Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Stanford: Fascist students stage walkout at Robert Spencer event, administration bars others wanting to enter

Stanford administration is responsible for what happened tonight, as they aided and abetted the smear campaign that the Stanford Daily and Stanford Review carried out, and coddled the students who were spuriously claiming that they felt “threatened” by my presence. Above all, they are responsible for refusing to enforce their own policy regarding disruption of the event. Even after the fascist students left, they refused to admit others who wanted to get in. What were Stanford officials afraid of? That someone might hear a truth that the elites have deemed unacceptable?

The Stanford administration also barred the Young America’s Foundation from streaming the event. The reason behind that was clear: they didn’t want the behavior of Stanford students to be exposed before the world. They knew what was coming, and they supported it.

If this were a sane academic environment, Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne and Provost Persis Drell would be forced to resign in disgrace for allowing first the smear campaign that preceded my event, and then for allowing it to be disrupted. But this is not a sane academic environment, and Stanford is not in any genuine sense a university.

In The Coming of the Third Reich, historian Richard J. Evans explains how, in the early days of National Socialist Germany, Stormtroopers (Brownshirts) “organized campaigns against unwanted professors in the local newspapers [and] staged mass disruptions of their lectures.” We have seen just that play out at Stanford: a massive and libelous smear campaign in the Stanford student press, and then the disruption of the event itself. Stanford is just an Antifa recruitment center, not a center of learning.

Meanwhile, I can’t stop laughing at the report below. I did not say “neo-grouchers,” but I do wish I had. I don’t know what I said at that precise moment, but it was probably “neo-fascists.” “Neo-grouchers” is much better. Thanks, Lisa Amin Gulezian.

“Stanford students walk out on talk from author they say is ‘racist, Islamophobic,'” by Lisa Amin Gulezian, KGO, November 15, 2017:

PALO ALTO, Calif. (KGO) — Minutes after author Robert Spencer started to speak, the packed room cleared out.

“You are all little totalitarians and neo-grouchers, a stain on Stanford University and academia in general,” Spencer said, directing his attention to students in the audience.

It was an orchestrated move by students who opposed Spencer’s presence on campus. The university’s Young Republicans sponsored the event.

Many students expressed outrage that Spencer, the director of the website Jihad Watch, was invited. “Racism, bigotry isn’t welcome. Those espousing hatred can’t have a platform on this campus,” said student Jana Kholy.

When asked if he was racist or Islamophobic, Spencer responded with laughter. “I’m neither one. Islam is not a race. Mass murder is not a race.”

Though Bruin Hall was nearly empty after the walkout, Spencer supporters weren’t allowed in. Organizers insisted that Spencer was invited to create a dialogue….

In the meantime, 200 or so students gathered nearby in support of what they say the true Stanford is about. “I will not continue hate speech on this campus,” said one student.


UK: I became a teacher at 57. I am learning the hard way — it is brutal, says Lucy Kellaway

A year ago I announced that after three decades I was leaving the Financial Times to become a maths teacher in a tough secondary school and that I had set up Now Teach, a charity to encourage other fiftysomethings to quit their cushy jobs and join me. Almost everyone said the same thing: you’re mad.

I replied that I was perfectly sane. I’d spent so long writing columns that I was no longer getting any better at it and was possibly getting worse. Many of my contemporaries were restive in their assorted jobs too, and while some were planning to slouch towards retirement, others longed to start all over again doing something new, difficult and worthwhile.

To anyone who dared suggest that at 57 I was too old to be worth the investment of training, I sharply replied that I would probably live into my nineties and so had another 15 years’ working life ahead of me. In any case, the average teacher stays in the profession for only five years, so I was no worse a risk than the next person.

A week before the launch of Now Teach, a journalist from The Times came to interview me at home about my untoward career change. I remember sitting on the sofa and earnestly explaining that I craved one thing above all: the luxury of being useful.

The phrase appeared prominently in the article and on the Now Teach website and seemed to strike a chord. Within a few months a thousand professionals of every variety had applied to Now Teach saying that they were interested in becoming teachers too. After a long process of sorting, we ended up with nearly four dozen guinea pigs, mostly teaching maths and science (where the teacher shortage is worst), all of whom started their new careers on the first day of September, along with me.

It is exactly a year since I gave that interview, but now I look at the phrase “the luxury of being useful” and want to laugh. Or cry.

I am writing this at 5.15am on a school day. This is earlier than I need to be up, but I am in a permanent state of agitation that is oddly reminiscent of being in love. I am wide awake before dawn, thinking obsessively about my lessons and new charges. The most luxurious thing that awaits me today will be a helping of school dinner in a polystyrene box.

And instead of feeling useful, for large chunks of every day I feel useless. I am a dunce with the interactive smartboard that is the centrepiece of every modern classroom. I sometimes get so flustered I make mistakes in my sums in front of class. Routinely I forget to take the electronic register. Or I mark students present when they are absent, then fail to figure out how to overwrite mistakes, leaving bureaucratic chaos in my wake.

There is only one thing I am not useless at, and that is standing at the front of the class and talking. I had thought this would be the bulk of the job, but alas it turns out to be a small part. Another thing I need to get better at: learning how to shut up.

Before I started, every teacher I came across issued the identical warning: this will be the hardest thing you have done. At the time I found this annoying. Yes, I knew teaching was hard. My mother was a teacher and my daughter is too. Its being hard was part of the attraction. Who wants to coast through the last quarter of their working lives?

Yet I couldn’t see why teachers wanted to claim a monopoly on hard jobs. Being a newspaper columnist can be hard; my fellow Now Teach trainees had done even harder things. One used to run an NHS hospital trust, one was a hostage negotiator and another worked for Nasa.

Eleven weeks in and I’m changing my mind. Writing columns turns out to be a relative doddle because there are only two things you have to crack: having a decent idea and writing it snappily. Teaching is hard in so many ways. There are at least a dozen roles you need to master — including performer, marshal, counsellor, clerical worker, mathematician, role model and nag — and you need to know exactly when and how to be which.

It is now 6.20am and I must stop writing and put on smarter clothes than I ever wore as a journalist. The school demands that pupils wear perfect uniform on the grounds that if they have their ties done up properly they are less likely to throw a desk at their teachers — which means staff need to do their bit and dress properly too.


It is nine in the evening and I’m too tired to write much. Today was not one of my better days. My explanation of how to round a number to two significant figures went straight over the heads of some of the pupils. I had such a bad time trying to control the mouse on the whiteboard, I declared despairingly, “It’s like playing The Golden Shot,” a reference that was lost on the class because the TV programme was last broadcast four decades before they were born.

A senior teacher who had observed my lesson handed me a long list of “targets” for improvement, and in an attempt to make me feel better said: “Teaching is like learning to drive. You think you’ll never be able to steer and change gear simultaneously. But you will.” I am not entirely reassured: I still can’t reverse-park after 30 years at the wheel.


The oddest thing about my state of professional uselessness is that it is not making me despondent. Instead I’m finding being a hopeless novice more stimulating than soul-destroying. And for this uncharacteristically sensible attitude I credit my advanced age.

When we started Now Teach we wondered how this new breed of relatively ancient trainees would differ from the younger ones. Various people suggested that energy would be a problem, but there is no sign of this being so. Teaching is tiring — it is tiring if you are 55 and tiring if you are 25. Instead, the beauty of being my age is that I know who I am. When my mistakes are pointed out, I don’t take it as an assault on my very being, as I might have 30 years ago. I take it as a sign that I’ve got to hurry up and improve.

Better still, even in my darkest moments I am not alone. Often I suspect the true reason I co-founded Now Teach was not to help to fill the teacher shortage, but for something more selfish. I wanted to have like-minded people to moan with when times were hard. And so it has proved.

To celebrate surviving our first four weeks in the classroom a few of us went to the pub. One Now Teacher who in a previous life had risen to the top of the police force stared into his beer and said: “I keep having to remind myself I used to be good at something.” The rest of us laughed despairingly.

I find I’m not alone in struggling with technology. Equally, most of us, softened by decades of the faux democracy of corporate life, find it hard to enforce the strict rules on which most of our schools depend. In my school the rules are so strict that calling out an answer in class when not invited or whispering to the person next to you are acts of subversion. I am slow at spotting what is going on under my nose, let alone stamping it out. Again, I must try harder.


This time a year ago, just after the launch of Now Teach, I got an email from a woman accusing me of being a Pied Piper, of leading bankers and lawyers to their certain deaths in the classroom. These softie professionals of a certain age would have nervous breakdowns after prolonged exposure to the classroom, she predicted.

So far, only two out of the 47 who started in September have given up. One told me that he felt lonely in the classroom and missed the teamwork of his old life. The other said that not only did he find teaching intolerably stressful, he despaired of it ever getting any better. He looked around at the young teachers in his school who all looked pale and shattered and thought: “I can’t do this.”

It is too early to declare that the remaining 45 of us will complete the year and go on to be teachers who, as the clich√© goes, change lives. A couple more are wobbling and I’m watching them with anxiety. But even so I’m not remotely repentant about what I’ve done. One of the guinea pigs who used to make documentary programmes says that teaching may or may not be the hardest thing she has done, but it’s certainly the best.

My pied pipe is out again because this year Now Teach is recruiting 80 trainees in London and Hastings, in East Sussex, and twice as many the year after. To them I am saying something that I am learning the hard way: teaching is brutal.

Yet even in my most painful moments there are four joys of teaching that I never lose sight of. The first is the students. For the first time in my working life I’m doing something that is not about me. Teaching is about them. When at the end of the first half-term I watched the heads of my pupils bent in silence over their test papers I felt a passionate involvement in their progress. So much so that when I was marking papers later at home, I found myself whooping out loud, “X has got the hard negative number question right!” much to the consternation of one of my grown-up children.

Second is the joy of being a trainee again. The view from the bottom of the ladder is far prettier than it appeared to me 35 years ago. Then I only wanted to climb. Now I am happy to stay put. I am responsible for nothing except my progress. There is also a delight in being junior enough to go to the pub on Friday with my fellow maths teachers, who seem benignly amused at having a woman who is older than their parents tagging along.

Third is the maths. For most of us, the subjects we loved at school were snatched away from us prematurely. After nearly four decades dealing with slippery, ambiguous words, I feel joy in returning to the certainties of maths, which I put aside when I finished my maths A level in 1977.

Fourth is the absence of boredom. Journalism is one of the most exciting jobs on earth, but even that is sometimes boring. Since September 1, I have not been bored for one second. I am so interested in what I am doing that I have become a bore to my old friends. One of them tried to discuss the new chairman of the Federal Reserve with me the other week, but I wouldn’t co-operate. All I wanted to talk about was how best to teach algebra to 11-year-olds.


I am finishing this article on a Sunday afternoon. Today, as on most Sundays, I went to Hampstead Heath to swim in the Ladies’ Pond with a group of friends. One of them said she would go on swimming throughout the winter because the shock of the cold water filled her with a euphoria that made her feel entirely alive.

I realised that this is partly what I love about being a trainee teacher. I feel that same mixture of excitement and dread before going back to school on a Monday as I do about getting into the water. I know that the shock of immersion will crowd out all other thoughts rooting me in the here and now.

Yet there is a difference between swimming and teaching. The legacy of my morning immersion in 9C water was that my extremities remained cold until lunchtime.

Tomorrow I hope to achieve something a bit more lasting. To make a tiny bit of progress in battle with the electronic board, while trying to show 32 students that a factorised quadratic is a thing of beauty.


The real cost of education in America

President Donald Trump and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., represent very different political perspectives in America and proposed different solutions, but supporters of both candidates recognize the same problem: the decline of the middle class across the nation. The cause of this decline is a combination of factors, but globalization, automation and education all rank at the very top of the equation.

The economics of globalization are simple. Big banks invest in areas overseas that multinational corporations develop, and they reap massive profits in return. Since labor is the largest expense of any business, profits are based on securing the cheapest possible labor. As a result, Americans simply cannot compete, and as factories move overseas, so does our tax base.

Those taxes pay for teachers, police, firemen and all other government services that define our standard of living. That standard of living is slowly slipping away, however. West Virginia is a perfect example of how this hollowing out of our tax base has irrevocably impacted job opportunities, our standard of living and government expenditures in areas such as public education and other state services.

The economics of automation are equally simple. Companies invest in computers, software and robotics because the cost of labor is, once again, a business’ largest expense.

Eliminating a job by automation saves a small fortune, especially when it comes to medical insurance, retirement, vacation and maternity leave. And automated resources are always available. This cuts the cost to run a business, but it means fewer jobs for more people who need high-tech skills to survive. This dictates that more Americans have to invest in long-term education to remain competitive.

Unfortunately, due to the disparate nature of our public educational system, there is a disconnect between real-world demands and what students study. There is also the problem of long-term college debt coupled with long-term underemployment, as many graduates can only find work in retail, fast food or hourly wage jobs without benefits.

While our economy desperately needs engineers, computer and medical professionals, many students go to school with no firm idea of what career is right for them. Too many go to law school after discovering that a lack of internships or apprenticeships makes them cannon fodder for the financial markets.

Sadly, even law degrees are overproduced to the point that some lawyers struggle to survive. In short, we suffer from too many degrees in low-demand jobs and not enough in high demand. This is precisely the sort of production imbalance that destroyed the Soviet Russian economy. An obsolete school system, coupled with the debt of ineffective college degrees, equals bankruptcy.

While Democrats and Republicans propose different solutions to the symptoms caused by globalization and automation, neither party will cure our country unless they treat the root cause: education.

We have too many people for too few jobs in certain fields and not enough people for plenty of jobs in other fields, and the result has been poverty and disenchantment.

That’s why so many Americans were willing to vote for a celebrity businessman from New York or a Democratic Socialist from Vermont. It’s also why so many big donors to both parties were fighting to block either candidate from radically up-ending the status quo. While the emerging global elite often benefit from ignorance, poverty and economic desperation, citizens in western democracies will not permit these elites to operate beyond the bounds of a social contract.

Nor will a growing number of Americans continue to go into debt for educations that do not pay. That is why the financial elites were so worried about the revolutionary rhetoric promulgated by Sanders or the violence in the streets promised by Trump. Where, then, is a realistic solution?

Since it is unlikely anyone can entirely stop globalization, or curtail the cost of a good education, the solution is to streamline our educational system to focus on real-world careers in areas where there is real-world demand.

A good start might be to examine tracking students in an appropriate educational program during their junior and senior year of high school. A fulfilling career starts with identifying individual aptitudes and intrinsic interests, and ultimately runs to your strengths.

Given a free hand, guidance and career, counselors can transform our educational system into one that gets back to the basis of any education, preparing people to contribute to society in a manner that maximizes their potential. But this must begin in high school and continue into college. It is imperative that we incorporate internships and apprenticeships as part of every degree program.

If our high schools and colleges fail to prepare graduates for the real world job market, those jobs will be taken by others elsewhere. This will continue to diminish our nation’s tax base, paving the way for further expenditure cuts in public education, and ultimately the number of faculty in those colleges and universities that are failing to provide their graduates with profitable skillsets. It would be a tragedy for generations of Americans to come in more ways than one.


No comments: