Friday, October 30, 2015

Politically Correct Conditioning: It Starts Early In School

Some can recall a time when our campuses of higher education were zones where free speech thrived. That was another era, though. Today's students want speech restricted. How did it come to this?

The results of a poll that should be shocking, but sadly aren't, show that 51% of students favor their "college or university having speech codes to regulate speech for students and faculty."

Oddly, 95% say that "the issue of free speech" is important at their college or university, while 73% believe that the First Amendment is "an important amendment that still needs to be followed and respected in today's society." Only 21% told the Buckley Free Speech Survey that it is "outdated" and "can no longer be applied in today's society and should be changed."

Maybe these findings are not so odd, after all. In today's America, "free speech" and "First Amendment rights" tend not to include any expression that doesn't conform to left-wing ideology.

Seven years ago, almost two entire college generations in the past, the Acton Institute observed, "Students at colleges and universities who articulate conservative and traditional views are at particular risk of bullying and indoctrination by campus administrators and faculty who are zealous ideologues."

In that same commentary, author Ray Nothstine noted, "Some administrators practice a brand of radicalism intent on punishing students who dissent from the ideology of the campus power structure."

This, says Nothstine, is a danger to free society because "students (will) become accustomed to having their rights limited and will be more lethargic in countering possible oppression from a growing and intrusive state."

Remember, this was written in 2008. Students, it seems, are now fully accustomed to being told what they can and cannot say, and what they can and cannot think, and are just fine with it. In fact, they apparently want more restrictions.

The conditioning of minds begins early. High school kids are suspended for mild expressions of faith; elementary school students can be forced to undergo psychological evaluations if they draw a picture of Jesus on the cross; kids who wear shirts with the American flag or name of a conservative group are sent home to change; schools monitor students' social media for speech that administrators don't like; and sixth-graders have been assigned to "revise" the "outdated" Bill of Rights.

Perhaps worse than all of the above is the failure of teachers to present or even tolerate alternatives to what they're teaching.

As disturbing as it is, this is the educational world where our children are growing up. Free speech and expression are tolerated only when in accord with the left-wing doctrine of faculty and administrators.

It's a chilling look into a grim future.


Survey: 49% of College Students Feel ‘Intimidated’ When Expressing Beliefs Different From Professors

Forty-nine percent of U.S. college students admit they feel “intimidated” when they express beliefs or opinions that differ from their professors, according to a new nationwide survey of 800 undergraduates.

When researchers asked: “Have you felt intimidated to share your ideas, opinions or beliefs in class because they were different than your professors and course instructors?” 49 percent responded that they did, including 14 percent who said this happens “frequently”.

Fifty percent of survey respondents also said they felt intimidated by classmates when sharing different or unpopular beliefs.

The vast majority (95 percent) of students surveyed said that the issue of free speech is “important” to them, and 87 percent agree that listening to those with whom they disagree has educational value.

However, despite their strong support for free speech, a majority (51 percent) of students favor on-campus speech codes even though only one in 10 believes that colleges should regulate speech even more than they do now.

More than half (52 percent) of the students surveyed think that their college or university should forbid certain people with a history of “hate speech” from speaking on campus even though the same percentage also believes that the First Amendment does not make an exception for speech that some consider “hateful”.

And nearly three-quarters of student respondents (72 percent) favor disciplinary action for “any student or faculty member on campus who uses language that is considered racist, sexist, homophobic or otherwise offensive.”

According to a demographic profile of students who agreed to take the online survey, 44 percent described themselves as “liberal”, 32 percent as “moderate”, and 20 percent as “conservative”. Forty-two percent said they were Democrats, 29 percent identified as Independents, and 26 percent as Republicans.

The survey was sponsored by the William F. Buckley Jr. Program at Yale University, which was founded “to increase intellectual diversity” at the Ivy League school and other college campuses. It was conducted by McLaughlin & Associates between September 19th and 28th.

 “The survey results confirmed some of what we expected, but they also revealed troubling surprises,” executive director Lauren Noble said. “It is the opinion of the Buckley Program that university campuses are best served by free and open speech, but lamentably, that opinion is anything but unanimous.”


How technology can help with  Australia's (and the world's) educational problems

But no substituite for a demanding curriculum -- JR

A recent UN Education Agency commissioned report [PDF/2.3MB] estimated that at least 250 million of the world's primary school age children are unable to read, write or do basic mathematics at all. The same number of children are also struggling to improve to a functional level, and this is not a problem linked solely to developing countries.

In Australia, as in many other developed countries, we are facing the very real possibility that, in the near future, the generation approaching retirement will be more literate and numerate than the youngest adults.

Solving Australia's challenges or the problem of global illiteracy and innumeracy is a huge task but it's essential if we are to improve the health, wellbeing and life chances of the world's children.

I would argue that there has never been a better time to be in education. The technology we have available to us now means that the difficulties of the past shouldn't constrain our future or, more importantly, our children's future.

I believe that this is achievable and that the answer lies in making learning both accessible and efficient. The opportunities that technology opens up in this regard are just astounding and, in terms of learning, it can be of tremendous assistance.

Mastering skills such as number recognition, automatic recall of times tables or being able to smoothly blend groups of letters to form words takes time. It is therefore vital that children are motivated and engaged sufficiently to persevere.

Technology is a tool to help learning not a replacement. A number of people are of the opinion that technology shouldn't be used in education. I fundamentally disagree. Technology can be used to improve learning. It is ubiquitous to children's lives these days and to take it away seems false. You would not go into a hospital and say "I don't want modern treatment, please give me what worked in the 1940s or '50s"!

Technology isn't just an aide to the child it can give so much to the teacher, parent, education system. Technology can help reveal to us how children learn which, in turn, enables us to teach in better ways. We are able to identify the areas of the curriculum that children struggle to grasp.

For example if you go back five years and ask most maths teachers what basic skills children find difficult and they would have flagged division as one of the hardest.

In fact the data from millions of records, in scores of countries, suggests otherwise. Subtraction is the element that children find the most challenging. Once they have mastered that area then others fall more easily into place.

Technology cannot and does not replace the great teacher but it can bring in others into the equation who can be also hugely supportive and motivational to the child.

In my experience technology that opens the door to the child's support group to take an active role in education will have the biggest impact on learning and help us radically improve life outcomes for millions of children.


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