Skip to comments.Professor Gingrich (Former Students evaluate the college course he taught as Speaker)
Posted on 12/13/2011 11:37:59 AM PST by SeekAndFind
In the fall of 1993, 25-year-old Maury Kennedy enrolled in a new course being offered at Kennesaw State University, located 20 miles north of Atlanta. Renewing American Civilization was its title, and its instructor was Newt Gingrich.
Being new to Atlanta, I wanted to make friends, Kennedy remembers, and the ten-week course was a practical option. On Saturdays, he and hundreds of other students would gather in a large auditorium to hear the congressman lecture for two hours. Although Gingrich was a notorious firebrand, nobody dreamed he would become Speaker.
But Kennesaw was a public school, and Gingrichs critics griped that he was mixing academics with politics. In 1994, then, the congressman approached Floyd Falany, president of Reinhardt College a private school in Waleska, Ga. and asked if he could teach the course there.
We had just built a state-of-the-art broadcast center, Falany says, and Gingrich wanted to record his lectures and stream them over the Internet. Falany proposed the idea to the board of trustees, and though the members initially had mixed emotions about it, after debating it for a considerable length of time, they voted unanimously to approve the course.
It was a hit. For a small school that didnt even have a football team, to nab the Speaker of the House of Representatives was a coup. In the winter of 1995, Gingrich gave ten lectures, while an assistant professor, Kathleen Minnix, handled administrative tasks: writing tests, correcting papers, assigning grades. It worked beautifully, Falany says.
Yes, Gingrich caused controversy. His opponents were furious that a college would dignify his pontifications by giving him a course. But Falany shrugged off the complaints. Its not unusual for colleges to have politicians teaching courses, he notes. When Secretary of State Dean Rusk retired in 1969, the University of Georgia hired him to teach a course in international law, despite the fact that he lacked academic credentials.
And Gingrich was nonpartisan, maintains Falany, a registered Democrat. I have a very, very positive remembrance of the course.
But why did Gingrich want to teach a course at the same time as serving as Speaker? Longtime friend Tucker Andersen explains: Part of him was excited about coming up with a course which he thought would have relevance and he would enjoy teaching in an educational setting. The bigger reason, however, was to help him refine and articulate the ideas about the uniqueness of American civilization, which is something he passionately believes in.
A reading of Gingrichs lectures confirms Andersens contention.
In his opening lecture, Gingrich summarized the argument of the course: America is a great country with good people. But from 1965 to 1994 . . . America went off on the wrong track. His purpose was to determine why, in the past, America worked and how, in the future, it could work again. After learning the five pillars of American civilization historic lessons, personal strength, entrepreneurial free enterprise, the spirit of invention and discovery, and quality the class would apply them to four areas: the Information Revolution, the economy, the culture, and citizenship in the 21st century.
He brought the argument to the individual level. To be an American was to have a certain lifestyle a way of being. Every American, therefore, had an obligation to learn how to be an American, how to live that lifestyle. And this course would help them learn how to do that. In other words, it was a high-level freshman-skills course.
As Gingrich unfolded his argument, he displayed his verbal tics. He routinely indulged in superlatives. Alcoholics Anonymous was the single most successful anti-alcoholism operation in the world. The Milliken Company was the most successful textile company in the world. Peter Druckers The Effective Executive was the most important single book on effective citizenship and effective entrepreneurship in the 21st century that has ever been written.
His syllabus was just as eclectic as his lectures: The required reading comprised the Federalist Papers, Alexis de Tocquevilles Democracy in America, Alvin and Heidi Tofflers Creating a New Civilization: The Politics of the Third Wave, Don Eberlys Building a Community of Citizens: Civil Society in the 21st Century, and Druckers The Effective Executive.
He approached his subject with the cataloguing fervor of a taxonomist. Yes, there were the five pillars of American civilization. There were also four layers of planning. And four words of effective leadership. Seven key aspects of personal strength. Three big aspects of entrepreneurship. Seven welfare-state cripplers of progress. (The taxonomical bug infected even his homework assignments: Look at the five most popular sitcoms, and just watch them for two weeks and ask yourself: What were the values I would have learned in those sitcoms?)
Professor Gingrich was self-referential. I have studied history for a long time. I actually know a fair amount, he told his students. But in his defense, his stories about himself were charming. To illustrate his point that your vision and your tactics for achieving that vision must match, he joked: I have a vision of myself as a thinner person. I have two tactics: I eat ice cream, and I drink beer.
But what exactly was his point? This is in the best sense of the old-fashioned word a liberal arts course, Gingrich explained. This is a course of trying to think through life and trying to think through society and trying to think through culture and whichever discipline we need to borrow from for the purpose of the course, well just borrow it. They can sue us later.
Today, Kennedy uses many of the management principles he learned in Gingrichs course. And though he never got involved with Gingrichs political life, he still appreciates his former professor. He so wanted to teach young people what made America a great place, he says. Its part
Has any former student ever evaluated the course Obama taught when he was a lecturer at the University of Chicago?
Oops, last sentence got inadvertedly cut of, here it is:
Its part of the reason I respect the man.
America is a great country with good people. But from 1965 to 1994 . . . America went off on the wrong track.
Gee....doesn’t sound like something a liberal or a progressive would say...especially on the record...and to think, he wanted to help further conservative ideas in academia...the bastard....he had a lot of nerve, trying to unwash those college brains.
Wonder if any of the GDS’ers will comment on this?
I don’t know about an evaluations but I do know that in Tucker Max’s book “Assholes Finish First” he specifically states that he remembers Obama as “the really nice Professor that I played basketball with every afternoon”.
But, it is Tucker Max *shrug*
In the late 90s, one of the cable “University of the Air” channels ran this lecture series - on Sunday afternoons during NFL season... And, yes, I did forego football for 2 hours every Sunday morning to watch it...
The lasting impression I got from it is that he truly believes that there’s a high-tech Government Solution to every one of society’s ills - I spent a lot of time arguing with the TV.. ;)
In the last 5 or 6 years since Obama has been in the national media, has ANYONE, even an arden supporter, ever said this about him?
“Come to think of it...
Has any former student ever evaluated the course Obama taught when he was a lecturer at the University of Chicago”
Exactly my thoughts while reading the article.
Still waiting to hear what Obama said in his "community organizer" meetings. Bet we never hear. Just like everything else, we know nothing. We can certainly guess what was discussed. Let's see, Alinsky, Marx, Cloward-Piven, class warfare, street agitation, corporate shakedowns, anti-capitalist rhetoric. Did I miss anything?
Our Founders thought long and hard to develop a country based on the Constitution. Many people have died protecting and defending the Constitution. I can't help wonder what they would all think of Washington D.C. today. . .
What about Reagan?
“What about Reagan?”
What about him? Did he reverse the cumulative changes? Or do you think that there was NOT much change in that period? I assume Newt was aware of the Reagan efforts...he made some pretty large contributions. I think there’s a good chance he was talking about the massive lurch we’ve taken to the left, don’t you?
Shhhh you are not allowed to ask the Newt Cult tough questions like that.
My other thought was we can dig up students from a class that Gingrich taught 15 years ago but nary a word from any of Øbama students from 15 years ago.
In the last 5 or 6 years since Obama has been in the national media, has ANYONE, even an ardent supporter, ever said this about him?
Reminds me of what Savage once said, "Can anyone name an Obama appointment or organization that hes affiliated himself with that is Pro-American?"
I mean Anita Dunn saying,"I turn to Communist Mao Tse-Tung as my Political Philosopher" just doesn't cut it.
The primaries haven’t even begun and already you’re a sore loser. Grow up.
Not much change under Reagan? He did plenty to change things. That is why I am confused by the obvious omission from the original statement.
“Not much change under Reagan?”
“from 1965 to 1994”
He was referencing the entire time. Poor comprehension skills?
Explain to me what was so much worse from 1981 to 1989 that made 1964 back so much better. In this statement, Newt is arguing that Kennedy was better than Reagan. He goes out of his way to exclude one from criticism and include the other in his point on making America better in the future. That future being 1994 on. How else is that supposed to be "comprehended"?
His purpose was to determine why, in the past, America worked and how, in the future, it could work again.
This statement says that prior to those dates America was great and that he is hoping after those dates that America will return to greatness.
I can’t keep up with what’s been going down
I think my heart must just be slowing down
Among the human beings in their designer jeans
Am I the only one who hears the screams
And the strangled cries of RINO’s in love
Explain to me what was so much worse from 1981 to 1989 that made 1964 back so much better.”
He is referring to the total difference in the leftward shift that occurred in the thirty years from 1964.
You are either stupid or trying to argue. Either way, I don’t care Go away.