Thursday, November 24, 2016

How Infantilized Campuses Threaten Our Nation’s Future

What are we to make of higher education when students and institutions respond to the recent presidential election with cry-ins, canceled exams, therapy dogs, Play-Doh, coloring books, group screams, Legos, bubble-blowing, and trauma counseling? Well, college “ain’t what it used to be.”

For some time, higher learning has been a political matter, one where the primary aim is to usher students into the club of elite (supposedly enlightened) progressive opinion. Gone is the formation of keen, analytical habits of mind and rational argument.

The result is not just a poorly educated student body, but an infantilized one. Mature discourse is out, and fragility, dependence, and bad temper is in.

Rather than cultivate habits of sustained and sober thought, we encourage manufactured outrage and self-indulgent victimhood. Anyone who has spent time with 2-year-olds recognizes the behavior. In our case, however, we appear to cultivate it on our campuses.

An infantilized campus is bad enough, but it becomes intolerable when these are the places where leaders of a self-governing republic are usually formed.

Regardless of party or position, a citizenry incapable of facing adversity or unwilling to reason about and discuss difficult, public things will not likely produce leaders who can do so. If college campuses steep our future leaders in habits of entitled fragility, the only politics they will be able to imagine is that of the tantrum.

Tellingly, this is exactly the kind of politics we have seen on campus, and, increasingly, off campus as well.

A darker view would regard our infantilized campuses as something more sinister than the accidental byproduct of politicized higher education. When the noise of a tantrum becomes a primary political instrument in place of reason, persuasion, and evidence, then volume, not thought, wins the day.

And volume is coercive. When 2-year-olds throw tantrums, they attempt to force matters and get their own way. A set of people taught not to reason but to huddle in safe spaces and throw the occasional tantrum is a people taught to impose their will. They have not been denied a voice; rather, they are intent upon being the only voice.

This is not to say that all post-election anxiety is necessarily irrational. But it is a lack of the aforementioned habits that makes aggression and extremism so common.

Genuine higher learning requires (among other things) time, intense application of thought, patient reflection, and maturity. Rather than an education in elite and coddled groupthink, real learning is an education in honed and sound thinking—thinking that is not victim to every fleeting passion.

This is precisely the kind of learning poet Robert Frost had in mind when he wrote, “So when at times the mob is swayed/ To carry praise or blame too far,/ We may choose something like a star/ To stay our minds on and be staid.”

If we cannot restore the “higher” to higher education, if we cannot put down our Play-Doh and take up our Plato, it’s unlikely we’ll see a return of either to our politics or our learning.


British school where Breitbart journalist Milo Yiannopoulos studied CANCELS his talk after intervention by 'anti-extremist' unit

A school has cancelled a talk by a right-wing journalist linked to Donald Trump after receiving advice from the Government's counter-extremism unit.

Milo Yiannopoulos, an outspoken conservative and senior editor for the 'alt-right' website Breitbart that backed Mr Trump's US election campaign, was due to address the Simon Langton Grammar School for Boys, which he attended as a child.

But the Canterbury school announced today that it had received advice from the Department for Education (DfE) to call off his visit tomorrow due to safety concerns.

The DfE's counter-extremism unit warned that protests from anti-Trump groups could jeapordise the security of pupils at the Canterbury grammar school.

The school said it was 'disappointed that both the pastoral care and intellectual preparation we offer to our students has been called into question'

Mr Yiannopoulos was barred from Twitter in the summer and describes himself on his official Facebook page as 'the most fabulous supervillain on the internet'.

His colleague Steve Bannon, chief executive of the Breitbart website, has been controversially appointed as chief strategist to President-elect Trump. 

A spokesman for Simon Langton school said: 'This decision was taken following contact from the DfE counter extremism unit, the threat of demonstrations at the school by organised groups and members of the public and our overall concerns for the security of the school site and the safety of our community.

'We note that, within 24 hours of advertising the event, 220 Langton sixth formers had, with parental consent, signed up for the event and that objection to our hosting Mr Yiannopoulos came almost entirely from people with no direct connection to The Langton. The staff and students of the school were overwhelmingly in favour.

'Whilst disappointed that both the pastoral care and intellectual preparation we offer to our students has been called into question, we at The Langton remain committed to the principle of free speech and open debate and will resist, where possible, all forms of censorship.'

Mr Yiannopoulos reacted angrily to the intervention from the DfE today.

He wrote on his Facebook page: 'Who even knew the DoE (sic) had a 'counter-extremism' unit? And that it wasn't set up to combat terrorism but rather to punish gays with the wrong opinions?

'Perhaps if I'd called my talk 'Muslims are awesome!' the National Union Of Teachers (NUT) and Department of Education (sic) would have been cool with me speaking.'

Rachael Jolley, the editor of Index on Censorship magazine, also criticised the DfE's decision. She said: 'The point of education is to explore ideas. If students don't get the chance to do this, then ideas are never tested, and they don't get experience in having arguments.

'Whether they agree or disagree with Milo Yiannopoulos, students should have the chance to hear a speaker that 200 of them had signed up to see.'

Details of the event were made public in The Times on Saturday. Mr Yiannopoulos was invited by American academic James Soderholm, the school’s humanities director, to speak about politics, the alt-right and the US election.

But Christine Dickinson, local secretary of the NUT, attacked the decision to invite someone who is ‘well known for his inflammatory views to speak to their pupils without contest’.

A Department for Education source said officials had contacted the school following a complaint, adding: ‘Officials will have been very clear with the school that it was their decision. It is not the case that we have banned a speaker – it is a decision for the school.’

A department spokesman said: ‘When concerns are raised by members of the public following media coverage … the department would contact the school as a matter of routine to check they had considered any potential issues.’

Breitbart News is a fast-growing conservative website that is connected with both the Trump campaign and Ukip. Founded in 2007, it gained notoriety with videos targeting liberal groups and politicians.

Mr Trump’s newly-appointed chief strategist Steve Bannon was executive chairman of Breitbart but took a leave of absence to work for the presidential campaign.

Mr Yiannopoulos was banned from Twitter earlier this year after Ghostbusters actress Leslie Jones accused him of directing racist abuse she had been sent by other users of the site. Mr Yiannopoulos called the ban ‘cowardly’ and said Twitter was now a ‘no-go zone for conservatives’.


Australia: Would-be teachers must improve uni scores

When will this bungler learn? Between all the red tape and the disruptive students, teaching is no longer a good job.  So bright people mostly avoid it.  You HAVE TO accept dummies as teachers or you will eventually not have enough teachers for the schools. 

Victorian students who want to train as teachers will need higher university entrance scores after concerns too many young educators aren't up to the mark.

The minimum Victoria state ATAR will be 65 in 2018 and rise to 70 from 2019.

"If you want the best and brightest kids, then you have got to make sure that we've got the best and brightest teachers," Premier Daniel Andrews told reporters on Wednesday.

"For too long I think too many people who are perhaps not ready to be teachers have been getting the scores necessary to get into that course."

The average ATAR of students who began a teaching course in 2016 was about 57, according to Fairfax Media, implying some students got in with even lower scores.

Mr Andrews lifting lift teaching standards will flow through to class rooms. "We've got an oversupply of teachers at the moment, so it's exactly the right time," Mr Andrews said.

But opposition education spokesman Nick Wakeling says a high ATAR score alone won't result in smarter teachers. "While ATARs are important, universities use a range of tools to select their teacher candidates, including interviews, portfolios and written applications," Mr Wakeling said.

"Teachers need better support as they enter the classroom and more valuable professional development focused on improving their skills throughout their career."


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