Skip to comments.A hidebound reading list for freshmen: colleges promote a predictable ideology.
Posted on 10/03/2010 10:45:50 AM PDT by rhema
Last month, you dropped your college freshman daughter off at school. Chances are, as you toted boxes up the dorm stairs, you noticed bulletin boards "celebrating" diversity and a poster announcing a big diversity bash during "Welcome Week."
Diversity -- of skin color, sexual orientation, etc. -- is all the buzz on American campuses today. But intellectual diversity, the kind that really matters? That's a different story.
Take the "common text" your daughter was assigned to read over the summer. The purpose of this shared reading -- a tradition for freshmen on many campuses -- is to encourage intellectual reflection and to start a campuswide dialogue, say college administrators. This academic year, 93 percent of the top 100 colleges ranked by U.S. News and World Report assigned a common reading, according to the National Association of Scholars (NAS) in Princeton, N.J.
In June, NAS released a study of 290 American colleges with such programs. This fall, the study was updated to include all 314 campuses with common readings -- 184 books in all. The conclusion? Far from being diverse in theme and perspective, these books tend toward lockstep conformity.
You won't see "Moby Dick" or "Hamlet" on the list, or even "The Great Gatsby" -- books that have stood the test of time, and that call students to think seriously about humanity's greatest challenges. Instead, most "common texts" seem intended to advance an ideological agenda -- to nudge young people into viewing the world through a very particular prism.
This fall, for example, many freshmen are arriving at college with "No Impact Man: The Adventures of a Guilty Liberal Who Attempts to Save the Planet" tucked under their arm. Others are being instructed on the evils of capitalism -- the economic system that built our nation's world-class campuses --
(Excerpt) Read more at startribune.com ...
In general, the topics covered are those beloved of the Academic Left: multiculturalism, racism, immigration, environmental issues, animal rights, food production and green politics, along with the Islamic world, women and poverty. Nearly one-third of the books had an African, African-American, Latino or East Asian theme, while only 1.7 percent had a European theme.
This was exactly what happened to me in late August. And I dropped my daughter off at the oldest Catholic university in the U.S.
During the Sunday morning Mass, prayer was requested for the courage to pass comprehensive immigration reform. It was the first time I felt like standing up and booing at a Mass.
Oh, and the summer reading was a book about fundamentalist Islam.
Those Jesuits certainly know how to run a school.
Kids, did you need any more proof that “summer reading” in college is a joke?
There isn’t a business in the country that will be able to hire these ‘intellectuals’ after 4 or 5 or 6 years of ‘studies’.
A reasonable topic to read at a Catholic university ... if it was by Pope Urban II.
But don’t worry, parents! Just keep sending your kids to these indoctrination camps that call themselves colleges.
Don’t even think about how much it costs and what you really get for what you really sweated for.
Besides...YOUR kid’s college, like his public school, is “different.” YOUR kid is not impressionable or likely to fall under the influence of bad teachers or bad companions. And maybe YOUR kid needs a sheepskin on the wall to prove his worth and make his way in the world.
So go ahead. Never mind whose skin will be on that wall, but it might be your grandchildren’s. Or yours!
That’s nothing compared to the crap I had to read at UW-Madison. “One World” by Peter Singer (lets kill humanity), “Night Draws Near” (A story about Iraqis being killed wholesalely by American soldiers), “Race Class and Gender in American Media” (Saying that the LIBERAL media is racist and sexist), arguments about how Howard Dean and Barack Obama were/are too far to the right , ect.
Why don't you? They certainly are not doing God's business.
Why don't you? They certainly are not doing God's business.
Amen! When the Temple was dirtied by those who were not doing God's business Jesus literally went in and kicked the miscreants out of God's Holy Temple. Booing at the sight of such heresy at the very least is something of which Jesus would definitely approve.
Since Plato’s on the list, I’d add Homer’s “The Odyssey”.
Plato wanted to ban it.
“In response, the NAS has compiled a list of worthy alternatives, entitled “Read These Instead: Better Books for Next Year’s Beaches.”
That’s an excellent list! I’ve read many (though sadly, not all) of the suggested books. Things Fall Apart, Augustine’s Confessions, Twain’s Life on the Mississippi, and Candide are some of my all-time faves.
I went to a Methodist church last year (first time in years; last time ever) and the prayer was to “forgive us for making machines that make war on peoples and destroy the environment”.
I said something under my breath and the people next to me looked at me. I was embarrassed and asked their forgiveness after service (after all I went to their church) but during the sermon the pastor said something about how he was left of center and everyone in the congregation knew it. And I did feel like taking him on.
I know exactly how you felt.
Actually, this is good news. Please let me explain.
I’m a high school English teacher. A lot of the crap portrayed as literature isn’t allowed into my classroom, but that’s not the topic of discussion. Here’s what I’ve found with actual students in a real classroom.
The more strident and ideological the teacher and materials, the more disinterested and cynical the student. Once a student understands that all he or she has to do to pass is vomit back the teacher’s prevailing bias, the student has learned an important lesson: the elites are full of bulls**t.
The same thing happened in the old Soviet Union, where students had to mouth Marxist platitudes in order to pass their classes. They become professionals at mindless writing which reflected the accepted ideology of their leaders. In the end, even the teachers knew it was a mirage.
Among my smartest students, the leftist platitudes about race, diversity, gender and political outlook are the source of smirking disrespect. If I had to put a label on it, I’d describe most of my students as libertarians, with a fairly strong representation of social conservatives. Outspoken leftist attitudes remain in the realm of the teachers, where such thinking is considered by students to be a sign that their classroom leader is an old hippie.
Here’s another good sign. Right now I’m taking an online degree program for my master’s degree. The college is located in Chicago. Students are scattered around the country. I’m in Alaska. There’s not a lot of liberal garbage, either - by my choice. I could have gone to the University of Alaska to get the same degree, but they wanted five times as much money and filled their curriculum with leftist ideals. Someone smarter put together an online program which gave me what I wanted, and with far less cost and headache.
There will come a day, soon, when major academic institutions will be in the same boat as the major television networks - that is to say, they’ll be anachronistic institutions that no one cares about and no one uses. Specialty schools, online or with local branches, will replace the large colleges and universities, as people grab the education they need quickly and effectively and then get to work.
By the way, I warn students about the narrowness of thinking at college or university, too. I also have the seniors read Solzhenitsyn in case they didn’t get the message the first time.
Just my two cents.
The majority of students go to STATE colleges and universities, which are, by definition, socialist institutions.
What you see, is what you get.
They take the book of Ecclesiastes to be by King Solomon, judging by the date they assign to it. That is disputed.
I teach English as well. My 9th graders read Anthem. My juniors read the Declaration of Independence and researched natural rights vs positive rights.
It is stupid to try to convince kids that they must serve others. They’re already going to pay for the Stimulus Bill.
So true; that’s why so many ‘intellectuals’ go back into the system! They’re like a computer virus, slowly corrupting available resources to self-replicate.
Or, as someone with better authority put it: “A little leaven corrupteth the whole lump.” Gal. 5:9
Or, in contrast, by One with even greater authority: “And again he said: Whereunto shall I esteem the kingdom of God to be like? It is like leaven, which a woman put into three measures of meal, and it was all leavened.” Luke 13:20-21
Perhaps these Jesuits have confused the inexorable purity of the Kingdom of God with the ephemeral vanity of their own imaginations.
Really? Seth Benardete (author of Bow and Lyre) thought Plato provided a very good foundation for understanding Homer with the numerous Homeric quotes from his dialogues.
Oops, my mistake. Plato wanted to ban “The Iliad”.
College trends ping
If we want to fix our colleges and universities we **MUST** close down the government K-12 institutes of indoctrination. We must get the nation's children into **private**, conservative, and God-centered schools that thoroughly integrate the family's Judeo Christian beliefs and our nation's founding principles into every minute of their school day.
The powers that be won’t shut them down because they serve their purposes too well. People will simply have to stop using them. Scholarships for private school attendance would be a good place to start.
My daughter is an 18 yo college sophmore in the local college. She tells me that the kids are arguing and fighting back at the leftist profs. The kids have had it.
Note to the Minneapolis Star-Trib: There is no such word in English as "Latino" (sic). That's point one.
Two, your state is >90% white American. That means you 90% don't count. So shut up already. Your betters are speaking/talking about you.
Having read that entire page you linked, I would tend to agree. I’ve read some on that list — but to my shame, not all — and it would be good to get busy on a few of those titles.
My 15 year old is in her 5th semester at the local university. A year ago, I had to drop her out of an English Composition class. Her teacher was so leftist my daughter was getting physically ill before going to class. The woman was a nut. She bragged about not taking a salary for teaching, she was that wacko leftist. Thankfully, she’s been the exception.
I would never send my kid to a modern liberal arts college. I would, however, encourage them to enroll in a trade school and learn something usable. Private, Christian schools are good, acceptable alternatives to L/A colleges.
Our sons are in high school, and what you say is consistent with much of what we're experiencing with them. They have been spitting back garbage about global warming for years, but they know it's an act. The same is true of much of the literature they're assigned. The kids are often far more astute than the indoctrinators realize.
What are these college reading lists? When I went to college, there wasn’t any such animal.
You did get a list of books to buy for each course, but that was it.
So what would happen if the college-bound kids simply threw the list into the trash?
And the ending really epitomized the hypocrisy and evil of the Soviets and Communism (but you'd miss it if you didn't pay attention, which is probably why it was allowed to be published in the Soviet Union at the time).
Ivan served a ten-year sentence, according to the book. Oh yes, ten years. This is how it was described.
There were three thousand six hundred and fifty-three days like that in his stretch. From the first clang of the rail to the last clang of the rail.
Three thousand six hundred and fifty-three days.
The three extra days were for leap years.
FYI, ping, as many of you are looking at college.
And that has been happening for a long time. Back in the early '80's, when I was in college, the phys. ed. instructor had us doing all sorts of crazy things - like pretending to paint each other different colors. (I'm serious.) Some things she had us do were interesting, though; for example, one exercise involved each of us taking turns being blindfolded and guided by another student. I went to every class and did whatever "work" we were given. In a way, it was fun wondering what she would have us do the next class. She and her class were the talk of the college.
Then, the very last day, she said everyone needed to answer these questions: (1) Are things better or worse today? And (2) what grade would you give yourself?
Every single student answered "worse" and "I would give myself an A." (Note: Most of them hadn't even come to every class.) When it was my turn, I said "better". I heard the guy behind me whisper: "No, no, just tell her what she wants to hear." I continued, "I think I should be given an A because I came to every class and did all the work."
Her reply: "No, I don't think you've learned anything. You get a D." When I protested, she told me to come to her office the next day.
I went to her office, and she gave me cards to sort. The cards had words such as "happy", "sad", and so on. How was I supposed to sort them? In the way I thought best, of course. So, I sat and pretended to "sort" them. When I was finished, she asked if I'd learned anything now. Realizing she was out of her mind, I said, "Yes, I have." She said, "I think you have, too," and she gave me a higher grade.
How did she keep that job for so long? Well, she'd told us the reason on the first day: The college had tried to fire her, but she sued them for sex discrimination. LOL.
Once students reach college age, they should be able to handle books with different points of view. In college, one of the books assigned in the classes I took was The Communist Manifesto, and I still have the book. We had to write a paper on it. Mine was critical of it, and my paper was given a high grade. Also, reading books about other countries or cultures can be beneficial.
But, there’s a problem when colleges only serve to advance a political ideology, with students being graded based on whether or not their opinions are in line with the ideology. Another objection I have is when porn is paraded as good literature.
That’s interesting. Think about what “conservative” means - careful.
That we teach our children to be liberal and then are aghast that they film themselves using cell phones giving/receiving oral sex, drink excessively, do drugs, etc. is foolish.
The outcome of liberalism is bad decisions, bad thinking. Therefore it is to be expected.
Vygotsky knew this, Glenn Latham taught against it (excellent book: Power of Positive Parenting) and successful people practice its opposite - maturity - self-directedness - self-restraint - thinking ahead, etc.
We’ve forgotten the Law of the Harvest.
Was (is) your daughter homeschooled? Did she attend private or government school?
I’d love to go to college now, at my age. I’d mess with every leftist professor I could, stand up in class and challenge them, and say out loud that I wasn’t going to pay to listen to their BS. Of course at my age, I also wouldn’t give a damn about grades, which would help.
The Great Gatsby is not a great book. It drives me crazy when conservatives cite it as such.
Exactly. I intend for the offspring to develop talents, interests and practical skills in a wide range of areas. Part of our homeschooling aims at unlocking the nature of the child and directing them in their path toward independence and self-reliance. The ultimate practical goal is to unleash young people that get what they need from the system to achieve THEIR goals - not to be processed for a slot in state economy. Business training along with their strong suits may be better in the long run than any kind of B.A. or the usual collegiate BS.
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