How to keep your child from being a spoiled little shit…
Safe spaces! Trigger warnings! Why should we read the great poets of English literature? They’re all white males! Where are the bathrooms for trans-whatever? Why do we have to adhere to the requirements on the syllabus? Why can’t I get special treatment on my grading just this once? I just need this one class to graduate!
Yale University just got the latest “newsworthy” petition from whinging students regarding having the read Chaucer, Shakespeare, Wordsworth, and other “colonial” writers — tired code for whatever grievance studies curriculum is railing about, and which was a tired retread of the socialist dialectic when terrible scholars like Edward Said first trotskyied it out. The administration, in typical form, went mealy-mouthed about how it wasn’t right you have to read Dead Whitey Words but you need to see the history of English lit… The usual prelude to folding like a lawn chair to their students’ demands. They’ll do it with the trans bathroom BS, as well.
Professors and administration have been shocked to find that a generation of childish and undereducated lazy kids, raised on vicitms’ studies ideas in high school and prepetuated by the divisie politics of Progressives, would find the rigors of reading something you don’t like invasive. They shouldn’t be; they created these monstrous little cry-babies.
Since they are at a loss as to how to handle it, here’s a humble but entirely effective soluton to the conundrum (that means “problem”, English Lit majors…you’d know that if you read your assignment last week…)
Send them down.
Kick them out.
Dispense with their bullshit entirely.
Then maybe you should defund the victims studies programs you’ve created, and which do nothing to educate, but only perpetuate themselves by creating more academics capable of teaching “how to bitch about the past.”
This seemed particularly timely in light of the rampant insanity that is going on at the University of Missouri…
The absolute lunacy of allowing alleged young adults — whinging children, really — to demand resignations of faculty for imagined slights (as t Yale), requiring apologies from the administration; for a professor of little note to openly threaten a student reporter with violence at University of Missouri; for black students to concoct an “event” (to be kind) by the Ku Klux Klan on campus (since proved a hoax) — these are all the natural outgrowth of a spoiled, lazy culture, where kids were raised to not have their “feelz” hurt — reality be damned — and made worse by 50 years of academic malfeasance and idiocy, where professors framed every single aspect of human endeavor in the tired dialectic lens of “oprressed-oppressor” making everyone a victim due to the sex, race, heritage, sexuality, and framing it in post-colonial (itself a cheap knock-off of Marxist dialectic, just with imperial power v. colony as the axis of power) narratives where whitey, the Patriarchy™, or straight due are “colonizing” the [enter your favorite cause this week.]
When you push this sort of bullshit into the center of every part of human life, don’t be surprised when it bites you on the ass. Now those spoiled brats you raised to think they were the victim and entitled to having their feelings ensconced in a warm Snuggy of Approval® are finished going after the counter-revolutionaries they think they’ve cowed into submission (just wait ’til you get a real job, Sunshine!), so they’re feasting on the insufficiently enthusiastic members of their own tribe.
From Reason Magazine:
Jeffery Till has an excellent piece over at Liberty.me regarding the current, burgeoning issue of college students and graduates who have gone to school for useless degrees and crushing debt.
This is becoming a common story with students and college. They go automatically. They sign up for ridiculous debt that will cripple their livelihood for decades. They don’t get the job they think they are going to get. And many have wasted their time while there.
It would be simple to say to one of these grads “Wow. Look at that terrible, stupid decision you made.”
And if it were something else besides college, people would be saying it. If an 18 year old went into debt to buy a $100,000 car that didn’t work, one might want to call them stupid, especially if they didn’t think it through at all.
But maybe we should look at them as victims.
Did they make a stupid decision..? If you went for math, or an applied science, no — you most likely, even with a BS, have a shot are a pretty good income with a reasonable debt ratio. (A good rule of thumb, kids, is not more than half of what you expect to earn annually…) But for those that took a Ph.D. in history (like yours truly) and racked up over $50,000 in debt — yes, you screwed up. You made a decision only slightly worse than that expensive tattoo you got ’cause it “really is an expression of my [enter stupid sentiment]…”
One of the main issues, Till shows us, is not just that the students made bad decisions regarding their education, but were almost powerless not to. From the moment you squirt out into life, parents are often badgering their kids to go to school. (Well, since the 1950s, and only those that understand an education can be worth something…) The schools push you to it — go to college, you’ll get a good job. The politicians push it, especially now that the government is the main beneficiary of your student loan interest. The banks pushed it for the same reason. The universities and colleges are desperate for the government cheese that comes with students, and they don’t much care if your succeed or fail, and will often stall your graduate studies the best they can, to wring every last dime out of Uncle Sam and your lender…all while decrying private, profit school for doing the same bloody thing.
He points out, rightly, I think, that much of your early life the need to make good decisions, to take responsibility for your actions, is mostly removed from kids in the developed world. You don’t decide if or when to study or do your homework. (Unless you’re a rebel, then more power to ya!) You don’t choose what you study until maybe that elective or two in high school. You’re unlikely to have learned how to read a stock page, or how compound interest works, or that there’s no money fairy that swoops into your parents’ room at night to provide a never ending source of cash for your video game subscriptions. There’s no learning how to manage your time to do what you need to to succeed in school.
So before you start looking at that Ivy League school ” ’cause it’s the best, dude!”, you might want to consider if you are 1) ready for the responsibility of self-motivation, 2) you know what the hell you want to do for your life (then have a plan B, because Plan A isn’t going to survive contact with real life…), 3) you really understand the burden of debt and how badly humped you will be if you take on too much. The banks are protected by the government; you cannot discharge the debt other than paying it off or going into indentured servitude to the government through military service or service in underprivileged areas (and the latter only pays off some of the debt. Oh, and it’s taxable income.)
Mark Bauerlein of Emory’s English department has an interesting piece in The New York Times, entitled “What’s the Point of a Professor?”, but interesting not necessarily for the reasons he might have intended… In it, Bauerlein — rightly, I think — decries the lack of engagement between student and professor, and how that paucity of contact could reduce the impact the instructor has on their students.
However, the rest of the piece shows how academics misunderstand their position, and the product which they are providing. That last comment will immediately bring an emotional response from professors, I’m sure: “We’re not providing a product! We provide knowledge and wisdom!” Here’s Bauerlein:
When college is more about career than ideas, when paycheck matters more than wisdom, the role of professors changes. We may be 50-year-olds at the front of the room with decades of reading, writing, travel, archives or labs under our belts, with 80 courses taught, but students don’t lie in bed mulling over what we said. They have no urge to become disciples…
…most undergraduates never know that stage of development when a learned mind enthralled them and they progressed toward a fuller identity through admiration of and struggle with a role model…
You can’t become a moral authority if you rarely challenge students in class and engage them beyond it.
A quick look over the anecdotes about how professors changed, enriched, or “progressed” the minds of students shows something…they’re all academics. What Bauerlein misses, and academics have missed since the GI Bill rolled out, is that college has been — to the majority of people — an exercise in certification, not sitting at the knee of the “Great Man” and taking on his wisdom. Careers and paychecks, for those people outside of the coddled cloister of tenure, where you “live in a world of ideas”, is absolutely more important than ideas and wisdom. You can’t eat ideas. Wisdom doesn’t keep you warm on a cold night.
Moreover, the explosion of access to knowledge via the internet — this age’s printing press — allows those who just want to know, who want wisdom, to look for it without an interlocutor. Just as the printing press allowed the layman access to the word of God without the intervening opinion of a priest, the internet allows the curious skeptic the opportunity to trawl through most of humanity’s knowledge without the political framework of the professor. They can make their own context; they don’t need yours.
Worse is the idea that academia, of which I have been a part — on and off — for fifteen years, has real wisdom to impart! Look at the quote: decades of reading and writing, travel (usually to very nice, safe sections of the locales they go to), archive and labs… When your wisdom comes solely from a book, when you have no real need to engage with everyday economics, you don’t have to make a payroll, you don’t have to help build a small hospital in a rural location, you never had to jump out of an airplane so people could shoot at you in some awful part of the world, never had to learn a trade…what the fuck do you have to offer the average person that comes to college to grab a bachelor’s degree so they can get a management position in a small company?
If someone is going into business, do you think your well-read but completely inexperienced critique of capitalism is going to enrich them? (They do…that was rhetorical.) Are the poems of Wordsworth and a basic overview of Buddhism going to help a guy troubleshoot your network, or do a tactical reload while under fire from some soldier who wants you dead? No.
This “wisdom” is the purview of the wannabe elite, sheltered from real work, competition, expectations of performance, or the hard edges of the world. They might see this from a remove, but they are hardly in it. Theirs is the wisdom of the observer, not the doer. Their complaints are those of the monopolist whose product is no longer the only one on the market.
That said, his critique of grade inflation is certainly valid. Professors who feel the need to conform to students’ demands of better grades do not provide a better product by making things easier on their clients. Expectations of quality are still essential to providing a degree, a certification, that are actually worth something. By lowering standards, you debase your product, which in turn lowers the demand for what you are selling. The steady decline over the last few years in college enrollment is a symptom of this — there are now so many people with degrees that have little utility to their employers, and these students have been allowed to perform at substandard levels, that a college degree now has a higher cost than benefit for many people (outside of technical and science-related degrees, of course.)
Engaging with one’s students shouldn’t be an exercise in self-aggrandizement, but rather customer service, an attempt to suss out what it is the student needs. Is a bachelor’s in psychology or philosophy really advantageous to the student? Might they be better suited in a vocational program, or perhaps another area of academia? Maybe school isn’t really what they need. No matter what the academics might wish their position to be, they are service providers who must meet the demands of their clientele.
That’s what the real world looks like.