Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

I’m sorry to keep quoting Camille Paglia, but I can’t help it sometimes (in fact, let me take it back, I’m not sorry at all, this stuff is too good to ignore). In her recent column, Camille responds to a number of letters from readers. There’s a lot of good stuff here but the response below was to a letter expressing outrage over the attacks on Sarah Palin and how insulting the media has been toward her because she attended five colleges before graduating from the University of Idaho. Here’s CP’s response:

Thank you very much for your personal testimony. I too have been repulsed by the elitist insults flung at Sarah Palin in the massive, coordinated media effort to destroy her. Hence I have been thoroughly enjoying the way that Palin, despite all the dirt thrown at her by liberal journalists and bloggers, keeps bouncing back as if unscathed. No sooner did the gloating harpies of the Northeastern media think they had torn her to shreds than she exploded into number one on Amazon.com with a memoir that hadn’t even been printed yet! With each one of these amusing triumphs, Palin is solidifying her status as a bona fide American cultural heroine.

Yes, the snobbery about Palin’s five colleges is especially distasteful, given the Democratic party’s supposed allegiance to populism. Judging by the increasingly limited cultural and factual knowledge of graduates of elite schools whom one encounters working in the media, blue-chip sheepskins aren’t worth the parchment they’re printed on these days. Young people forced through the ruthlessly competitive college admissions rat race have the independence and creativity pinched right out of them. Proof? Where are the major young American artists, writers, critics or movie-makers of the past 20 years? The most adventurous and enterprising minds have gone into high tech. We’re in a horrendous cultural vacuum because our status-besotted education industry is geared toward producing not original thinkers but docile creatures of the system.

Oh, and one more, this regarding the nefarious Roman Polanski and his arrest for drugging and seducing a 13 year-old girl:

When I first heard that Roman Polanski had been arrested in Switzerland, I thought it was absurd because of his advanced age as well as the gravity of other issues facing this war-torn world. It seemed like a publicity stunt by Los Angeles authorities with too much time on their hands. However, on reflection, I soon concluded that Polanski, whatever his artistic achievements, has no right to claim exemption from the law’s demands. He is not a political refugee but a proud sybarite who has flaunted his tastes and conquests. If you live like the Marquis de Sade (one of the principal influences on my first book, Sexual Personae), then you should be willing to be imprisoned like Sade.

yes indeed. Nail blasted by hammer on head.

Read Full Post »

A friend pointed me to this article which is Professor Thomas Bertanneau’s depressing analysis of the “scholars” who are presently taking up space in our colleges and universities. I’ve seen this sort of thing firsthand but I’ve been hoping that what I was seeing was not widespread. Unfortunately, it appears that it is.

Here’s the author’s conclusion regarding the future we’ve made for ourselves:

“I see in the resentful incapacity of so many students a not-so-dim “Shape of Things to Come” whose characteristics will be theirs: perceptive obtuseness, expressive coarseness, extreme limitation of language and therefore also of concept, radical unfitness to judge complicated technical or moral problems, complete disconnection from any meaningful past and, to borrow a term from Oswald Spengler, in a condition utterly “historyless.”

The world soon to be dominated by such people (their world is already rapidly consolidating itself around us) will be awkward and ham-fisted; it will respond slowly and in all likelihood badly to the complicated problems that will impose their contingency on it. Petulance will characterize it universally: people who find it hard to think straight or to sort out complexities will balk at doing so and become adept at finding reasons for ignoring urgent social, moral, and political challenges. They will be even more amenable than many people already are to pandering, “magical” solutions to emergencies offered by cynical politicians who are interested solely in re-election.

Secretly aware of their limitations, they will also be susceptible to flattery designed to boost their all-important self-esteem. The level of commercial culture will descend even further than it already has to placate the taste of people who have rejected humane education and who do not really understand adult issues. As a student wrote in response to Iphigenia by Euripides, getting the tragedian’s message exactly backwards, people “must trust their leaders and things will be fine in the end.” Many older, genuinely educated people surviving into this not-too-distant future will find the new world infantile and exasperating.

William James wrote that the role of the intellect is to resolve into a comprehensible image the raw perceptual blur of reality. When the educational system rejects cultivating intellect as its primary goal and dedicates itself instead to fostering feelings, opinions, and baseless pride, it will discharge at the end of twelve years young people for whom the Jamesian “buzz” of phenomena cannot resolve into a comprehensible image. I mean to argue, in citing the student passages given above, much more than that contemporary undergraduates are poorly educated and lazy, even though they are those things in spades. I mean to argue that a deficient but entrenched pedagogy based on “progressive” theories of education has betrayed students by refusing to grant them the dignified status of real mentality, of adult awareness, and of literate sensibility.”

Now, explain to me again why you oppose Christian classical education?

Read Full Post »

I’m going to make Mondays my “Flannery Day” — Duane says it’s ok with him — so here goes. Flannery was not bashful about expressing her opinions (especially in letters to friends). If you haven’t read her letters (published as The Habit of Being) you are missing a great treat. Here are a some of observations on education and learning:

“Everywhere I go I’m asked if I think the university stifles writers. My opinion is that they don’t stifle enough of them. There’s many a bestseller that could have been prevented by a good teacher.”

“Anybody who has survived his childhood has enough information about life to last him the rest of his days.”

“The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.”

Academic degrees meant little to her. In 1962, she received an honorary doctorate from the University of Notre Dame’s St. Mary’s College. She wrote to a friend, “My degree hasn’t done a thing for me so far, it hasn’t increased my self-confidence or improved my personality or anything I expected it to do. The local wags have already got tired of calling me ‘Doctor.’ Regina [her mother] wrapped the hood up in newspaper and put it away and unless I wear it Halloween, I guess it’ll stay there.”

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: