civilization may have been different if the knowledge had survived.

If we are ever to sort out and constructively solve our problems in this very troubled world, we will need for knowledge to be freely available and will we need individuals capable of thinking independently, not beholden to any one school of thinking or ideological viewpoint.

Of course, the goal of education is to develop independent, critical thinking skills in students.  If this is not at present the goal of education in the Western world, it ought to be.  (Sadly, much evidence indicates that it is not.)

Those who are agenda or ideologically driven, and are zealous, often feel (rightly) threatened by the free flow of knowledge.  Similarly, those who want to retain their power over others are wary of knowledge that may serve to undermine that power.  As an example, there are those who ardently advocate for nuclear power generation, and ignore or downplay its inherent danger.  (Nuclear power allows for no human error(s).  Chernobyl (1986), and more recently, Fukushima, prove that.)  A more poignant example is those who traffic in so-called “political correctness”.  Many of these people are not open to considering real world facts that contradict their positions.  Their minds are closed.

We need free access to knowledge, and we need to strive to be objective and rational in our pursuit of truth.  Open, honest debate and the dissemination of knowledge should be encouraged.   This is not easy for many people.  There is a constant war, so to speak, inside their minds between emotion and reason.  (Most biases seem to be emotionally driven.) Truths, when found, can be unpleasant for many to accept.  But, why is that?  I think it is difficult for many persons to accept and admit that they have been clinging to erroneous positions because over the years they have invested so much of themselves in their closely held positions.  There is no doubt some emotion involved here.  But, it is so very costly to cling to flawed positions or policies that do not help to make things better in this world.  As the old military adage goes, “do not reinforce failure”.

What I have just written is no fairy tale.  Many a person has invested much of themselves in misguided causes in recent decades.  One recalls the idealistic youth of the 1920s and 1930s who ardently espoused communism.

Alas, we cannot change the whole world all at once.  But, we can make the effort to change ourselves in positive, constructive ways, and thereby start a ripple effect among those around us.

An Open Letter to United States Educators, Teachers and Students: What is The True Purpose of Education?

An Open Letter to United States Educators, Teachers and Students: What is The True Purpose of Education?

“The goal of education is not the unquestioning acceptance of any single interpretation, but the development of an individual’s critical abilities.”

The above quote is from the inside front cover of the Cliffs Notes on T. S. Eliot’s Major Poems & Plays – Cliffs Notes Incorporated, Lincoln Nebraska, 1992 Printing.

I quite agree with this view of the goal (purpose) of education.  This was the prevailing view among responsible US educators until the late 1960s.

Or is the correct purpose of education the indoctrination of students’ minds with/in aggressive feminism, identity politics, political correctness, multiculturalism, so-called gender studies, and Marxist economic and social theories?

To educators, I say it is high time for some objective introspection and honesty with yourselves.  (And, honesty begins in one’s own mind.)  Have you, in zealous pursuit of your agenda(s), done justice to the formation of these young people’s minds, and the development of their critical abilities?  (I think not.)

To college and high school students, dear young people, I say you do not have to buy into, nor believe, the unspoken message (claptrap) that “liberals know best“.  Be aware, that liberals are some of the most narrow minded – really close minded –  people on the planet.  They have very serious problems coming to terms with any real world evidence that contradicts their fervently – even passionately –  held views.

Think about it!

Responsible replies are welcome.

https://larrysmusings.wordpress.com