Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Clever! Sydney University (Australia) dumbs down its image

A Latin motto is dignified and a mark of interest in scholarship but U. Syd would rather be "modern". They claim to be aiming at making themselves stand out but in fact have just joined the common herd. It is a long time since I graduated from U. Syd but if I were a recent graduate I might well feel that my degree had been devalued -- that I had graduated from an ordinary university rather than a distinguished one. But I guess that the Left who dominate academe these days despise all traditions -- even a tradition of high scholarship. Perhaps they suspect -- probably rightly -- that they are not up to the standard of their predecessors

After 150 years the University of Sydney has abandoned its status quo, dropping the Latin motto from its redesigned coat of arms and logo. Students and scholars have turned to the new technology of social networking to launch a campaign calling for the reinstatement of the Latin inscription.

The university spent almost $750,000 on the research and redesign that axed the motto: "sidere mens eadem mutato" - a reference to Sydney following the traditions of universities in the northern hemisphere. A further $500,000 was spent replacing marketing material such as banners and street signage, the university said.

The motto - most commonly translated as "the constellation is changed, the disposition is the same" - has been part of the university's coat of arms since 1857. As a first-time astronaut, Greg Chamitoff, a former university staff member, even took a patch of the crest into space on the shuttle Discovery in 2008.

Marian Theobald, the university's external relations executive director, said market research, overseen by the Chicago-based firm Lipman Hearne, had found the university relied too heavily on its sandstone heritage and something "bolder, more energetic and more modern" was needed. "The opinion of thousands of students, academics, alumni, donors and business groups was canvassed, and we discovered the university was struggling to differentiate itself from other elite Australian institutions, in the domestic and international market place," she said. "We needed to engage better with the outside world. The removal of the Latin motto during the joint design work by Lipman Hearne and the Australian firm Moon Design was purely practical. It's hard to reproduce and read online. It was impossible to read when reduced in size. "The motto will still be used by the university and will be maintained for more formal purposes, such as on testamurs."

Ms Theobald said suggestions that between $5 million and $13 million had been spent on the branding project were ridiculous. Costs had been kept to a minimum by allowing supplies of old stationery stock, publications and merchandise to exhaust naturally.

Emily Matters, president of the Classical Language Teachers Association, said the removal was hugely disappointing. "I think this goes against everything what universities stand for where one generation hands over its culture to the next," she said.

Anthony Alexander, president of the Classical Association of NSW, who also teaches Greek and Latin at the University of Sydney, said the deletion was far from a dumbing down of the university or a denigration of Latin. "What matters is what we teach, what we actually do in the classrooms," he said. "I don't think it compromises Latin, which is stronger than ever."

Elly Howse, president of the University of Sydney Students' Representative Council, said rebranding or a new logo was a failed approach at modernising the university's image. "The money should have been spent on teaching and learning facilities," she said.

A Facebook page titled "Bring back the old USYD crest" calls for reinstatement of the Latin motto, saying the new design was better suited to a primary school.

The University of NSW, meanwhile, said it had no intention of removing its Latin motto, "manu et mente" (with hand and mind) from its coat of arms.

The university adopted its new logo and the styling of its coat of arms with a soft launch in mid-January. The coat of arms mantling and the shape of the escutcheon (shield) have changed and the motto scroll is removed. The mane and fur of the lion have been changed, along with the number of lines in the open book and the coloration.


U.S. schools are doing their intended job

I sometimes grow weary listening to people complaining that the government schools are doing a terrible job. I have many objections to this horrid system, but I must give it credit for accomplishing its actual – but unstated – purpose, namely, to dumb-down the minds of people so as to make them unquestioning and obedient vassals of the established order. There is nothing so disruptive to the status quo as a society of self-directed, independent-minded people both capable of and insistent on informed, analytical thought. It has been the purpose of government schools to assure that such conditions do not arise; to continue to produce a society of capable workers but who, nonetheless, have passive and contented minds.

The contrast between systems of learning that focus on helping students become epistemologically independent and competent, and the government schools, is often difficult to make other than by anecdotal examples. When I was in the eighth-grade in a government school, we were required to study Latin. That revelation, standing by itself, conveys little to a listener. Only occasionally am I able to find some past curricular evidence with which to compare modern school offerings.

Thanks to the Internet, however, I have rediscovered an interesting item that helps make my point. It is an eighth grade exam that students in Salina, Kansas, were required to pass in order to advance to high school (i.e., the ninth grade). The exam was given in 1895, and consists of the following subject areas and questions.

"Grammar (Time, one hour)

1. Give nine rules for the use of Capital Letters.

2. Name the Parts of Speech and define those that have no modifications.

3. Define Verse, Stanza and Paragraph.

4. What are the Principal Parts of a verb? Give Principal Parts of do, lie, lay and run.

5. Define Case, Illustrate each Case.

6. What is Punctuation? Give rules for principal marks of Punctuation.

7–10. Write a composition of about 150 words and show therein that you understand the practical use of the rules of grammar.

Arithmetic (Time, 1.25 hours)

1. Name and define the Fundamental Rules of Arithmetic.

2. A wagon box is 2 ft. deep, 10 feet long, and 3 ft. wide. How many bushels of wheat will it hold?

3. If a load of wheat weighs 3942 lbs., what is it worth at 50cts. per bu, deducting 1050 lbs. for tare?

4. District No. 33 has a valuation of $35,000. What is the necessary levy to carry on a school seven months at $50 per month, and have $104 for incidentals?

5. Find cost of 6720 lbs. coal at $6.00 per ton.

6. Find the interest of $512.60 for 8 months and 18 days at 7 percent.

7. What is the cost of 40 boards 12 inches wide and 16 ft. long at $.20 per inch?

8. Find bank discount on $300 for 90 days (no grace) at 10 percent.

9. What is the cost of a square farm at $15 per acre, the distance around which is 640 rods?

10. Write a Bank Check, a Promissory Note, and a Receipt.

U.S. History (Time, 45 minutes)

1. Give the epochs into which U.S. History is divided.

2. Give an account of the discovery of America by Columbus.

3. Relate the causes and results of the Revolutionary War.

4. Show the territorial growth of the United States.

5. Tell what you can of the history of Kansas.

6. Describe three of the most prominent battles of the Rebellion.

7. Who were the following: Morse, Whitney, Fulton, Bell, Lincoln, Penn, and Howe?

8. Name events connected with the following dates: 1607, 1620, 1800, 1849, and 1865.

Orthography (Time, one hour)

1. What is meant by the following: Alphabet, phonetic orthography, etymology, syllabication?

2. What are elementary sounds? How classified?

3. What are the following, and give examples of each: Trigraph, subvocals, diphthong, cognate letters, linguals?

4. Give four substitutes for caret "u."

5. Give two rules for spelling words with final "e." Name two exceptions under each rule.

6. Give two rules of silent letters in spelling. Illustrate each.

7. Define the following prefixes and use in connection with a word: Bi, dis, mis, pre, semi, post, non, inter, mono, super.

8. Mark diacritically and divide into syllables the following, and name the sign that indicates the sound: Card, ball, mercy, sir, odd, cell, rise, blood, fare, last.

9. Use the following correctly in sentences: Cite, site, sight, fane, fain, feign, vane, vain, vein, raze, raise, rays.

10. Write 10 words frequently mispronounced and indicate pronunciation by use of diacritical marks and by syllabication.

Geography (Time, one hour)

1. What is climate? Upon what does climate depend?

2. How do you account for the extremes of climate in Kansas?

3. Of what use are rivers? Of what use is the ocean?

4. Describe the mountains of N.A.

5. Name and describe the following: Monrovia, Odessa, Denver, Manitoba, Hecla, Yukon, St. Helena, Juan Fermandez, Aspinwall and Orinoco.

6. Name and locate the principal trade centers of the U.S.

7. Name all the republics of Europe and give capital of each.

8. Why is the Atlantic Coast colder than the Pacific in the same latitude?

9. Describe the process by which the water of the ocean returns to the sources of rivers.

10. Describe the movements of the earth. Give inclination of the earth.

1. Where are the saliva, gastric juice, and bile secreted? What is the use of each in digestion?

2. How does nutrition reach the circulation?

3. What is the function of the liver? Of the kidneys?

4. How would you stop the flow of blood from an artery in the case of laceration?

5. Give some general directions that you think would be beneficial to preserve the human body in a state of health."

If you have any eighth-grade children in government schools, you might consider taking this set of questions to your next parent-teacher conference and ask if the students are learning at a substantive level that would allow them to provide intelligent answers. If you feel even more courageous, you might ask the teacher whether he/she is capable of giving the kinds of responses once expected of thirteen year-olds in Kansas. You will probably be told that the subject matter of this earlier test is peculiar to the time and place in which it was given; and that nineteenth-century teenagers would likely be unable to name the first winner on the "American Idol" program, or to write a sentence that includes the phrase "fer sure, dude", or to locate the site (sight? cite?) of Neverland Ranch!


Unionized Rhode Island Teachers Refuse To Work 25 Minutes More Per Day, So Town Fires All Of Them

I hope the town sticks to its guns. Far too many teachers are overpaid prima donnas

A school superintendent in Rhode Island is trying to fix an abysmally bad school system. Her plan calls for teachers at a local high school to work 25 minutes longer per day, each lunch with students once in a while, and help with tutoring.

The teachers' union has refused to accept these apparently onerous demands. The teachers at the high school make $70,000-$78,000, as compared to a median income in the town of $22,000. This exemplifies a nationwide trend in which public sector workers make far more than their private-sector counterparts (with better benefits).

The school superintendent has responded to the union's stubbornness by firing every teacher and administrator at the school. A sign of things to come?


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