Tuesday, September 26, 2006


College students returning to campus find a familiar scene: closet-size dorm rooms, frat parties, and questionable food in the school cafeteria. But on some campuses something is missing this year: men’s sports teams. Students returning to Rutgers University will find that over the summer the university cut six teams: men’s heavyweight and lightweight crew, men’s and women’s fencing, men’s swimming and men’s tennis. Why did men’s athletics take the brunt of what university officials characterize as a necessary cost-cutting exercise? Title IX.

An Associated Press article explained, “Rutgers’ commitment to Title IX guidelines forced it to eliminate more men’s programs. The current female-to-male ratio at the university is 51 to 49 percent, [Rutgers athletic director, Robert] Mulcahy said, adding that the opportunities for women in sports must be within 2 percent of that ratio to comply with Title IX. ‘That means almost all the cuts have to be in men's programs.’”

Title IX was intended to prevent sex discrimination on college campuses, including in athletics. But this well-intentioned law has become a death sentence for many male teams. Colleges and universities see Title IX as a numbers game: The surefire way to avoid costly lawsuits is to have the portion of female athletes mirror female enrollment. Since college women outnumber men, many universities need more female than male athletes. The problem, of course, is that women generally aren’t as interested in sports as men are. This obvious, but somehow controversial, fact is seen in participation in recreational leagues, which are open to all comers, but are predominately male. Men also watch more sports and expressed a greater interest in athletic participation.

Unfortunately, common sense doesn’t cut it for litigation-fearing universities. Last year, in an attempt to stop schools from sacrificing men’s teams at Title IX’s altar, the Department of Education provided guidance on how universities can avoid the numbers game and still comply with Title IX: A thorough survey of student interest can be used to demonstrate that universities are meeting the demand from would-be women athletes. Gender warriors protested the potential use of surveys. They like the numbers game and don’t care about its consequences for male athletes. Universities—perhaps reticent to provoke the ire of the radical feminists that champion Title IX—have hesitated to use surveys and instead try to make the numbers add up.

Universities have two potential strategies: they can try to increase female participation or reduce the number of male athletes. When faced with a tight budget or when unable to turn out more female athletes, universities often eliminate male teams. Rutgers is just the most recent example. Last year, Fresno State eliminated men’s wrestling despite a pledge from alumni to completely fund the team. UCLA cut men’s swimming and gymnastics, teams which had produced more U.S. Olympians in their respective sports than any other school in the country. In recent years, more than ninety universities have eliminated men’s track and field, and more than twenty have cancelled wrestling.

Do men really have such an advantage on campus to justify so many cuts to their programming? A sober review of our educational system reveals that men are struggling. Athletics is one of the few areas in which men are more engaged.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, nearly half of high school senior boys reported participating in an athletic team compared to one in three girls. But twice as many girls contributed to their school’s newspaper or yearbook. Nineteen percent of girls compared to 12 percent of boys participated in an academic club. Thirteen percent of girls compared to 8 percent of boys took part in student council. Nearly one third of senior girls participated in a play or musical performance compared to just two percent of boys.

High school girls are more likely than boys to like school, find their work meaningful, and believe their studies will be useful later in life. Not surprisingly, girls are less likely to drop out and more likely to go to college. As of this fall, women account for 57 percent of undergraduate students.

Canceling another five male sports team won’t make these statistics about men any worse. But certainly it’s a step in the wrong direction, and another sign that university officials are more interested in pacifying the gender police than making higher education appealing to young men


Britain. 'Cool Maths': The sum of all fears

Schoolchildren will never learn to love abstract subjects like maths if teachers are afraid to challenge them

One of the central themes in modern education debates is how to motivate pupils. How do we make learning maths, science, history or English an interesting, enjoyable, and rewarding experience for pupils? It is widely believed that if we fail to convince pupils that studying a particular subject is both relevant to their personal experience and enjoyable they will never learn it properly. This point was emphasised by Charles Clarke three years and two education secretaries ago: `Enjoyment is the birthright of every child. Children learn better when they are excited and engaged ... When there is joy in what they are doing, they learn to love learning.'

One of the subjects that most worries educationalists and policy makers is mathematics. Being the most abstract subject in the curriculum, maths is almost universally considered a hard subject, which is difficult to make relevant to pupils' lives. Minister for Higher Education Bill Rammell notes that `mathematics is too often seen as difficult or boring' and `we have a curriculum that all too often fails to excite and motivate learners'. Educationalist Adrian Smith, author in 2004 of a major inquiry into the state of post-14 mathematics, Making Mathematics Count, states in his report that there has long `been considerable concern about many young people's perception of mathematics as being "boring and irrelevant" and "too difficult", compared with other subjects'.

For the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted), maths is worse than boring. It must be truly terrifying, as `the best teachers' build confidence by `enabling [students] to talk through misconceptions in a non-threatening way'. Ofsted cites as an example of a good lesson one where `the teacher valued and used all answers from students, whether correct or not'. As a result, the students were `highly motivated'. Ofsted wants to see lessons with pace, like stand-up comedy, in order to ensure the full attention of the audience. Yet in 2005 it criticised maths teachers for not slowing down the pace of the lesson when necessary: `In many of the less effective lessons, the teaching moves on before pupils have understood the concept; the pressure to cover new content as quickly as possible results in shallow coverage and lack of depth in learning.' Ofsted also implies that there must be a trade off between serious learning and entertainment: `A stimulating session with hairdressing students struck just the right balance between engaging the learners and keeping their mathematics moving forward.' But why should we strike a balance between engaging the learners and learning maths? It seems that we can only sell learning in an underhand way, as something else.

In June 2006, various newspapers reported as `cool maths' a 4 million pound initiative by the secretary of state for education Alan Johnson aimed at `giving teachers new and innovative ways to engage with pupils at Key Stage 3'. Johnson explained that the programme `will make learning engaging and fascinating [as] the problems will be based around things which appeal to pupils, such as fashion, football, or the Olympics'. But Johnson gave away his real views on serious learning when he stated that `the questions will be open, so that the answers will be found through discussion, activity and ingenuity, rather than sitting in a dark room with a wet towel around the head'. Like a self-conscious teenager, Mr Johnson seems so desperate to look cool that he doesn't hesitate to declare his disgust for swots.

However, the prize for coolest educators must go to the chemistry lecturers at Leicester University, who dressed up as Harry Potter characters to motivate primary school children to study their academic discipline. According to the BBC, `Dr Jonny Woodward is putting on a "Gryffindor gown" to become Harry while Dr Paul Jenkins dresses up as the headmaster, Professor Albus Dumbledore, and Mrs Tracy McGhie is transfigured into Professor Minerva McGonagall'.

We should be more honest and tell children what they already know: that maths has very little to do with fashion, football and the Olympics; that chemistry has nothing to do with Harry Potter. Middle-aged educators who try to jump on to every fashionable bandwagon like a bunch of groupies don't even look cool, never mind motivate pupils to study.

The real problem, then, is not that modern pupils are in any way different from previous generations. The problem is the era these children have been born into. Adults no longer believe that education is a worthwhile thing in its own right. It must always be made `relevant'. They have so little faith in pupils that they believe that children are now incapable of grasping abstract concepts, never mind developing a love of books. Learning necessarily involves hard work and individual effort. Teachers are unlikely to convince children that learning a school subject is worth the effort if we believe so little in our discipline and in our pupils' intelligence.


Fundamentalist Christian schools under attack in Australia

Children at taxpayer-funded schools run by the Exclusive Brethren sect are brainwashed and their basic texts are crudely censored, say former teachers. Several teachers have told The Australian they left Brethren schools in disgust at "excessive control" over what children were allowed to read and study. And they said they were paid $10,000 a year less than teachers at comparable non-government schools because the sect did not allow enterprise bargaining.

The claims have prompted calls from teachers, unions and politicians for tighter conditions on taxpayer funding for Brethren schools, which receive $20.7 million a year in federal money.

A fundamentalist Christian sect, the Exclusive Brethren has created controversy in Australia and abroad for smear campaigns against liberal-minded politicians. New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark accused the sect of hiring a private detective to gather dirt on her and husband Peter Davis, who was pictured in a magazine being kissed by a "mystery man", who turned out to be a family friend.

The sect has 31 schools in Australia - in NSW, Queensland, Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania - teaching 3823 children until the end of high school. As the Brethren do not believe in tertiary education, they must hire non-members of the sect to teach in their schools. A teacher who recently left one of the sect's three Oakwood schools in Tasmania said he did so in disgust at the "complete control" over the children and their education imposed by the Brethren. "I didn't want to contribute to a system in which the control over the children was so complete," the teacher said. "The children are told what jobs they will do and who they will marry. They were not being equipped to live in the outside world. The Brethren were cutting off the children's pathways." Most modern novels were banned, pages were removed even from permitted 19th-century works and entire chapters were censored from science books. "One science book had all the chapters on reproduction cut out," one teacher said. "Most modern texts were banned."

Teachers reported positives, such as excellent reading skills among the children and an absence of violent or abusive behaviour, but said pupils could be difficult to discipline because they did not believe they needed to heed the word of outsiders.

John Saunders, chief executive of the Brethren's Hobart campus of Oakwood School, rejected the criticisms. "'Our school community, including non-Brethren staff and teachers, has an understanding, respect and a commitment to abide by the school ethos," he said. "This ethos upholds scriptural principles, including the teachings of Christ and the apostles. Our school is a Christian fundamentalist school with a secular curriculum. Many modern-day novels are rejected on the basis they are contrary to the truth of scripture. The parents have set up the Oakwood school to protect their children from the rapid moral decline in today's society."

Independent Education Union federal secretary Lynne Rolley questioned taxpayer funding of Brethren schools, saying it was unfair to other non-government schools with full market pay rates.



For greatest efficiency, lowest cost and maximum choice, ALL schools should be privately owned and run -- with government-paid vouchers for the poor and minimal regulation.

The NEA and similar unions worldwide believe that children should be thoroughly indoctrinated with Green/Left, feminist/homosexual ideology but the "3 R's" are something that kids should just be allowed to "discover"

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