The agenda of some professors

Richard Rorty, who died not long ago, was a major postmodernist philosopher who reasoned that since we can never know an objective truth, we must instead pursue pragmatism. He was also a popular professor at Wellesley, Princeton, the University of Virginia, and Stanford. Rorty at least tended to face up to the implications of his beliefs and was honest about what he wanted to achieve. Here is what he thinks of his students, their parents, and the beliefs they tried to instill in them. In this agenda, he is by no means alone:

The fundamentalist parents of our fundamentalist students think that the entire ‘American liberal establishment’ is engaged in a conspiracy. The parents have a point. Their point is that we liberal teachers no more feel in a symmetrical communication situation when we talk with bigots than do kindergarten teachers talking with their students . . .

When we American college teachers encounter religious fundamentalists, we do not consider the possibility of reformulating our own practices of justification so as to give more weight to the authority of the Christian scriptures. Instead, we do our best to convince these students of the benefits of secularization. We assign first-person accounts of growing up homosexual to our homophobic students for the same reasons that German schoolteachers in the postwar period assigned The Diary of Anne Frank. . .

You have to be educated in order to be . . . a participant in our conversation . . . So we are going to go right on trying to discredit you in the eyes of your children, trying to strip your fundamentalist religious community of dignity, trying to make your views seem silly rather than discussable. We are not so inclusivist as to tolerate intolerance such as yours . . .

I don’t see anything herrschaftsfrei [domination free] about my handling of my fundamentalist students. Rather, I think those students are lucky to find themselves under the benevolent Herrschaft [domination] of people like me, and to have escaped the grip of their frightening, vicious, dangerous parents . . . I am just as provincial and contextualist as the Nazi teachers who made their students read Der Stürmer; the only difference is that I serve a better cause ( “Universality and Truth,” in Robert B. Brandom [ed.], Rorty and his Critics. Oxford: Blackwell, 2000, pp. 21-22).

Why do parents send their children to colleges that subject them to this sort of teacher?

HT: James Tallmon & Rob Spinney (two Patrick Henry College profs who are emphatically NOT like this!)

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Carl Vehse

    Richard Rorty, who died not long ago, was a major postmodernist philosopher who reasoned that since we can never know an objective truth, we must instead pursue pragmatism. He was also a popular professor at Wellesley, Princeton, the University of Virginia, and Stanford. Rorty at least tended to face up to the implications of his beliefs and was honest about what he wanted to achieve.

    How can it be said that a pragmatist, particularly one who faced up to the implications of his beliefs, was honest about anything, including what he wanted to achieve?

    Isn’t that like a relativist saying he is absolutely certain that nothing is absolute.

  • Carl Vehse

    Richard Rorty, who died not long ago, was a major postmodernist philosopher who reasoned that since we can never know an objective truth, we must instead pursue pragmatism. He was also a popular professor at Wellesley, Princeton, the University of Virginia, and Stanford. Rorty at least tended to face up to the implications of his beliefs and was honest about what he wanted to achieve.

    How can it be said that a pragmatist, particularly one who faced up to the implications of his beliefs, was honest about anything, including what he wanted to achieve?

    Isn’t that like a relativist saying he is absolutely certain that nothing is absolute.

  • Chris H.

    I don’t think the average American family is aware of this type of stuff in the universities. Most parents are proud that their kids get into Harvard, Yale, insert “prestigious” college here; they aren’t aware that people like Chomsky and others are poisoning the future of America by degrading the traditions and institutions that made us great. And to make it worse, we now know they are doing it intentionally.

  • Chris H.

    I don’t think the average American family is aware of this type of stuff in the universities. Most parents are proud that their kids get into Harvard, Yale, insert “prestigious” college here; they aren’t aware that people like Chomsky and others are poisoning the future of America by degrading the traditions and institutions that made us great. And to make it worse, we now know they are doing it intentionally.

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  • http://gpiper.org/katiesbeer Theresa K.

    “…I think those students are lucky to find themselves under the benevolent Herrschaft [domination] of people like me, and to have escaped the grip of their frightening, vicious, dangerous parents…”

    I’m in the midst of college loan apps for my soon-to-be freshman daughter and while it makes me a bit nervous at the price of sound teaching, I refuse to pay even a penny for unknown teaching. To read this excerpt just confirms my suspicions.

  • http://gpiper.org/katiesbeer Theresa K.

    “…I think those students are lucky to find themselves under the benevolent Herrschaft [domination] of people like me, and to have escaped the grip of their frightening, vicious, dangerous parents…”

    I’m in the midst of college loan apps for my soon-to-be freshman daughter and while it makes me a bit nervous at the price of sound teaching, I refuse to pay even a penny for unknown teaching. To read this excerpt just confirms my suspicions.

  • Matt

    This past Christmas, my cousin and I “debated” the reliability of the New Testament. Though raised in the LCMS, he was now very confident that it was false because a professor of his gave him a few lines about Q and some hand-waving. My aunt, suprised at this, said she didn’t realize she was paying tuition money for that sort of thing. But who hasn’t heard about professors doing that sort of thing in this day and age?

    The ‘correct’ path for a promising young American is kindergarten-H.S., then college, then a job. It never even occurs to us that this might not be in our children’s best interest. To be honest, I think “well, I’ve heard the stories, but I never thought…” has simply become an excuse for this never occurring to us.

    Even sadder is this: why were a few lines about Q and some hand-waving all it took in my cousin’s case? Why is the only lay apologetics class I’ve ever heard of in the LCMS the one I taught for a year at my last church? Why don’t we routinely take this up during or immediately after confirmation?

  • Matt

    This past Christmas, my cousin and I “debated” the reliability of the New Testament. Though raised in the LCMS, he was now very confident that it was false because a professor of his gave him a few lines about Q and some hand-waving. My aunt, suprised at this, said she didn’t realize she was paying tuition money for that sort of thing. But who hasn’t heard about professors doing that sort of thing in this day and age?

    The ‘correct’ path for a promising young American is kindergarten-H.S., then college, then a job. It never even occurs to us that this might not be in our children’s best interest. To be honest, I think “well, I’ve heard the stories, but I never thought…” has simply become an excuse for this never occurring to us.

    Even sadder is this: why were a few lines about Q and some hand-waving all it took in my cousin’s case? Why is the only lay apologetics class I’ve ever heard of in the LCMS the one I taught for a year at my last church? Why don’t we routinely take this up during or immediately after confirmation?

  • Orianna Laun

    Many public high school teachers have done an excellent job preparing students for college. (You’ve gotta read the Humanist Manifesto) Students at public high schools are fed smaller doses of this pragmatism until they can handle the large dollops they get at university. The parents either don’t see it or are told they are backwards and their children need to be forward thinkers; after all, we have to send our children to school, and public education is free. . .
    Too many churches have swallowed this pragmatism as well. They’d rather reach out to the culture rather than teach Christ and Him crucified, and in doing so have sacrificed doctrine to become as pragmatic as the culture.

  • Orianna Laun

    Many public high school teachers have done an excellent job preparing students for college. (You’ve gotta read the Humanist Manifesto) Students at public high schools are fed smaller doses of this pragmatism until they can handle the large dollops they get at university. The parents either don’t see it or are told they are backwards and their children need to be forward thinkers; after all, we have to send our children to school, and public education is free. . .
    Too many churches have swallowed this pragmatism as well. They’d rather reach out to the culture rather than teach Christ and Him crucified, and in doing so have sacrificed doctrine to become as pragmatic as the culture.

  • fw

    Lets rephrase:

    “When we CHRISTIAN American college teachers encounter ATHEISTIC SECULARISTS, we do not consider the possibility of reformulating our own practices of justification so as to give more weight to the authority of the SECULAR ATHIESTIC WORLD VIEW. Instead, we do our best to convince these students of the benefits of CHRISTIANITY.”

    Fair enough I say.

    I will meet any secularist any time and at any place to argue the merits of any social topic. I will give weight and authority to their arguments so as to better serve them with the logic of my own beliefs. I do not fear their ideas in any ways. I trust that the Truth has already in fact, won.

    I will use pure applied logic for this purpose with the sole intent of being a good neigbor and furthuring social good with no second intent of evangelizing (of course those of you who know me here know how hard it is to shut me up about Jesus…. yet still! honesty and respect are a part of all that…no hidden agendas…)

    Logic suggests that I begin with my neighbor by looking for COMMON ground. Trying to see things with my neighbor, in a winsome and inviting way, through the same logical lense. This looks alot like respect and basic courtesy and good manners to me.

    Who knows, maybe my neighbor will be impressed enough by my logic, by my sincere interest in him as a person and not as just someone to argue with or an enemy, and by my respect and polite willingness to listen to him (I still work hard at that “listening politely” and am surprised at just how much an a-theist can teach me…..), that he might become curious about my church.

    This happens almost weekly for me.

    There, at church, is where that secularism sans God crumbles and dies.

    There is no battle for me to fight. There are only friends to win. For secular good as a part of my good neighborly vocation. Jesus has fought the battle and won it forever.

    I would like for everyone to know Jesus.

    I am so glad that that does not depend on FW to make it happen. It simply happens when and where the Holy Spirit wills it.

    When it happens my joy is made more complete.

  • fw

    Lets rephrase:

    “When we CHRISTIAN American college teachers encounter ATHEISTIC SECULARISTS, we do not consider the possibility of reformulating our own practices of justification so as to give more weight to the authority of the SECULAR ATHIESTIC WORLD VIEW. Instead, we do our best to convince these students of the benefits of CHRISTIANITY.”

    Fair enough I say.

    I will meet any secularist any time and at any place to argue the merits of any social topic. I will give weight and authority to their arguments so as to better serve them with the logic of my own beliefs. I do not fear their ideas in any ways. I trust that the Truth has already in fact, won.

    I will use pure applied logic for this purpose with the sole intent of being a good neigbor and furthuring social good with no second intent of evangelizing (of course those of you who know me here know how hard it is to shut me up about Jesus…. yet still! honesty and respect are a part of all that…no hidden agendas…)

    Logic suggests that I begin with my neighbor by looking for COMMON ground. Trying to see things with my neighbor, in a winsome and inviting way, through the same logical lense. This looks alot like respect and basic courtesy and good manners to me.

    Who knows, maybe my neighbor will be impressed enough by my logic, by my sincere interest in him as a person and not as just someone to argue with or an enemy, and by my respect and polite willingness to listen to him (I still work hard at that “listening politely” and am surprised at just how much an a-theist can teach me…..), that he might become curious about my church.

    This happens almost weekly for me.

    There, at church, is where that secularism sans God crumbles and dies.

    There is no battle for me to fight. There are only friends to win. For secular good as a part of my good neighborly vocation. Jesus has fought the battle and won it forever.

    I would like for everyone to know Jesus.

    I am so glad that that does not depend on FW to make it happen. It simply happens when and where the Holy Spirit wills it.

    When it happens my joy is made more complete.

  • fw

    The truth needs no defense.

  • fw

    The truth needs no defense.

  • fw

    “How can it be said that a pragmatist, particularly one who faced up to the implications of his beliefs, was honest about anything, including what he wanted to achieve?”

    It serves no practical or goodly purpose to impugn the motives of someone or to go ad homem.

    If the stated purpose of someone is basically the golden rule, then my work in vocation is to confirm them in that purpose , seeking common ground to do so.

  • fw

    “How can it be said that a pragmatist, particularly one who faced up to the implications of his beliefs, was honest about anything, including what he wanted to achieve?”

    It serves no practical or goodly purpose to impugn the motives of someone or to go ad homem.

    If the stated purpose of someone is basically the golden rule, then my work in vocation is to confirm them in that purpose , seeking common ground to do so.

  • Matt

    FW, I think the situation is more complicated than that. Your paraphrase would be fair enough at a college openly dedicated to evangelizing its students. If, on the other hand, all the college’s official literature talked about is a fantasic learning environment, in-depth study of various topics, respect for all religions, etc, then putting your paraphrase into practice would be a breach of trust. Officially, at least, secular universities are not being as straightforward as Rorty.

    Secondly, I see no ad hominem in Carl’s post. If Rorty is indeed claiming that truth is unknowable and therefore he knows it is true that we should pursue pragmatism, that it’s true that homophobia is bad and fundamentalism is silly, etc, then he’s dishonest out of his own mouth. Calling him out on it isn’t impugning his motives, it’s describing the situation.

  • Matt

    FW, I think the situation is more complicated than that. Your paraphrase would be fair enough at a college openly dedicated to evangelizing its students. If, on the other hand, all the college’s official literature talked about is a fantasic learning environment, in-depth study of various topics, respect for all religions, etc, then putting your paraphrase into practice would be a breach of trust. Officially, at least, secular universities are not being as straightforward as Rorty.

    Secondly, I see no ad hominem in Carl’s post. If Rorty is indeed claiming that truth is unknowable and therefore he knows it is true that we should pursue pragmatism, that it’s true that homophobia is bad and fundamentalism is silly, etc, then he’s dishonest out of his own mouth. Calling him out on it isn’t impugning his motives, it’s describing the situation.

  • Don S

    Rorty’s statement is so outrageous it seems like satire. Unfortunately for him, he now knows that Truth is absolute.

    I am very glad my daughter is at PHC. I pray for my son, at another Christian liberal arts college, daily, because I know that this philosophy has invaded even there.

    Kevin Swanson, a home school leader in Colorado (his website is his name dot com (avoiding comment moderation)), is a visionary in this area, believing that “home schools are the monasteries of the new dark ages”. His thrust is that we who home school have rescued our children from this postmodernist philosophy in K-12, only to lose them between the ages of 16 and 26. His ministry is “Generations with Vision”. Inspirational and well worth checking out. Our job as parents is not over when we graduate the children from high school.

  • Don S

    Rorty’s statement is so outrageous it seems like satire. Unfortunately for him, he now knows that Truth is absolute.

    I am very glad my daughter is at PHC. I pray for my son, at another Christian liberal arts college, daily, because I know that this philosophy has invaded even there.

    Kevin Swanson, a home school leader in Colorado (his website is his name dot com (avoiding comment moderation)), is a visionary in this area, believing that “home schools are the monasteries of the new dark ages”. His thrust is that we who home school have rescued our children from this postmodernist philosophy in K-12, only to lose them between the ages of 16 and 26. His ministry is “Generations with Vision”. Inspirational and well worth checking out. Our job as parents is not over when we graduate the children from high school.

  • fw

    #10 matt.

    people can be logically inconsistent. to point that out is not ad homem. to say that it is dishonest is.

  • fw

    #10 matt.

    people can be logically inconsistent. to point that out is not ad homem. to say that it is dishonest is.

  • Anon

    Parents do this for a number of reasons.

    The first is that they just don’t believe that this could be true.

    Another is that they take offense, as I heard not too long ago “as you saying that we aren’t good parents!?” as if making a mistake, any mistake at all, made you a bad mother or father. So much for understanding Law and Gospel.

    A third is that the parents themselves don’t actually believe what they pretend to believe in church. There are social reasons that people go to church, especially in ethnic denominations. And if we teach them little after having them memorize a verse for confirmation, no wonder.

    There may be something to be said for home schooling or parochial schooling, then job, then college, then career.

    Matt, it isn’t just the land-grant colleges that do this. You’d be surprised at what gets taught and done and winked at in Christian colleges.

    Dan, and these ‘monasteries’ are very vulnerable to the wrath of the Norsemen – in this case, the civil government.

  • Anon

    Parents do this for a number of reasons.

    The first is that they just don’t believe that this could be true.

    Another is that they take offense, as I heard not too long ago “as you saying that we aren’t good parents!?” as if making a mistake, any mistake at all, made you a bad mother or father. So much for understanding Law and Gospel.

    A third is that the parents themselves don’t actually believe what they pretend to believe in church. There are social reasons that people go to church, especially in ethnic denominations. And if we teach them little after having them memorize a verse for confirmation, no wonder.

    There may be something to be said for home schooling or parochial schooling, then job, then college, then career.

    Matt, it isn’t just the land-grant colleges that do this. You’d be surprised at what gets taught and done and winked at in Christian colleges.

    Dan, and these ‘monasteries’ are very vulnerable to the wrath of the Norsemen – in this case, the civil government.

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  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Rorty’s views certainly are repulsive, although not terribly surprising. But I find myself similarly recoiling at the suggestion by some that the answer is, therefore, to send our kids to colleges where they won’t encounter this. I worry that there is all too much truth in Don’s saying (@11) that “home schools are the monasteries of the new dark ages” — that is, secluded from the culture and unable to influence it.

    It’s not so much the home (K-12) schools I worry so much about, since they concern children at a time when they are legally dependents and often not yet able to defend themselves and their faith. It’s the thinking that home schools are not enough, that we need to continue shielding our children from such influences (and shielding the culture from our influence) clear through college now. For some children, that will be a good solution, if they are still too immature in their faith to be able to withstand the attacks of Rorty’s ilk.

    But where does this line of thinking end? When do we go out and engage the culture? Or will there also be calls for not exposing ourselves to such attitudes in the workplace, for starting Christian companies as well?

    Sure, attending Rorty’s university may not have done much to sway Rorty, but couldn’t it have been beneficial for a Christian to stand as an example to all the other students being taught by him? Do we really want to cede the entire educational process to secularism? For some reason, I am reminded of a story I read so long ago, “La Casa Tomada” by Cortazar.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Rorty’s views certainly are repulsive, although not terribly surprising. But I find myself similarly recoiling at the suggestion by some that the answer is, therefore, to send our kids to colleges where they won’t encounter this. I worry that there is all too much truth in Don’s saying (@11) that “home schools are the monasteries of the new dark ages” — that is, secluded from the culture and unable to influence it.

    It’s not so much the home (K-12) schools I worry so much about, since they concern children at a time when they are legally dependents and often not yet able to defend themselves and their faith. It’s the thinking that home schools are not enough, that we need to continue shielding our children from such influences (and shielding the culture from our influence) clear through college now. For some children, that will be a good solution, if they are still too immature in their faith to be able to withstand the attacks of Rorty’s ilk.

    But where does this line of thinking end? When do we go out and engage the culture? Or will there also be calls for not exposing ourselves to such attitudes in the workplace, for starting Christian companies as well?

    Sure, attending Rorty’s university may not have done much to sway Rorty, but couldn’t it have been beneficial for a Christian to stand as an example to all the other students being taught by him? Do we really want to cede the entire educational process to secularism? For some reason, I am reminded of a story I read so long ago, “La Casa Tomada” by Cortazar.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Also, I find the question, “Why do parents send their children to colleges that subject them to this sort of teacher?” a bit odd. Is it really that parents send their children to colleges, or are children making this choice largely for themselves? And if the latter, is there a suggestion that parents should take that responsibility away from their (legally adult) children?

    But in answer to the question itself, even if we assume that colleges such as PHC are the answer for liberal arts types, where else would you have a student interested in math, science, architecture, engineering, and so forth, go?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Also, I find the question, “Why do parents send their children to colleges that subject them to this sort of teacher?” a bit odd. Is it really that parents send their children to colleges, or are children making this choice largely for themselves? And if the latter, is there a suggestion that parents should take that responsibility away from their (legally adult) children?

    But in answer to the question itself, even if we assume that colleges such as PHC are the answer for liberal arts types, where else would you have a student interested in math, science, architecture, engineering, and so forth, go?

  • Don S

    tODD @ 15,16 — You make a good point. If our objective is solely hiding/shielding our children from the world so that they are not polluted by worldly philosophy, then we have sadly missed the point for our existence here on earth.

    However, that is not a good reason for home schooling. It also was not the reason for monasteries. They existed to serve as repositories of Scripture, literature, etc. concerning the faith, for the purpose of promoting the Christian faith throughout the world. A British travel site, BritainExpress, says it this way: “Learning. Throughout the Dark Ages and Medieval period the monasteries were practically the only repository of scholarship and learning. The monks were by far the best educated mermbers of society – often they were the only educated members of society. Monasteries acted as libraries for ancient manuscripts, and many monks were occupied with laboriously copying sacred texts (generally in a room called the scriptorium). ” One could argue that monasteries were God’s chosen means for preserving Scripture and faith tradition during the medieval period.

    Home schooling is about discipleship. Just as Christ prepared the disciples for service by spending practically every waking hour with them for three years (no crash two week “Apostle” seminars for Him!), so do we prepare our children for engagement with the world through discipleship. We protect our children from worldly influenced during this period of time in order to enhance the discipleship environment, and limit ungodly distractions. The question is, when does that discipleship period end? And, should it end abruptly, or should it phase out? How engaged should we be with our children and their education during their college years?

    Regarding your post at 16, my “adult children” continue to look to their parents for financial support during their college years. Accordingly, I have every right to continue to exert influence in their young lives. Nothing magic happens at 18 which all of a sudden enables them to completely throw parental input aside and strike out on their own. It is a process. We (Mom & Dad) send our children to college, largely on our dime, and we will continue to have a great interest in their development. They have a legal right to strike out on their own, as you suggest, but unless they can articulate a very good reason for choosing that path, it would be poor stewardship for us to continue financially supporting them.

    As for your last point, my son is a chemical engineering major, and is not at PHC, obviously. We pray for him daily, and stay active in his life to help him process the teaching he is receiving with a godly perspective.

  • Don S

    tODD @ 15,16 — You make a good point. If our objective is solely hiding/shielding our children from the world so that they are not polluted by worldly philosophy, then we have sadly missed the point for our existence here on earth.

    However, that is not a good reason for home schooling. It also was not the reason for monasteries. They existed to serve as repositories of Scripture, literature, etc. concerning the faith, for the purpose of promoting the Christian faith throughout the world. A British travel site, BritainExpress, says it this way: “Learning. Throughout the Dark Ages and Medieval period the monasteries were practically the only repository of scholarship and learning. The monks were by far the best educated mermbers of society – often they were the only educated members of society. Monasteries acted as libraries for ancient manuscripts, and many monks were occupied with laboriously copying sacred texts (generally in a room called the scriptorium). ” One could argue that monasteries were God’s chosen means for preserving Scripture and faith tradition during the medieval period.

    Home schooling is about discipleship. Just as Christ prepared the disciples for service by spending practically every waking hour with them for three years (no crash two week “Apostle” seminars for Him!), so do we prepare our children for engagement with the world through discipleship. We protect our children from worldly influenced during this period of time in order to enhance the discipleship environment, and limit ungodly distractions. The question is, when does that discipleship period end? And, should it end abruptly, or should it phase out? How engaged should we be with our children and their education during their college years?

    Regarding your post at 16, my “adult children” continue to look to their parents for financial support during their college years. Accordingly, I have every right to continue to exert influence in their young lives. Nothing magic happens at 18 which all of a sudden enables them to completely throw parental input aside and strike out on their own. It is a process. We (Mom & Dad) send our children to college, largely on our dime, and we will continue to have a great interest in their development. They have a legal right to strike out on their own, as you suggest, but unless they can articulate a very good reason for choosing that path, it would be poor stewardship for us to continue financially supporting them.

    As for your last point, my son is a chemical engineering major, and is not at PHC, obviously. We pray for him daily, and stay active in his life to help him process the teaching he is receiving with a godly perspective.

  • Matt

    #12 FW,

    It’s not simple logical inconsistancy. Honest mistakes are certainly possible, but this is not the case here. One of the prime ways of detecting dishonesty is to compare what someone says with what they actually do (take a politician, for example). When somebody says there’s no truth but clearly acts as though there is truth, then one can discern that the person is being dishonest — probably dishonest with himself as well, but dishonest nonetheless.

    “The heart is deceitful above all things” Jer 17:9
    “They exchanged the truth of God for a lie” Romans 1:25 (exchanged, not mistook)

    I’m very glad to have been shown how much effort I spend lying to myself, and so with the Golden Rule… I believe we do our neighbors a disservice if we always assume, against Scripture, that they’re always being completely honest.

  • Matt

    #12 FW,

    It’s not simple logical inconsistancy. Honest mistakes are certainly possible, but this is not the case here. One of the prime ways of detecting dishonesty is to compare what someone says with what they actually do (take a politician, for example). When somebody says there’s no truth but clearly acts as though there is truth, then one can discern that the person is being dishonest — probably dishonest with himself as well, but dishonest nonetheless.

    “The heart is deceitful above all things” Jer 17:9
    “They exchanged the truth of God for a lie” Romans 1:25 (exchanged, not mistook)

    I’m very glad to have been shown how much effort I spend lying to myself, and so with the Golden Rule… I believe we do our neighbors a disservice if we always assume, against Scripture, that they’re always being completely honest.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Veith

    What I want to know in asking the question is not just why do parents subject their progeny to Rorty’s contempt for them and his desire to brainwash his students (willingly comparing himself to a Nazi interrogator), but also how good of an education can students receive from professors and institutions that do not believe in truth, that rather reject every kind of truth.

    Is the reason just the prestige of an elite school or of the elite status that a university education brings? Why do these schools have the status they do when they do not teach anything (unless you are in an engineering school or the like).

    The monasteries kept learning alive during the barbarian vandalism of the Dark Ages, and I fear that we are back in that state.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Veith

    What I want to know in asking the question is not just why do parents subject their progeny to Rorty’s contempt for them and his desire to brainwash his students (willingly comparing himself to a Nazi interrogator), but also how good of an education can students receive from professors and institutions that do not believe in truth, that rather reject every kind of truth.

    Is the reason just the prestige of an elite school or of the elite status that a university education brings? Why do these schools have the status they do when they do not teach anything (unless you are in an engineering school or the like).

    The monasteries kept learning alive during the barbarian vandalism of the Dark Ages, and I fear that we are back in that state.

  • http://castingoutnines.wordpress.com Robert Talbert

    Prof. Veith asked, “how good of an education can students receive from professors and institutions that do not believe in truth”. I say they can still get an excellent education — as long as they were brought up being able to think through and analyze arguments, defend themselves in an intellectual debate, and understand truth and morality in a deep rather than superficial way. Students like this can walk in to any university and learn a great deal because they are not pushovers. But students who suffer from too much protection are sitting ducks in this kind of environment.

    I used to teach at a Christian college, and we had a large number of homeschooled students in our student body. I noticed that the students’ parents chose homeschooling for one of two reasons: either (1) the parents had no other options (e.g. they were foreign missionaries) or really could provide a better education all around than the public schools, or (2) the parents wanted to protect their kids from the pernicious influence of secularism and “the world”. The first group provided us with some of the best students I’ve ever taught. The second group were uniformly the worst ones I’ve ever taught. There was no in-between.

    The difference comes in whether the student was brought up, not protected from the world but taught by his or her parents how to forcefully engage themselves with it to contend for truth. That’s the kind of homeschooling I’d like to see but rarely do. Too many homeschooling parents want, for well-intentioned reasons, to keep their kids safe from corruptive influences, but then forget that eventually the kids are going to really be out in the world and need to learn how to handle themselves intellectually.

    A lot of this just echoes what tODD (@15,16) brought up.

  • http://castingoutnines.wordpress.com Robert Talbert

    Prof. Veith asked, “how good of an education can students receive from professors and institutions that do not believe in truth”. I say they can still get an excellent education — as long as they were brought up being able to think through and analyze arguments, defend themselves in an intellectual debate, and understand truth and morality in a deep rather than superficial way. Students like this can walk in to any university and learn a great deal because they are not pushovers. But students who suffer from too much protection are sitting ducks in this kind of environment.

    I used to teach at a Christian college, and we had a large number of homeschooled students in our student body. I noticed that the students’ parents chose homeschooling for one of two reasons: either (1) the parents had no other options (e.g. they were foreign missionaries) or really could provide a better education all around than the public schools, or (2) the parents wanted to protect their kids from the pernicious influence of secularism and “the world”. The first group provided us with some of the best students I’ve ever taught. The second group were uniformly the worst ones I’ve ever taught. There was no in-between.

    The difference comes in whether the student was brought up, not protected from the world but taught by his or her parents how to forcefully engage themselves with it to contend for truth. That’s the kind of homeschooling I’d like to see but rarely do. Too many homeschooling parents want, for well-intentioned reasons, to keep their kids safe from corruptive influences, but then forget that eventually the kids are going to really be out in the world and need to learn how to handle themselves intellectually.

    A lot of this just echoes what tODD (@15,16) brought up.

  • http://castingoutnines.wordpress.com Robert Talbert

    And speaking of tODD, he asked “even if we assume that colleges such as PHC are the answer for liberal arts types, where else would you have a student interested in math, science, architecture, engineering, and so forth, go?”

    First of all, remember that mathematics is not only one of the liberal arts, it was two – arguably three – out of the four branches of the quadrivium (= geometry, arithmetic, astronomy, music). Secondly, there are lots of Christian colleges with strong math, science, and even engineering programs — although there ought to be more. And thirdly, I’ve bugged Prof. Veith with questions about why PHC only offers Euclidean Geometry as its one and only regular-credit mathematics course, so I won’t do so again. :)

  • http://castingoutnines.wordpress.com Robert Talbert

    And speaking of tODD, he asked “even if we assume that colleges such as PHC are the answer for liberal arts types, where else would you have a student interested in math, science, architecture, engineering, and so forth, go?”

    First of all, remember that mathematics is not only one of the liberal arts, it was two – arguably three – out of the four branches of the quadrivium (= geometry, arithmetic, astronomy, music). Secondly, there are lots of Christian colleges with strong math, science, and even engineering programs — although there ought to be more. And thirdly, I’ve bugged Prof. Veith with questions about why PHC only offers Euclidean Geometry as its one and only regular-credit mathematics course, so I won’t do so again. :)

  • anneofgreengables

    Mr. Talbot, your remarks about homeschoolers would carry so much more weight if the public school system was turning out quality students by the bagful.

  • anneofgreengables

    Mr. Talbot, your remarks about homeschoolers would carry so much more weight if the public school system was turning out quality students by the bagful.

  • anneofgreengables

    I’m sorry, Mr. Talbert. I”m sure my own remark would carry more weight if I spelled your name properly.

  • anneofgreengables

    I’m sorry, Mr. Talbert. I”m sure my own remark would carry more weight if I spelled your name properly.

  • Steve

    Since chemical engineering has come up and I’ve taught chemical engineering courses from freshman to PhD level at a number of large state universities over the past 25 years, including ones with quite liberal reputations, please let me make several personal observations which some of you may find interesting, based on the discussion above:

    1) I’ve frequently read about professors like Rorty, but I’ve yet to meet one (or at least one that sticks in my mind). While that attitude may be common in the liberal arts, it is not in the hard sciences and engineering, whether among students or faculty. This is anecdotal, of course, but a few months ago I did note that Phillip Johnson made a similar observation in his column in Touchstone.
    2) I’ve met/known many Christian engineering faculty who are completely open about their faith to faculty and students (in fact, two of my collaborators are fellow LCMS members). In my experience at state universities, of American-born engineering faculty, the majority are openly known to be active in their churches. I don’t know any engineering faculty who openly express attitudes like Rorty’s toward their students’ faith.
    3) As far as I know, Valparaiso is the only Lutheran school with an engineering program – but with only 3 majors (and no chemical engineering) and no MS or PhD programs it provides extremely limited opportunities. There are very few comprehensive engineering programs at Christian colleges or universities (not counting schools like Duke). Notre Dame is the only one that comes immediately to mind in chemical engineering, and I don’t think that’s the type of school people posting here have in mind when they discuss Christian higher education.
    4) Engineering majors require 15-18 cr (10-15% of the total) of humanities and liberal arts (including at least 2 English courses – no, technical writing doesn’t count). Geometry and algebra are remedial subjects for engineering students (i.e., no credit given toward graduation). Liberal arts majors do not have comparable requirements in math and science – yet they frequently tout the breadth of their education, often by drawing a direct contrast with engineering majors.

  • Steve

    Since chemical engineering has come up and I’ve taught chemical engineering courses from freshman to PhD level at a number of large state universities over the past 25 years, including ones with quite liberal reputations, please let me make several personal observations which some of you may find interesting, based on the discussion above:

    1) I’ve frequently read about professors like Rorty, but I’ve yet to meet one (or at least one that sticks in my mind). While that attitude may be common in the liberal arts, it is not in the hard sciences and engineering, whether among students or faculty. This is anecdotal, of course, but a few months ago I did note that Phillip Johnson made a similar observation in his column in Touchstone.
    2) I’ve met/known many Christian engineering faculty who are completely open about their faith to faculty and students (in fact, two of my collaborators are fellow LCMS members). In my experience at state universities, of American-born engineering faculty, the majority are openly known to be active in their churches. I don’t know any engineering faculty who openly express attitudes like Rorty’s toward their students’ faith.
    3) As far as I know, Valparaiso is the only Lutheran school with an engineering program – but with only 3 majors (and no chemical engineering) and no MS or PhD programs it provides extremely limited opportunities. There are very few comprehensive engineering programs at Christian colleges or universities (not counting schools like Duke). Notre Dame is the only one that comes immediately to mind in chemical engineering, and I don’t think that’s the type of school people posting here have in mind when they discuss Christian higher education.
    4) Engineering majors require 15-18 cr (10-15% of the total) of humanities and liberal arts (including at least 2 English courses – no, technical writing doesn’t count). Geometry and algebra are remedial subjects for engineering students (i.e., no credit given toward graduation). Liberal arts majors do not have comparable requirements in math and science – yet they frequently tout the breadth of their education, often by drawing a direct contrast with engineering majors.

  • http://castingoutnines.wordpress.com Robert Talbert

    Steve (@24): Lots of smaller Christian colleges have “3:2″ engineering programs set up with larger universities. These have students attending the small Christian college for 3 years working towards a BA/BS in some kind of engineering preparatory degree, and then transferring to the larger university to do 2 years of straight engineering coursework. At the end of 5 years they get a degree from their small college and an engineering degree from the university. I’m the director of such a program at my college (students can get a BA in math or chemistry from us and then a BS in computer, electrical, mechanical, or biomedical engineering from Purdue) and I was involved with another at Bethel College in Indiana.

    They are great programs, and since students do attend the Christian college for three years and don’t take any courses at the large university outside the engineering department, it somewhat ameliorates the issues some have with anti-religious indoctrination in other parts of the university.

    But you’re right, most Christian colleges/universities don’t have the kind of comprehensive engineering programs that bigger uni’s do, mainly just because of the expense of running such a program and hiring faculty (who could just as easily make 6 figures in industry as make ~$50K/year at a small college). That’s why I think the 3:2 programs are a win-win for students and the universities they attend.

  • http://castingoutnines.wordpress.com Robert Talbert

    Steve (@24): Lots of smaller Christian colleges have “3:2″ engineering programs set up with larger universities. These have students attending the small Christian college for 3 years working towards a BA/BS in some kind of engineering preparatory degree, and then transferring to the larger university to do 2 years of straight engineering coursework. At the end of 5 years they get a degree from their small college and an engineering degree from the university. I’m the director of such a program at my college (students can get a BA in math or chemistry from us and then a BS in computer, electrical, mechanical, or biomedical engineering from Purdue) and I was involved with another at Bethel College in Indiana.

    They are great programs, and since students do attend the Christian college for three years and don’t take any courses at the large university outside the engineering department, it somewhat ameliorates the issues some have with anti-religious indoctrination in other parts of the university.

    But you’re right, most Christian colleges/universities don’t have the kind of comprehensive engineering programs that bigger uni’s do, mainly just because of the expense of running such a program and hiring faculty (who could just as easily make 6 figures in industry as make ~$50K/year at a small college). That’s why I think the 3:2 programs are a win-win for students and the universities they attend.

  • Manxman

    It’s mostly about power and money – not education and learning. Education is a huge, self-serving business entity and a tool to exert power via accomplishing social change. I think a majority of kids go to college to get the certification they need attain the holy grail of American life – the GOOD JOB. The education lobby has succeeded in its efforts to delude people into thinking that you’re worthless unless you’ve spent enough of your time and money worshipping at their altars, and they are now the gate keepers into employment & economic viability. It’s amazing the degree to which people will compromise their values or their childrens’ lives when money and jobs are involved. A good portion of the college curriculum is nothing more that an opportunity for secularists and other people with a social agenda to coerce a captive audience to be indoctrinated with their dreck. And in this highly competitive world where degrees mean so much, you either play their game or you don’t get the certification you need.

  • Manxman

    It’s mostly about power and money – not education and learning. Education is a huge, self-serving business entity and a tool to exert power via accomplishing social change. I think a majority of kids go to college to get the certification they need attain the holy grail of American life – the GOOD JOB. The education lobby has succeeded in its efforts to delude people into thinking that you’re worthless unless you’ve spent enough of your time and money worshipping at their altars, and they are now the gate keepers into employment & economic viability. It’s amazing the degree to which people will compromise their values or their childrens’ lives when money and jobs are involved. A good portion of the college curriculum is nothing more that an opportunity for secularists and other people with a social agenda to coerce a captive audience to be indoctrinated with their dreck. And in this highly competitive world where degrees mean so much, you either play their game or you don’t get the certification you need.

  • Don S

    Dr. Talbert:

    I graduated with a mechanical engineering degree through a 3:2 program (Houghton College/University of Delaware). You are correct — it is an excellent academic option and the education I received, both academically and spiritually, has served me well over the years.

    A small bone to pick with you regarding the second paragraph of your post @ 20. #’s 1 and 2 are not either/or, or at least they don’t have to be. First, regarding your point # 1 — almost any parent can provide a better education than is received through the public schools. Public schools are politically correct factories — mandated to waste a significant portion of the education day teaching P.C. garbage, and designed so that teachers hand off under-achieving students to the next teacher at the next grade level. There is no one caring person who shepherds a student through the learning process, year after year. Contrast that approach with one where a loving parent sits down with their child day after day, year after year, understanding that child’s every need and wanting nothing more than to see that child succeed. Home schooling parents fail when they don’t trust their God-given ability to teach their children in the way God designed for it to happen, and farm them out to a series of ad hoc classes taught by people who can’t even get a regular teaching job.

    As for your point #2 — we protect our children from some of the world’s influences while they are being discipled. It is not shielding for the sake of shielding, it is shielding for the purpose of reducing distraction until the child is fully equipped to face the world on his/her own. Not unlike monasteries, which shielded monks so that they could focus on their education and meditation.

    I, too, have been pushing administration at PHC to consider expanding into hard science majors — it’s an issue of money and other resources, of course. Someday…… :)

  • Don S

    Dr. Talbert:

    I graduated with a mechanical engineering degree through a 3:2 program (Houghton College/University of Delaware). You are correct — it is an excellent academic option and the education I received, both academically and spiritually, has served me well over the years.

    A small bone to pick with you regarding the second paragraph of your post @ 20. #’s 1 and 2 are not either/or, or at least they don’t have to be. First, regarding your point # 1 — almost any parent can provide a better education than is received through the public schools. Public schools are politically correct factories — mandated to waste a significant portion of the education day teaching P.C. garbage, and designed so that teachers hand off under-achieving students to the next teacher at the next grade level. There is no one caring person who shepherds a student through the learning process, year after year. Contrast that approach with one where a loving parent sits down with their child day after day, year after year, understanding that child’s every need and wanting nothing more than to see that child succeed. Home schooling parents fail when they don’t trust their God-given ability to teach their children in the way God designed for it to happen, and farm them out to a series of ad hoc classes taught by people who can’t even get a regular teaching job.

    As for your point #2 — we protect our children from some of the world’s influences while they are being discipled. It is not shielding for the sake of shielding, it is shielding for the purpose of reducing distraction until the child is fully equipped to face the world on his/her own. Not unlike monasteries, which shielded monks so that they could focus on their education and meditation.

    I, too, have been pushing administration at PHC to consider expanding into hard science majors — it’s an issue of money and other resources, of course. Someday…… :)

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Don S (@27), I have to ask: did you go to a public school yourself? Have your children ever? If so, I’m sorry that your experience (and, no doubt, that of others) was so horrible. And yet your claims about public schools are so comical to me, if for no other reason than my own experience proving them false — not to mention their ridiculous, broad overgeneralizations.

    Look, I’m not going to argue that every public school is great or even good — it would be just as foolish as arguing as every home school is great or even good. You can’t argue that, because it depends almost wholly on the teachers. And home schoolers aren’t free from the problems of poor teaching. Can you claim otherwise? You’d have a hard time convincing me that home schoolers do not also push an agenda, from the way you argue.

    But in no way could my parents have taught me AP calculus, AP computer science, AP Spanish, AP Physics, Band, or any other course I took in my later years in high school. Nor do I remember anything about “P.C. garbage”. Perhaps you will argue that schools have only gone downhill as you describe in the past 10 or so years? Is it possible there are still good public schools?

    Some parents are not very good teachers. If this were not so, it would be obvious. Children of those parents would do better to have someone else teach them.

    As a side note, when did Lutherans get so defensive of monasticism?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Don S (@27), I have to ask: did you go to a public school yourself? Have your children ever? If so, I’m sorry that your experience (and, no doubt, that of others) was so horrible. And yet your claims about public schools are so comical to me, if for no other reason than my own experience proving them false — not to mention their ridiculous, broad overgeneralizations.

    Look, I’m not going to argue that every public school is great or even good — it would be just as foolish as arguing as every home school is great or even good. You can’t argue that, because it depends almost wholly on the teachers. And home schoolers aren’t free from the problems of poor teaching. Can you claim otherwise? You’d have a hard time convincing me that home schoolers do not also push an agenda, from the way you argue.

    But in no way could my parents have taught me AP calculus, AP computer science, AP Spanish, AP Physics, Band, or any other course I took in my later years in high school. Nor do I remember anything about “P.C. garbage”. Perhaps you will argue that schools have only gone downhill as you describe in the past 10 or so years? Is it possible there are still good public schools?

    Some parents are not very good teachers. If this were not so, it would be obvious. Children of those parents would do better to have someone else teach them.

    As a side note, when did Lutherans get so defensive of monasticism?

  • Don S

    tODD @ 28:

    I’ll take your thoughts paragraph by paragraph:

    1. Yes, I did. No, they didn’t. They had a far better education than I did. Good public schools are the exception, rather than the rule. Even governmental agencies and the teachers’ unions admit that, especially when they are clamoring for an ever greater piece of our national wealth. So you think the concept of one size fits all, factory learning, where the poor performers pass so they can be pushed along to the next teacher, is the best approach to education?

    2. Not every public school is horrible. Not every home school is great. We can agree on that point. However, the evidence is that home schoolers perform academically, on average, much better than public schoolers. I’m not sure what you mean by your last sentence. If you mean that home schooling parents desire to inculcate their own values into the children God has given them, rather than godless values imposed on the public schools, than I’m pleased to agree with you. Our “agenda” for our children is that they learn to love God, to trust Christ for their salvation, and to live out their lives in service to Him. None of those values, fundamental to the life of a Christian, are taught in the public schools.

    3. We taught our children AP courses, and then arranged for them to take the AP tests for those subjects through a local private school. They did very well. My son played varsity baseball through a local private school. Our home school organization offers band, choir, drama, etc. Our children are not deprived of those types of extra-curricular activities in any way.

    4. Agreed, but the number of such parents is remarkably small. It is mostly a matter of desire and commitment on the part of the parents.

    5. I’m not Lutheran, but I think the point being made is that monasteries served a very important purpose during the Dark Ages. That is not exactly a defense of monasticism, is it?

    What is missing in your response is any acknowledgment of the value of home schooling in discipling our children. The fact of the matter is that we only have so many waking hours to raise our children. Public school (or any traditional school, for that matter) takes them away from us for 6 1/2 waking hours per day, 180 days or so per year, plus travel to and from school, and any extra-curricular activities they may be involved in. Two or more hours of homework per day limits the parents to about two waking hours per school day spent with their children. During that prime waking time, secular values are being imposed on our children. How can that be good, if the whole purpose of our having children is to raise them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord?

  • Don S

    tODD @ 28:

    I’ll take your thoughts paragraph by paragraph:

    1. Yes, I did. No, they didn’t. They had a far better education than I did. Good public schools are the exception, rather than the rule. Even governmental agencies and the teachers’ unions admit that, especially when they are clamoring for an ever greater piece of our national wealth. So you think the concept of one size fits all, factory learning, where the poor performers pass so they can be pushed along to the next teacher, is the best approach to education?

    2. Not every public school is horrible. Not every home school is great. We can agree on that point. However, the evidence is that home schoolers perform academically, on average, much better than public schoolers. I’m not sure what you mean by your last sentence. If you mean that home schooling parents desire to inculcate their own values into the children God has given them, rather than godless values imposed on the public schools, than I’m pleased to agree with you. Our “agenda” for our children is that they learn to love God, to trust Christ for their salvation, and to live out their lives in service to Him. None of those values, fundamental to the life of a Christian, are taught in the public schools.

    3. We taught our children AP courses, and then arranged for them to take the AP tests for those subjects through a local private school. They did very well. My son played varsity baseball through a local private school. Our home school organization offers band, choir, drama, etc. Our children are not deprived of those types of extra-curricular activities in any way.

    4. Agreed, but the number of such parents is remarkably small. It is mostly a matter of desire and commitment on the part of the parents.

    5. I’m not Lutheran, but I think the point being made is that monasteries served a very important purpose during the Dark Ages. That is not exactly a defense of monasticism, is it?

    What is missing in your response is any acknowledgment of the value of home schooling in discipling our children. The fact of the matter is that we only have so many waking hours to raise our children. Public school (or any traditional school, for that matter) takes them away from us for 6 1/2 waking hours per day, 180 days or so per year, plus travel to and from school, and any extra-curricular activities they may be involved in. Two or more hours of homework per day limits the parents to about two waking hours per school day spent with their children. During that prime waking time, secular values are being imposed on our children. How can that be good, if the whole purpose of our having children is to raise them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord?

  • fw

    #18 matt

    great. I would apply all you say about yourself to myself. But to assert that in others is another matter.

    we are ALL sinners. i can assume that we all have the same sins lurking or manifest. but it is not for me to call someone dishonest. they may just be inconsistent. maybe painfully and obviously so. I CAN point out those inconsistencies, ask that person to admit to that, IF i know him personally…. otherwise, probably best to leave the ad homems alone….

    in some ways the man was honest. more than some of us. I can truly identify with most of the sins of the nazis. if i happen to do that and say that I am no better than they are and that my ways are no better, that does not mean that I approve of that behavior. it does not make me a nazi. the writer that vieth mentions seems to be saying that the methods are the same used by everyone, nazis, the fundamentalists, and even himself. what justifies things is the ends. he is saying that means are justified by ends. that is his error.

    his observation that fundamentalists seem to agree with him that means are justified by ends seems right exactly on the money to me.

    now THAT is precisely what scares me.

  • fw

    #18 matt

    great. I would apply all you say about yourself to myself. But to assert that in others is another matter.

    we are ALL sinners. i can assume that we all have the same sins lurking or manifest. but it is not for me to call someone dishonest. they may just be inconsistent. maybe painfully and obviously so. I CAN point out those inconsistencies, ask that person to admit to that, IF i know him personally…. otherwise, probably best to leave the ad homems alone….

    in some ways the man was honest. more than some of us. I can truly identify with most of the sins of the nazis. if i happen to do that and say that I am no better than they are and that my ways are no better, that does not mean that I approve of that behavior. it does not make me a nazi. the writer that vieth mentions seems to be saying that the methods are the same used by everyone, nazis, the fundamentalists, and even himself. what justifies things is the ends. he is saying that means are justified by ends. that is his error.

    his observation that fundamentalists seem to agree with him that means are justified by ends seems right exactly on the money to me.

    now THAT is precisely what scares me.

  • Matt

    #30 fw,

    For the record, I would not normally call somebody dishonest in a conversation unless I had a lot of credibility with that person. I would normally point out the discrepancy and hope they realize the dishonesty themselves. Nevertheless, this thread was not a conversation with the dead professor nor was it a communication to him.

    I guess where we differ is that I do think it’s my place to “call a person dishonest” as it were. In a particular instance on a particular topic, and assuming the the person’s honesty makes a difference in how I act, I only have two choices. I can act as though a person is being honest, or I can act as though a person is being dishonest. The choice is mine and therefore my duty is to make the best determination I can based on the evidence I have. If I were to refrain from making a determination, I would still be acting as though it were one way or the other; I would just be doing it absentmindedly–and probably less accurately.

  • Matt

    #30 fw,

    For the record, I would not normally call somebody dishonest in a conversation unless I had a lot of credibility with that person. I would normally point out the discrepancy and hope they realize the dishonesty themselves. Nevertheless, this thread was not a conversation with the dead professor nor was it a communication to him.

    I guess where we differ is that I do think it’s my place to “call a person dishonest” as it were. In a particular instance on a particular topic, and assuming the the person’s honesty makes a difference in how I act, I only have two choices. I can act as though a person is being honest, or I can act as though a person is being dishonest. The choice is mine and therefore my duty is to make the best determination I can based on the evidence I have. If I were to refrain from making a determination, I would still be acting as though it were one way or the other; I would just be doing it absentmindedly–and probably less accurately.

  • kerner

    I don’t know if anyone is reading this thread anymore, and I wish I had read it sooner.

    But, I have banged heads in disagreement with Manxman frequently enough to feel some obligation to support him when I think he is right. When Manxman says that Education is a huge self serving business entity, and that a great many students access it, not out of a desire for knowledge, but rather as a credential for a GOOD JOB, he is right on the money. People treat an education like it is a product that can be purchased (when I enroll my child in a “good” school, I expect him to receive a “good” education). If junior comes out of the school without good grades and honors, then the school has failed to provide what it was paid to provide. This is why we often have parents contending with educators over whether their child should receive a bad grade or some disciplinary penalty. I’m not paying tuition or taxes for bad grades or a poor disciplinary record. I’m paying for a “good education” and I expect to see some results.

    I also question how much difference the school makes at the primary and secondary levels. Frankly, if you took the most prestigious private school in your city and the most chaotic inner city public school, and switched the student bodies, does anybody here seriously believe that the inner city student body would become a bunch of Einsteins and the preppy student body would become a bunch of drop-outs? I believe that the most important factor in whether individual students learn is the common expectations of the students’ parents, then comes the individual personality of the individual student’s parents, then comes the talent and ambition of the individual student, then, in a very distant fourth place, comes the quality of the faculty and facilities.

  • kerner

    I don’t know if anyone is reading this thread anymore, and I wish I had read it sooner.

    But, I have banged heads in disagreement with Manxman frequently enough to feel some obligation to support him when I think he is right. When Manxman says that Education is a huge self serving business entity, and that a great many students access it, not out of a desire for knowledge, but rather as a credential for a GOOD JOB, he is right on the money. People treat an education like it is a product that can be purchased (when I enroll my child in a “good” school, I expect him to receive a “good” education). If junior comes out of the school without good grades and honors, then the school has failed to provide what it was paid to provide. This is why we often have parents contending with educators over whether their child should receive a bad grade or some disciplinary penalty. I’m not paying tuition or taxes for bad grades or a poor disciplinary record. I’m paying for a “good education” and I expect to see some results.

    I also question how much difference the school makes at the primary and secondary levels. Frankly, if you took the most prestigious private school in your city and the most chaotic inner city public school, and switched the student bodies, does anybody here seriously believe that the inner city student body would become a bunch of Einsteins and the preppy student body would become a bunch of drop-outs? I believe that the most important factor in whether individual students learn is the common expectations of the students’ parents, then comes the individual personality of the individual student’s parents, then comes the talent and ambition of the individual student, then, in a very distant fourth place, comes the quality of the faculty and facilities.


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