Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

English professor decries the radicalization of the liberal arts on campus

From Pajamas Media, a post by a Canadian English professor at the University of Ottawa.

Excerpt:

When I finally landed a tenure-track position at a Canadian university, I was ecstatic and full of hope — exhilarated by the opportunity to teach students about literature and ideas and to have conversations with colleagues equally in love with literature and ideas. I didn’t realize that my experience as a university teacher of English would have much less to do with these passions than with the distortion of the university’s core mission in the name of pedagogical and political orthodoxy.

To begin with, the student writing that came across my desk left me aghast. I had taught before, but I was unprepared for the level of illiteracy, the stunted vocabularies, near-complete absence of historical knowledge, and above all the extraordinary apathy of many English majors. The most basic of expression rules — the difference between it’s and its, the incorrectness of “would of” for “would have,” the role of the apostrophe or semi-colon, the fact that “a lot” was two words — were beyond the grasp of the majority, no matter how often I reviewed grammar or devised mnemonic devices. And the sheer sloppiness and muddled thinking in the essays, where the titles of poems and authors’ names were frequently misspelled and dates were wildly inaccurate, suggested a fundamental indifference to the subject matter.

Not only was my students’ writing appalling, but I soon encountered their resentment at being told about it. “Who are you to tell me I can’t write?” was the attitude — once expressed in those very words. More than one student insisted that her other teachers had always rewarded her with high marks for her “creativity.” Most believed themselves more than competent. After sitting with one young woman explaining the cause of her failing grade, I was befuddled when her only response was a sullen: “This doesn’t exactly make me feel good.” When I responded that my job was not to make her feel good, she stood haughtily, picked up her paper with an air of injury, and left my office without another word. In her mind, I later realized, I had been unforgivably cruel.

I was up against it: the attitude of entitlement rampant amongst university students and nurtured by the utopian ideology that permeates modern pedagogy, in which the imposition of rules and identification of errors are thought to limit student creativity and the fostering of a hollow self-esteem takes precedence over the building of skills on which genuine self-respect might be established. In the Humanities subjects in particular — and in English especially, the discipline I know best — such a philosophy has led to a perilous watering down of course content, with self-validation seen as more important than the mastery of specific knowledge.

With this philosophy has come a steady grade inflation. The majority of students in English courses today can expect a B grade or higher merely for warming a seat and handing in assignments on time. The result, as I soon discovered, was a generation of students so accustomed to being praised for their work that when I told them it was inadequate, they simply could not or would not believe me. They seemed very nearly unteachable: lacking not only the essential skills but also the personal gumption to respond adequately to criticism.

I wonder what will happen when these students find out that the jobs they feel they are entitled to have have been shipped off to some country where young people don’t have all of this attitude, and where business owners pay a corporate tax rate less than half of what American businesses pay. My guess is that they will blame the very capitalists who warned them not to do what they did.

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Mitt Romney’s pandering to Puerto Rico shows that he will say anything to win

From the Weekly Standard.

Excerpt:

CNN has projected that Mitt Romney will win Sunday’s primary in Puerto Rico, and Romney will most likely receive all 20 of Puerto Rico’s delegates. Romney had the support of Puerto Rico’s Republican governor, Luis Fortuño, and was expected to win handily.

But Robert G. de Posada, the former president of the conservative Latino Coalition, has an op-ed at the Daily Caller charging that Romney “sold out his conservative principles” in order to win big in the Caribbean territory. De Posada points out that Congress has often required territories with large non-English speaking populations to agree to use English officially within government and in schools before allowing those territories to achieve statehood. Romney, he says, pandered to pro-statehood sentiments in Puerto Rico while ignoring this precedent as well as his own position back on the mainland:

On Thursday, Romney called a radio station in San Juan (Noti-Uno) for an interview with a local reporter. When asked if he would support requiring that English became the principal language of government as part of a petition for statehood, Romney said no. When asked if he thought the legislature should have English as the principal language, once again Romney said no. He even opposed requiring English in the courts and public schools.

In Louisiana and Alabama, Mitt Romney is for English as the official language of the United States. In 2008, when Romney sought the GOP nomination, he was upfront about his opposition to bilingual education and his support for ending it in Massachusetts. But in Puerto Rico, he is a strong advocate of bilingualism and opposes requiring the state to make English the principal language of the legislature, courts and public schools. This only makes sense in the Romney World of Flip Flops.

But Romney took it a step further. He stated that a simple majority of 50% + 1 was enough for him to aggressively support statehood for Puerto Rico. As Rick Santorum said during his trip to Puerto Rico, “We need a significant majority supporting statehood before it’s considered. Why would we want a state where nearly half of its residents do not want to be part of the Union?”

Santorum should be commended for staying true to his conservative principles even when it was not politically convenient. Santorum could have pandered to the pro-statehood governor of Puerto Rico in order to get the 20 delegates at stake, but instead the former senator spoke the truth and told Puerto Rican voters a reality they needed to hear. Immediately after, Romney’s campaign started attacking Santorum and maliciously twisting his comments, telling voters that the former senator was advocating “English-only” and was against Spanish.

In contrast to what the Romney campaign said, Santorum Puerto Rico would have to stress English in addition to Spanish, before getting statehood.

Excerpt:

Rick Santorum Wednesday became the first Republican presidential hopeful in this election to visit Puerto Rico before the island commonwealth’s Sunday primary, taking a controversial stand on statehood that he was forced to defend this morning after losing a key supporter.

[...]“What I said is English has to be learned as a language and this has to be a country where English is widely spoken and used, yes,” Santorum told reporters, stating that the use of English should be a “condition” if Puerto Rico is to become a state. The island, he said, “needs to be a bilingual country, not just a Spanish speaking country.”

“I think English and Spanish – obviously Spanish is going to be spoken here on the island – but this needs to be a bilingual country, not just a Spanish-speaking country, and right now it is overwhelmingly just Spanish speaking. But it needs to have, in order to fully integrate into American society, English has to be a language that is spoken here also and spoken universally,” Santorum explained.

“I think that would be a condition. I think it’s important. And I think if you talk to most parents, they want their children to learn English. It is essential for children in America to be able to speak English to fully integrate and have full opportunities,” he added. “I don’t think we’re doing any more than, you know, people who come to America on the mainland. We’re not doing them any favors by not teaching them English.

There is a clear contrast between these two men: Mitt Romney is not a good man. He just says what people want to hear in order to win, and then when elected he will govern like a pro-abortion, pro-gay-marriage, tax-and-spend liberal – that’s what he did in Massachusetts.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , ,

What should you study to prepare yourself for a career?

Here’s an interesting post from the Chapman Kids blog. The father is a software engineer like me, and he’s serious and intentional about how he is leading his children.

In a recent post, he talks about one of the adventures that the two kids are having with a community college professor of English writing. The post is entitled “Continued conversation with the kid’s commie teacher”.

He writes:

As many already know, Kelly and Christian take a “writing” class at the community college where the dear leader of the class lectures on the evils of all things Christian, the beauty of communism and atheism, and the righteousness of drug legalization and abortion.  Today’s topic was Christianity.

[...]At the point when he made the claim that Adam and Eve could not have existed because of the scientific evidence for evolution, Christian raised his hand and said, “There is just as much scientific evidence against macroevolution as there is for it.”

“You don’t believe in evolution!” exclaimed the professor incredulously with a look of disdain and horror.

“We DO believe in microevolution.  It is grossly arrogant for you NOT to question your own beliefs when it comes to evolution” said Kelly.  “That is what you are demanding from us.”

The professor said, “Evolution is established scientific fact” and used several of the standard canards (fossil record, etc.) to establish his point.

Then they were off to the races.  Fortunately, during homeschool, Christian and Kelly had read books like The Victory of Reason:  How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success by Rodney Stark, Understanding Intelligent Design:  Everything You Need to Know in Plain Language by William Dembski and Sean McDowell, Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions by Greg Koukl, and Intellectuals by Paul Johnson.  The professor was armed with shibboleths about the truth of macroevolution and quotes from John Shelby Spong about the virgin birth.  John Shelby Spong!?!!  You have to be WILDLY out of touch with both current scholarship and reality if you quote John Shelby Spong about virtually anything.  He quotes the likes of losers like Noam Chomsky and Bertrand Russell, too.

I tweeted Kelly a link to the William Lane Craig vs John Shelby Spong. Here is part 1 and part 2 of that debate on Youtube. It’s worth watching if you haven’t seen it before.

Mr. Chapman continues his post:

It is frustrating.  Here is a writing a professor who fervently believes he is making students question their beliefs through these profoundly silly arguments.  The subject matter is objectionable, but this guy’s incompetence is even more objectionable.  He does not appear to understand the difference between scientific method and historic method (very important in discussion of the resurrection).  Neither does he understand that it is impossible to argue for the primacy of scientific method without consideration of its philosophical underpinings.  I guess I should be grateful he is incompetent with respect to his arguments–he does nothing to get the kids to question their faith or worldview.  Still, a lot of taxpayer money is wasted on professors like this throughout the land.

Well, the kids have to learn how to write, but I think it is important to note English classes are especially politicized. There is an awful lot of ideology in English classes, because that’s the easiest place for people who want to teach to go if they want to avoid being corrected by real life. In English, and other similar areas, it’s easier for a teacher to go on and on about their ideas without have to test them against the real world. It’s the easiest subject for teachers to force students to agree with your ideology without allowing them to be able to bring in facts to disagree. Basically, a secular lefty teacher can always find literature (usually modern literature, blech!) that casts Christians as brutes, Christian moral standards as outdated and harmful, and non-Christian behavior as praiseworthy. Because literature is necessarily made-up – it’s just opinion.

Even someone like me who gets courting and chivalry guidance from Shakespeare and Austen is cautious about taking courses in literature. Plus, you can can get into a lot of trouble for disagreeing with the teacher. I took English electives during my undergraduate degree and they do grade you on your viewpoint, something which is much harder for them to do in math, science, physics, chemistry, etc.

Another post from Mr. Chapman discusses how children should study STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) topics, even if those children intend to work in a non-STEM field.

He writes:

I found a great article in the Wall Street Journal this morning titled Generation Jobless:  Students Pick Easier Majors Despite Less Pay.  It had some startling statistics:

Workers who majored in psychology have median earnings that are $38,000 below those of computer engineering majors, according to an analysis of U.S. Census data by Georgetown University.

Wow.  The article tells a story about a student who switched from Electrical and Computer Engineering because her team stayed up past midnight in a lab to write a soda machine program.  They could not get it to work, so to keep from getting a bad grade, she withdrew from the course.  Then she switched from engineering to a double major in psychology and policy management.  Her grades went from B’s and C’s to A’s.  She said her high school did not prepare her for the rigor of an engineering degree.

So the upshot is that she is willing to work in a low-paying career for the rest of her life because she was unwilling to do what was necessary to pass a few hard classes.  I have had this discussion with people before.  If you cannot handle a specifc course, you can do a TON of things to make it happen. You can get a tutor.  You can take the class two or even three times if needed.  You can take a more remedial course, then try the tough one again.  Is it worth it to go to school for a year or two more to do something you like and that pays well for the next forty or fifty year?  It seems like a no brainer.

The crazy part is that even for those who want to do less technical jobs, it is best to prepare for that non-technical job with a hard degree.

Research has shown that graduating with these majors provides a good foundation not just for so-called STEM jobs, or those in the science, technology, engineering, and math fields, but a whole range of industries where earnings expectations are high. Business, finance and consulting firms, as well as most health-care professions, are keen to hire those who bring quantitative skills and can help them stay competitive.

We joked about this quite a bit, but I wanted to get it into the kids head that, if they went to college (not necessarily a given–preparation for many careers–pilot, electrician, writer, and small business owner are monumentally better served through some type of preparation other than college), they could study their passion, but they needed to start with a rigorous degree.  We defined rigorous as anything that involves hard math.  The use of hard math and statistics is creating new breakthroughs in a lot of fields right now:  medicine, agriculture, sociology, etc., etc. etc.

I agree with Mr. Chapman. And I think that he is definitely going to raise successful, influential Christians, because he and the children are well prepared and engaged. He has a great relationship with his kids. They are definitely more advanced than I was when I was their age. It’s encouraging to me to see a Christian Dad who is focused and purposeful about having solid relationships with his kids, and preparing them for the dangerous world they are entering as adults. I think it’s important to admire the people who are getting it right (the parents and the kids together) and learn from their successes. I like that he is still involved with what his children are learning even after they are finished with high school.

I really do think that engineers make the best husbands and fathers. Engineers learn how to gather requirements, evaluate alternative solutions, and then implement. Engineers care about designing to support expandability, maintenance, security and unexpected emergencies. They are easy to argue with, because they believe in logic and evidence. They are pragmatic – they make decisions based on what works, not what sounds good or feels good. Good engineers also have training in project management, budgeting, leadership and resource management, too. The best engineers are the entrepreneurs, who understand business, economics, business law and politics. It really is an ideal skill set for marriage and parenting. Engineers try to build things, and those building skills can be re-used to build a family.

Filed under: Mentoring, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Democrats will push amnesty to give 12-20 million illegal aliens citizenship

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano made the announcement.

Story from the Wall Street Journal.

Excerpt:

One of the toughest issues is likely to be what to do about millions of illegal immigrants already in the U.S. Ms. Napolitano called for a “tough and fair pathway to earned legal status,” including “registering, paying a fine, passing a criminal background check, fully paying all taxes and learning English.”

Not included in her list was a requirement that illegal immigrants leave the country, and re-apply for legal entry. In 2007, many members of Congress said they couldn’t support a program of mass legalization in the face of opposition from constituents and activist groups critical of easing the road to legal immigration for those who had already violated the law.

Lamar Smith (R-TX), the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, voiced concern in a statement Friday about Ms. Napolitano’s proposals. “How can they allow 12 million illegal immigrants to take jobs that should go to citizens and legal immigrants?” he said.

Why do people oppose illegal immigration?

Consider this article posted at the Heritage Foundation by Congressman Lamar Smith.

Excerpt:

Today, anywhere from 12 million to 20 million illegal immigrants are in the U.S.–enough to populate America’s three largest cities, New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago. Half a million more enter illegally every year.

Those who would do us harm respect no borders. For instance, four of the 19 terrorists who attacked us on September 11, 2001, were in the country illegally. Border security equals national security.

Illegal immigrants also depress wages and often take the jobs of legal workers. According to the Center for Immigration Studies, low-skilled workers lose an average of $1,800 a year because of competition from illegal immigrants for their jobs. That’s a huge economic hit.

The highest unemployment rates among Americans are in the occupations with the highest number of illegal immigrants. Almost one-quarter of all African-Americans and 40 percent of all Hispanics do not have a high school degree. These low-skilled legal workers are the victims of porous borders.

Some say there are jobs Americans won’t do. But that demeans Americans who work hard in every occupation. Any honest job is a worthy job.

There is another cost to illegal immigration besides lower wages and lost jobs. Communities and taxpayers pay the bills for their education, health care, and government benefits. Overcrowded classrooms, long waits at hospital emergency rooms, and expensive government services result from a failure to secure our borders.

In California alone, hospitals spend over $1 billion a year on health care for illegal immigrants. And the National Research Council has found that an immigrant with less than a high school education will, over his or her lifetime, impose a cost on taxpayers of $89,000. It is unfair to force legal residents and taxpayers to continue to pick up the tab.

Some say the taxes illegal immigrants pay offset the costs of providing them education, health care, and government benefits. But, at their low wages, most illegal immigrants don’t even pay taxes. And when they do, their taxes don’t cover other government services, like maintaining highways, providing for our national defense, and taking care of the needy and elderly.

Also, at their wages, if illegal immigrants participate in Social Security, they will get back $100,000 more than they pay in, further bankrupting the system for everyone else. The cost of illegal immigration is staggering. And it is growing by the minute.

Gateway Pundit comments on what Democrats stand to gain from pushing through another amnesty. I feel badly for all the skilled immigrants who play by the rules and have to wait for years and pay thousands of dollars for green card processing fees. My understanding is that you can only apply for a green card through marriage or employment, and employers almost never sponsor workers due to Department of Labor regulations. I am for increasing legal immigration of skilled immigrants who work hard and play by the rules.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Is illegal immigration helping to drive California bankrupt?

Story from the extremely left-wing LA Times. (H/T  commenter ECM)

Excerpt:

The largest costs to California’s budget from its illegal residents are in three areas:

* Education: The state has no official count of how many students are in the country illegally because school districts do not ask. But the state legislative analyst estimated, based on data from the Pew Hispanic Center, that the state’s 6.3 million public school students include about 300,000 illegal residents. At an annual cost of about $7,626 each, the total comes to nearly $2.3 billion.

* Prisons: In fiscal year 2009-10, California expects to spend about $834 million to incarcerate 19,000 illegal immigrants in the state’s prisons. In Los Angeles County, illegal immigrants add between $370 million and $550 million annually to criminal justice costs, including prosecution, defense, probation and jails, according to Supervisor Mike Antonovich.

* Healthcare: The expected state tab for healthcare in fiscal 2009-10 is $703 million for as many as 780,000 illegal immigrants. Of that, $486 million goes to emergency services. But low-income illegal residents are also eligible for some nonemergency health services, including prenatal and postpartum care, abortions, breast and cervical cancer treatment and certain types of long-term care, such as stays in nursing homes. Most of the nonemergency care for illegal immigrants was authorized by the Legislature in the 1980s.

The story was linked by Fausta’s blog and Fausta noted this:

In addition, the article states that 48,000 children in families headed by illegal immigrants receive a monthly average of $472.

Compassion sounds so wonderful until you have to pay for it during a recession. I am in favor of increased legal immigration and work permits. Anyone who can find a job, learn English and American civics, obey the law, and pay for their own education and health care for 5 years should get a green card. But there should be no pathway to a green card ever for anyone who entered the country illegally at any time.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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