Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

What our students learn at those pricey university

Were you wondering what your son or daughter is learning at that $30,000 a year university. A great article about the resurgence of conservative student life at American colleges and universities points out that these conservative students are rebelling against, not only the faculty's oft-expressed leftist views, but also against the utter nonsense they are being taught:

The leftism that so angers these students includes the hey-ho-Western-civ-has-got-to-go theories that inform college courses from coast to coast. “In too many classrooms,” says former Reagan education secretary William Bennett, “radical professors teach their students that Western thought is suspect, that Enlightenment ideals are inherently oppressive, and that the basic principles of the American founding are not ‘relevant’ to our time.” College course catalogs often read like satires. Want to study English lit at, say, Penn? Freshmen take introductory classes like “Secrecy and Sexuality in the Modern Novel,” taught by—no joke—Heather Love. In the course description, Dr. Love explains that “many of the books that we consider ‘great literature’ ”—the obligatory postmodern scare quotes signaling the supposed absurdity of the idea of aesthetic quality—“are noted as much for what they don’t say as for what they do.” Deconstructing Herman Melville and other dead white males, Dr. Love promises to uncover “what, if anything, they are hiding” about homosexuality, pederasty, and incest. That’s for first-year students. Dr. Love’s upper-level course “Theories of Gender and Sexuality” focuses on “reproductive rights; pornography, ‘sex work’ [prostitution in human-speak], and free speech; . . . and transgender activism,” among other themes that seem to have zilch to do with English lit. Other English majors get to explore “postcolonial literature” with Professor Cynthia Port, who relies on radical authors Edward Said and Frantz Fanon to “revise imperial narratives, challenge assumptions about identity and otherness, and scrutinize the politics of language.” Want to learn history at Brown? “Europe from Rome to the Eighteenth Century,” taught by Professor Amy Remensnyder, will chart “the complex divisions” of various groups within European societies “according to gender, class, and ethnicity,” the holy trinity of postmodern intellectuals. “In the end,” says William Bennett, “the central problem is not that the majority of students are being indoctrinated (although some are) but that they graduate knowing almost nothing at all. Or worse still, they graduate thinking that they know everything.” A student, conservative or otherwise, who doesn’t buy into the West-is-the-worst line can “have an awful time of it,” says Harvard junior Jordan Hylden. “It is quite difficult in fields like literature, anthropology, the social sciences, and even religion to even be informed,” he complains. “It’s like an ivory echo chamber, where only the ‘right’—subversive, anti-Western—ideas get a hearing.” Small wonder that enrollments in such fields have plummeted. The percentage of undergrad degrees in the humanities, nearly 21 percent in the mid-sixties, fell to 12 percent or so by the nineties and has never climbed back up.
Read the whole interesting article here.