Skip to comments.Blissfully Uneducated(VICTOR DAVIS HANSON)
Posted on 07/10/2007 6:31:26 AM PDT by kellynla
Is hothe rapper slang for the slur whorea bad word? Always, sometimes, or just when an obnoxious white male like Don Imus says it? But not when the equally obnoxious Snoop Dogg serially employs it?
Is the Iraq war, as we are often told, the greatest mistake in our nations history?
Because Israel and the United States have a bomb, is it then O.K. for theocratic Iran to have one too?
Americans increasingly cannot seem to answer questions like these adequately because they are blissfully uneducated. They have not acquired a broad knowledge of language, literature, philosophy, and history.
Sometime in the 1960sperhaps due to frustration over the Vietnam War, perhaps as a manifestation of the cultural transformations of the agethe university jettisoned the classical approach [to education] and adopted the therapeutic.Instead, our youth for a generation have been fed a Studies curriculum. Fill in the blanks: Womens Studies, Gay Studies, Environmental Studies, Peace Studies, Chicano Studies, Film Studies, and so on. These courses aim to indoctrinate students about perceived pathologies in contemporary American culturespecifically, race, class, gender, and environmental oppression.
Such courses are by design deductive. The student is expected to arrive at the instructors own preconceived conclusions. The courses are also captives of the presenthostages of the contemporary media and popular culture from which they draw their information and earn their relevance.
The theme of all such therapeutic curricula is relativism. There are no eternal truths, only passing assertions that gain credence through power and authority. Once students understand how gender, race, and class distinctions are used to oppress others, they are then free to ignore absolute truth, since it is only a reflection of ones own privilege.
By contrast, the aim of traditional education was to prepare a student in two very different ways. First, classes offered information drawn from the agesthe significance of Gettysburg, the characters in a Shakespeare play, or the nature of the subjunctive mood. Integral to this acquisition were key dates, facts, names, and terms by which students, in a focused manner in conversation and speech, could refer to the broad knowledge that they had gathered.
Second, traditional education taught a method of inductive inquiry. Vocabulary, grammar, syntax, logic, and rhetoric were tools to be used by a student, drawing on an accumulated storehouse of information, to present well-reasoned opinionsthe ideology of which was largely irrelevant to professors and the university.
Sometime in the 1960sperhaps due to frustration over the Vietnam War, perhaps as a manifestation of the cultural transformations of the agethe university jettisoned the classical approach and adopted the therapeutic.
For each course on rap music or black feminism, one on King Lear or Latin is lost.Many educators and students believed that America was hopelessly corrupt and incorrigible. The church, government, military, schools, and family stifled the individual and perpetuated a capitalist, male hierarchy that had warped Western society. So if, for a mere four years, the university could educate students to counter these much larger sinister forces, the nation itself could be changed for the better. Colleges could serve as a counterweight to the insidious prejudices embedded in the core of America.
Unfortunately, education is a zero-sum game in which a student has only 120 units of classroom instruction. Not all classes are equal in the quality of knowledge they impart. For each course on rap music or black feminism, one on King Lear or Latin is lost.
Presentism and relativism are always two-edged swords: todays Asian victims of racism are tomorrows Silicon Valley engineers of privilege. Last years brilliant movie of meaning now goes unrented at Blockbuster. Hypocrisy runs rampant: many of those assuring students that America is hopelessly oppressive do so on an atoll of guaranteed lifelong employment, summers off, high salaries, and few audits of their own job performance.
Once we understand this tragedy, we can provide prescribed answers to the three questions with which I started. Ho, like any element of vocabulary in capitalist society, is a relative term, not an absolute slur against women. Ho is racist and sexist when spoken by white men of influence and power, jocular or even meaningful when uttered by victims from the African-American male underclass.
If few Americans know of prior abject disasters during the winter of 1776, the summer of 1864, or January 1942, then why wouldnt Iraq really be the worst mistake in our history?
If there are no intrinsic differencesonly relative degrees of power that construct our realitybetween a Western democracy that is subject to continual audit by a watchdog press, an active political opposition, and a freely voting citizenry, and an Iranian theocracy that bans free speech to rule by religious edict, then it will matter little which entity has nuclear weapons.
In the end, education is the ability to make sense of the chaotic present through the prism of the absolute and eternal truths of the ages. But if there are no prismsno absolutes, no eternals, no truths, no ages pastthen the present will appear only as nonsense.
“Those who fail to learn the lessons of history are destined to repeat them.” - Santayana
In other words, “The dumbing down of America via government schools is completing itself.”
ping to an article worth reading
These are more like welcomed diversions from serious study... societal pastimes... cataracts... clouding ones ability to observe and analyze reality.
“But if there are no prismsno absolutes, no eternals, no truths, no ages pastthen the present will appear only as nonsense.” And that is how the ruthless get ahead. Now they seek only to consolidate their power like parvenues in every age have.
Suicide is one of the leading causes of death among US young adults. There is a reason for that.
As a second career college teacher (now retired), I periodically reentered college as a matter of personal enligtenment and professional development. Hansen nails this one. The difference in the education that I received as an undergraduate in the early 1960’s was as different from my later soujourns into higher education in the 70s, 80s and 90s as King Lear is from Big Momma’s House. What passes for education today —with some exceptions—is nothing more than a reiteration of the popular culture wrapped up in post-modernist language. And many younger faculty are truly dumber than wooden watches. They have no understanding of historical context of philosophical underpinning to the world of ideas. Be very careful where your son or daughter matriculates. If someone has not already done so, it would be a very good idea to establish a list of higher education institutions whose core curricula reflect the value and content that Hansen describes as worthwhile.
Yup... that was their mantra in college, when I was a student. Damn the absolute, the truth is relative.
However, I had a for-real upbringing (read: right and wrong exist and we depart from that fact at out own peril. I am living proof that you will not only survive serious a^%-kickings for infractions on that rule, but you will become a responsible and mature adult just the same and I think, a whole lot sooner). ALSO I read books lots of them, NOT just the ones on the syllabus.
I study mathematics and engineering. Unfortunately for the liberals, it is nearly impossible to make relativist such coursework as Linear Algebra, Data Structures, and Algorithms.
Here's something I found:
Colleges of CharacterIt's not a concise list, but it's something.
"Each month, this section features a college or university that is making a sustained and comprehensive effort to promote the moral and civic education of its students."
>>>Sometime in the 1960sperhaps due to frustration over the Vietnam War, perhaps as a manifestation of the cultural transformations of the agethe university jettisoned the classical approach and adopted the therapeutic. <<<
A glut of draft-dodging PHD’s who majored in the social sciences — those who were pumping gas near the end of the war, and afterward — were able to infiltrate our education system, and our government. Don’t forget that our government (federal and state) has created a myriad of social programs since 1970.
They are also, however, major leftist indoctrination camps.
Hillsdale College (Michigan) comes to mind.
Good article. Thanks for posting.
A large percentage of the worthwhile undergraduate majors left in most universities, are in majors with a quantitative emphasis.
Engineering, the real sciences (typically ones that don’t have “science” in the name), accounting, finance, etc.
I see Stetson University come up, similarly.
Thanks for pointing that out - I hadn't really read beyond the quote I used. It's telling that this is the closest I came to finding any search returns, in terms of a list of colleges having 'moral character,' on alltheweb.
Here's a possibility.
I see that Berea College in Kentucky is on the listing of “Colleges of Character”. Berea has a very distinctive character but does also teach from a very liberal bias as well. Each alumni magazine I see only emphasizes this bias.
It's the Jody Factor...
'..ain't no sense in going home - Jody got your girl...".
And, a head start on being your next boss.
OK, so it appears the list I found isn’t any good. Thanks for pointing it out. Yetidog’s idea is a good one though. Personally, I’d like to see a ranking of colleges and universities by left, right, liberal, conservative bias with percentages and all of that. That would be really neat.
What really frosts me today is that all these “studies” that people can major in today would have been soft electives if they’d even existed in the Sixties.
Funny when you consider what folks in your field contribute and how little those who enjoy the fruits thereof know of those subjects......Simple one, sports fans in a stadium who could never design/build the same but think those guys on the field are the be all/end all of things. Yeh, I know, unabashedly in favor of "brains."
Give them time. We once thought that the weather couldn't be politicized too, but now we have the anthropogenic Global Warming myth.
Thanks George from Georgia...did you attend Ga. Tech?
No I have two degrees from UGA. GO DAWGS. My Son is a Tech grad.
Of course. It is the vital first step to the point when all one needs to know is "we have always been at war with Eastasia." The State said so.
My college has nearly 100 different student organizations. When I was a student that number was probably less than 20. Now we have a black student union, a Jewish student union, Asian student union, etc.
This dadgummed celerbation of diversity has reduced my beautiful little college from an institution devoted to the search for truth, into a rock-ribbed, multicultural hell hole where everything is relative.
Recently I asked our provost(the chief academic officer of the college) what was the most popular major. Answer: International business; 2) Psychology. I asked him where history fit in. His answer: “It barely registers.” My response: “So, we are educating students who have positively no sense of the past for their nation or the world.” No answer.
How do we alter this downward spiral into relativism?
Here’s a pretty conservative school (it is Catholic):
Franciscan University of Steubenville (located in Ohio near Pittsburgh, PA)
There is also the issue of "style" over "substance."
My wife teaches literature and writing courses in our homeschool group. A recent graduate of hers received an "outstanding" (6) evalution on the written part of the SAT. Her mother called to thank my wife for my wife's "part" in this outcome.
Let me tell you the rest of the story. My wife only awarded this student a "C" in the course. The student was lucky to get this grade. My daughter who is a national merit finalist and an exceptionally gifted writer (she, only a freshman, was asked to tutor in an honors writing lab at her college). Here's the kicker: she only received a (4) on the written portion of the SAT.
I discussed how this could be with my wife. She informed me that SAT evaluators don't actually read the essays in their entirety, but rather examine them for length, structure and style (confidence). She said they separate them based on length and then do other/subsequent evaluation within each group. It doesn't matter what ideas are presented, but only if the author has energy and expresses a confident point of view. In contrast, my daughters essays are strategic creations: thesis, developement, restatement/conclusion. It should be pointed out that my daughter only wrote on every other line of the notebook, since this is how she had been trained, leaving room for the evaluator(s) to make corrections and notes. Consequently, her essay was only potentially half as long as others might have been. Superficially her essay was "deficient" in length and "unclear" (subtle: you've got to read it in its entirety).
I told my wife that she really needed to "teach to the test" next time! There's "good writing" and there's "lengthy written overconfident verbage" for the SAT written portion. Style and form win out over substance.
Your list may or not be any good; I didn’t check the other schools on the list, just Berea and that was because I grew up there and went to the school for a while. In the last twenty years, it has become increasingly liberal like many schools. Reading their alumni magazine become, for me, an exercise in anger management.
I think your idea is an excellent one.
After teaching in public schools and college for 45 years, this VDH essay needs to be sent to all 435 House Reps and 100 Senators. The USA is now an ignorant nation which allows such pacifist socialist views as expressed by the Kosites, the DNC, and the MSM to be inculcated without dispute. Perhaps the Second Coming is just around the Bend.
Liberals have been successful in their quest to dumb down the population enough to be controlled.
Saved, Forwarded and a BUMP!
24 ¶ Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:
25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.
26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:
27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.
Our Founding Fathers from over 200 years ago had a better education. Ah, progress...
Let me know if you want in or out.
Links: FR Index of his articles: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/keyword?k=victordavishanson
His website: http://victorhanson.com/
NRO archive: http://www.nationalreview.com/hanson/hanson-archive.asp
Cultural narratives are always complex. Each contain enough truth and history to establish legitimacy among their subscribers. Mutual ignorance abounds between cultures but it is their interpretations of shared historical and contemporary events that determines a culture's durability in conflict. That's really what the war on terror is about isn't it? It's about ending a culture of death, at home and abroad. But we don't know how to do that do we...? Instead we rightly fear that we are fostering it. IMO, propagating a culture of death is best done by dismissing its cult members as ignorant or incompetent, particularly when they are just that. As a result of being spurned by the culture of life - they will assert our irrelevance with more zeal than they assert their own irrelevance. Validation of their culture is equally damaging. In my opinion, there are only two cures for the culture of death:
In Iraq and Afghanistan we are finding the first prescription more difficult than we imagined. That's because we've not played favorites, empowering our enemies and allies alike. Empowering an enemy simply validates their culture - validates their perception of history - validates the culture of death. Empowering your enemies destroys your allies perception of events. Doing so sets your allies adrift on an intellectual road to conspiracy. But then again, what could we expect our allies to make of us when we harbor our own culture of death - made popular by lucrative media deals? Our own political inconsistencies are making the second prescription more likely.
In terms of our own hypocrisies... what could be worse than the Tupac Amaru Shakur Foundation.
Tupac Amaru Shakur was born in the The Bronx in New York City. He was named after Túpac Amaru II, an Incan revolutionary who led a Peruvian uprising against Spain and was subsequently sentenced to death. "Shakur" comes from the Arabic word thankful (to God). His mother, Afeni Shakur, was an active member of the Black Panther Party in New York in the late 1960s and early 1970s; Shakur was born just one month after her acquittal on more than 100 charges of "Conspiracy against the United States government and New York landmarks" in the New York Panther 21 court case. Although officially unconfirmed by the Shakur family, several sources list his birth name as either Parish Lesane Crooks or Lesane Parish Crooks. Afeni supposedly feared her enemies would attack her son, and disguised their relation using a different last name, only to change it three months or a year later, following her marriage to Mutulu Shakur.
On September 7, 1996 at approximately 11:15 p.m., while stopped at the intersection of East Flamingo Road and Koval Lane, Shakur was shot several times in a drive-by shooting. Shakur was struck by four bullets out of the twelve shots that were fired at him; he was hit twice in the chest, and once each in his left arm and thigh. Shakur was later placed on life support until his death six days later, on September 13, 1996, at 4:03 p.m. PDT at the age of twenty-five.