Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Segregation as sponsored by today's Left

Mike Adams

Many African American Cultural Centers actually impede diversity by turning black students into racists and segregationists. And most of them make black students less tolerant by convincing them that they are somehow more enlightened and have special "perspective" simply because of their race. Recent events have convinced me that such arrogance is on the rise.

Last week, a black female graduate of our university called my office and left a message asking that I call her back regarding an “urgent matter.” I thought she had something important to say. I did not know at the time that I was going to hear a woman half my age lecture me on the importance of tolerance and diversity. But I’m glad she called because she set off a chain of media events that ended quite nicely for those us who are opposed to racism and segregation.

When the black alumna called she said she had read my recent column “If I Were President.” She wanted to know whether I was really going to abolish the African American Center. At that point, I already knew we were in for an educational conversation. These days, college graduates are not well-versed in satire. As an art form, it is swiftly becoming extinct.

Things went downhill in our conversation when this college graduate told me that she became upset with my remarks about getting rid of the African American Center after she “saw that I was white”. My seventh Great Grandfather fought in the American Revolution in order to preserve our basic God-given rights. But this college graduate seemed to suggest that the expression of basic human rights is contingent upon race. The African American Center she frequented as an undergraduate did not seem to give her the ability to reflect and remedy her own possible racism.

After hearing her tell me that she “got all amped up” in response to my satire I made a big mistake. I explained that I would get rid of all the centers if I really were running for chancellor. The alumna’s response was predictable. She said “If you don’t like diversity you should go find another university.” When I pointed out her hypocrisy she replied that I did not need to be “getting all amped up and taking that tone with (her).”

Sitting in my office getting a lecture on tolerance from someone half my age was bad. When I heard her tell me not to take “that tone” with her I wondered “Could it possibly get any worse?” Well, yes it could. Next, she dropped this bombshell: “I will be in touch with your supervisors.” She even promised to drive in from out of town to set up personal meetings with them.

(Author’s Note: Ironically, both of the administrators she promised to contact are defendants in a First Amendment lawsuit pending before the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia. Oral arguments in Adams v. UNCW are scheduled to begin on January 25th).

I got off the phone with the woman who did not like my tone (although at the time I did not think of that rhyme). Shortly after that, the local media decided to get involved. The TV cameras rolled out to UNCW’s African American Center in order to get this footage of a young diversity expert giving his take on the situation. Notice that he confidently asserts that my speech is way outside the mainstream – so much so that it is “inappropriate” to suggest that I represent the university.

The WWAY website (a local TV station) ran a poll, which I am thankful to have won by a ratio of eight-to-one. That is significant because my percentage of support greatly outnumbers the local and national white population. Yet this young diversity expert will probably never acknowledge that his own views are seen by most as “incredible, to say the least” and “inappropriate” at an institution of higher learning.

Note that the WWAY survey was worded in such a way as to steer the results in a certain direction. A better poll would have asked “Does Scott Pickey understand that the First Amendment only protects offensive speech because inoffensive speech does not need protection? Yes or No.” Or “Is Scott Pickey a) an objective journalist? Or, b) a political commentator like Mike Adams?” (Pickey is the reporter who wrote the online version of the story. The reporter handling the video portion of the story was completely objective).

The highlight of the news video is, of course, the portion featuring a black female student who tells us that we still need diversity centers because of the persistence of racism and sexism. But she made the statement while wearing big black sorority letters emblazoned on her blouse. In other words, while lecturing us on the persistence of racism and sexism she was touting her membership in an organization that limits its membership to blacks and women. The hypocrisy of asking the public to fund “solutions” to the “problems” she is exacerbating is simply staggering.

These students did not become so confused overnight. The cultivation their sanctimonious hypocrisy has taken years of indoctrination in the centers of so-called diversity. Even if those centers are shut down the students will retain the right to express their segregationist views. Such views are protected by the First Amendment regardless of how offensive they may be.


Some hope for mathematics teaching in Britain

Car journeys in our family have long been dominated, not by the soothing strains of Classic FM, but by the age-old battle over times tables. Every journey ended with me banging my head on the steering wheel, offering through grinding gnashers: “What are seven eights? No, darling, it’s 56. Now chant it 10 times after me…”

Is it a girl thing? My daughter Emilia is pretty bright. By seven she was a voracious reader with a good vocabulary; yet her maths was often muddled. Which is a shame, as maths graduates earn significantly over the UK average – and a cool £5k more than English graduates – if the latest Complete University Guide is to be believed.

I couldn’t really dangle graduate salary tables in front of a seven-year-old. But I tried everything else. Shouting, obviously. Bribery, blackmail. Even patience.

To be fair, Emilia is hardly alone in struggling with maths. Lenny Henry touched on this in his Radio 4 programme earlier this year, What’s So Great About Maths? For many, there is something intrinsically terrifying about numbers.

We, thankfully, have found deliverance through Emma Jonas, a maths teacher and former headmistress who happened to live near us in Kent. Friends gave glowing testimonies about how she had coached their children through the 11-plus. Since then, her reputation has, well, multiplied to the power of 10: her book, Mrs J Rules, is selling well, and she looks like doing for maths what Supernanny did for the naughty step.

After a few lessons, Emilia is scarcely closer to becoming the next Alan Turing – or even Carol Vorderman – but she is (excuse boastful parental interlude) comfortably in the top half of her maths class – and top at times tables. As turnarounds go, this would be the equivalent of the England football team learning how to thread a pass.

Tables, according to Mrs J, are the building blocks of all maths. “Children often say they know their tables, but they are effectively counting. If they can give the answer instantly they can do more complicated sums such as imperfect fractions so much quicker. This transforms their results in exams for their entire school career,” she says.

The Jonas technique is to make tables fun. Yes, I, too, was sceptical. But I’ve just tried my six-year-old, Fred, out on “Mrs J’s Brilliant Tables Game”, and the remarkable thing is he actually begs to play it (normally he dodges work and soap with equal zeal).

“I know how important it is to engage the child because maths didn’t come easily to me either, and I would get a tummy ache before tables tests,” smiles Jonas, who became a teacher precisely because she couldn’t believe how badly she had been taught. “One school report said: 'She has a cheerful disregard for learning the facts’.” Jonas turns table learning into a brightly coloured card game, which is multi-sensorial.

It really does seem to live up to its slogan: “warning: might make tables easy”. She calls her recent success a “miracle”, admitting that when she self-published her book even the printer reckoned she was wasting her time. “He said a lot of this will need to be recycled,” laughs Jonas, who has just added a book to make English easy.

As for maths, schools do seem to be dragging it from the dark days of blackboard horror. At his primary school (Chiddingstone, near Edenbridge), Fred is less likely to be found doing a sum on a board than counting virtual bubbles in a bath on a computer screen. The girls’ school Walthamstow Hall in Sevenoaks organises “maths races” between primary schools, where pupils from each compete to see who can do the most tables in a short time. For older children there are lectures explaining the maths of such disparate phenomena as clouds and lightning. Whisper it, but it actually sounds mildly interesting.

Oh, and it’s probably not a girl thing, apparently. A vast test by Brian Butterworth of University College London suggested that women are better at quantifying than men. Maths is, as Lenny Henry discovered, a teaching thing.


Something odd about home schooling?

Comment from Australia

Next year I will educate one of my primary school-aged children at home. It suits him, for now, and it will suit me, now that I have made some changes. Yet it doesn't seem to suit anyone else. Even the government representative – meant to support parents and children undertaking home education – seemed, well, judgmental. When I asked why it took a few months for approval to come through – nothing accusatorial in my tone, just wanting to be across the process – she caustically responded “because we care about the children”.

My son loves to learn – more broadly than the curriculum dictates. I like to teach, and I too am still learning. I will organise help if there are elements beyond me. Basically, we are excited. And I am not asking for the $10,722 it would have cost the government to have him in primary school next year. So which bit is confronting?

Teaching has been around as long as humans have, but education and schools are relatively newer concepts, particularly our industrialised version.

The reactions of others would suggest I am removing my son from a perfect education system, a system that, despite some excellent teachers, stands accused of narrowing education, teaching to the test and moving towards rewarding a school, or recognising the "best" teachers, based on flawed measures that foster stress and desperation.

The NSW Board of Studies oversees home education in NSW. Parents or carers must complete an interview with an authorised person within the home. They need to demonstrate that a suitable education program, in accordance with the curriculum provided by the Education Act and Board of Studies syllabuses, has been devised and learning experiences, student achievements and progress can be recorded. Registration for home schooling is granted for a set period, usually between six months and two years, and once it expires you have to re-apply.

Home schooling has steadily increased in recent years. In 2009, 1945 children were registered for home schooling in NSW compared with 1417 in 2005, according to the NSW Board of Studies. More than 1.5 million students were educated at home in the US during 2007, compared with 1.1 million in 2003 and 850,000 in 1999, the US Department of Education says.

A Stanford University journal, Education Next, reported last year that the phenomenon was becoming mainstream, and the most common reason was a concern about the local school environment, rather than religious beliefs.

Research on the performance of home-schooled children here is close to non-existent. But most overseas studies indicate they perform the same, or better, both academically and socially.

Choosing to educate at home is a way of doing things differently. It may not be suitable for everyone – school is a safety net too for many families – but it should not be maligned or deemed unnatural.

The cartoonist and philosopher Michael Leunig did it for more than 10 years. He says home schooling forces parents to re-examine their own values and learning, and question what is worth doing in life. “Having the top score at 18 isn't going to help if you have a nervous breakdown at 40 . . . We are watching horrible pressure being put on children. Human happiness, sanity and health is involved in this issue. Taking back what we are meant to do is a bold step. It's not just about educating, it's about protecting character, it's about parenting.”

"What about the socialisation?" say many of those who disapprove. Frankly, much of the socialisation at school constitutes quips such as “You're gay” (if you, say, go to the library voluntarily) or, “You're weird” (if you don't own a gaming console).

If repeated exposure to this prepares a child for the adult world, then we are doing something very wrong in the adult world. So much of the school experience is just surviving – a strange way to fritter our Western advantage. Research published this year as part of the UK Millennium Cohort Study, which tracks the development of 15,000 children born between 2000 and 2002, found that one in four boys hate school by the age of seven.

Educating a child at home is a legitimate choice. Why are we so frightened of doing things differently? Why are we so frightened of others doing things differently?


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