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As a placidly retired teacher, I know well the outrageous left-wing bias of school curriculums insofar as their content is concerned. Hopefully I demonstrated that to some degree in my last missive. But it’s not just content about which one must be wary; it’s also the process by which the content (or lack thereof) is transmitted to students. This is called pedagogy, and the reigning ideas on it are also severely demented. One might even suspect a deliberate plan to oppress the American people in state-sponsored ignorance, if one were conspiratorially minded. I don’t believe those theories, but one can understand how some do.

Take Kagan, an educational publishing and consulting company well within the mainstream of educational thought in 2015 America. According to Kagan, the most important skills for schools to inculcate are “emotional intelligence” because “In today’s world teamwork skills are employability skills.” True to their word, the teaching fads they extol feature mindless student interaction which is blithely free of any academic content. As for “emotional intelligence,” that is a mere fantasy which emanated from the mind of a dreamer and self-styled educational theorist named Howard Gardner.

 

Professional Development

I was forced to endure Kagan’s professional development not once, but twice. I remember these events in bits and snatches, as though the recollections of a bad dream the morning after. One image of the training which comes to mind involved all the hapless teachers walking around the room in a kind of pathetic procession, to the tune of music, I seem to recall, and then stopping on the cue of a signal to partner up with another teacher next to them. We were then supposed to share elements of our personal biography with our partner at two minute clips: what are your hobbies, what college did you go to, etc. Next the other person would say, on instruction from the Kagan spokeswoman, “Thanks for sharing that,” or some other encouraging remark. The “listening” partner then had to recite his partner’s biographical information to a third party.

The spokeswoman for Kagan was an earnestly stupid woman with short blonde hair, probably in her 30’s. She would have been attractive I suppose if her persona were not blighted by the nonsense which she extolled and the smug manner in which she made her tendentious presentation. I do not note this as to objectify her, thou feminists, but only to observe this interesting phenomenon by which an individual’s moral worth affects their perceived attractiveness.

As for her manner of argumentation, it was decidedly of the straw man variety. Here’s a traditional classroom (desks in rows, students unhappy and bored). Here’s what Kagan wants you to do (everyone having fun, learning at least twice as much, no discipline required!). She displayed a grotesque sideways smirk prior to taking a jab at her various and sundry straw men, always old-fashioned, benighted educators who have not yet received the Good News from Kagan.

Other memories from this professional development include being forced to play tag with other teachers—yes, tag. And I distinctly remember some hand-holding. Once we were permitted to sit, we were not left alone quite yet. We then were made to have “shoulder buddies” (the brainless woman sitting to your side, with a vacant, yet smiling expression) and “face buddies” (the obese woman sitting across from you, inevitably sipping a big gulp).

The various buddies at my table were my partners in vacuous, yet highly structured dialogue. For example, we had to choose a shape which was supposed to somehow reflect our identity. I chose a triangle. Considering my state of mind, I most likely chose this object because out of all the shapes, it most resembled a projectile weapon. I was then to stand and explain to my various “buddies” why on Earth I chose this shape as a symbol of my innermost being.

As you may have gathered, the spokeswoman for Kagan was having teachers perform tasks that were in effect a model for what we were supposed to have students do in our own classrooms. Speaking of a very similar educational exercise back in the ‘70s, Professor Richard Mitchell opined “…even in the worst of our schools, there are no students as stupid as the teacher who would do such a thing, so they probably manage to find something less inane to talk about for those two minutes…” He concludes: “It takes up some time that might have been spent in studying something concrete and useful but admittedly more difficult” (Less than Words Can Say 85-86). Alas, not only do we waste students’ time with these ventures into progressive education, there is an opportunity cost to consider as well.

 

The Gender Divide

The mostly female attendees thought the Kagan regimen was a hoot, with not a hint of skepticism as to the educational value, or to put it more simply, what the point of all this was. One of the few male attendees, whom I attempted to confide in with a comment along the lines of, “Are you kidding me with this?” failed to acknowledge his accord. Like a captive of Islamic terrorists, he just kind of shrugged in resignation. But significantly, he did not return after lunch.

This brings up the question of females’ faculty for skepticism and critical thinking, in particular when they are presented with information from an “authority.” If the presenter is wearing a tie when he says it, well, that means it must be true. Look, they made a graph, so that’s science. PowerPoint has a similar mystic effect. Case in point, Kagan’s literature presents some studies with laughably small sample sizes and outlandish claims of success for their practices (And allows them henceforth to use the impudent “research has shown…”). This proved sufficient for every single attendee, all of whom were either too indifferent or too illiterate to notice such obvious methodological flaws.

If you’re philosophically opposed to any of the premises of progressive education, you’re considered just mean and uncooperative. This fairly summarizes my experience with colleagues, again, overwhelmingly female, in both ed school and in a professional educational setting. As for male colleagues, most could be considered more or less indifferent to any kind of debate in this regard; but to their credit, they were at least less apt to be taken in by such charlatans.

As for me, you can already glean my thoughts. Yet like a dissident in a totalitarian regime, I learned to keep my head down. To quote Emily Dickinson on the tyranny of the majority: “Demur—you’re straightaway dangerous/ And handled with a chain.” It creates quite a stir in the education field to dissent, even if the reigning wisdom is “much madness” indeed.

If one didn’t know any better, he might surmise that the education industry is devised by women, taught mostly by women, and for the benefit of… girls. But can that really be? Has the pendulum swung that far? It is plausible, I’m afraid. Yet I suspect other motives and actors afoot beyond the usual feminist tyranny. I would just suggest that the dominant female demographics of teachers, and even administrators, make them especially amenable to Kaganesque folly.

That said, these women do not necessarily represent females in general, perhaps being self-selected as the most bleeding heart liberals who chose a “helping profession.” To add to that, they are being indulged in their most permissive instincts, and in turn are indulging students in the utmost foolishness. In that sense we have a vicious cycle. Such well-meaning female teachers do not need smiles of encouragement in their fostering of “cooperative learning.” They need a figure of real intellectual authority to raise an eyebrow at such antics, and firmly steer them in a more sensible direction.

I should also add as a caveat that girls do not learn more efficiently under what I characterize as a feminine type of instruction. Educational research is of course fraught with contention, but every credible study indicates that direct instruction is the best method, period. (Direct instruction being the antithesis of “student led” learning.) And my experience also tells me that, whatever girls might prefer or think they prefer, they certainly learn more under traditional methods of instruction.

Under a more authoritative teacher, female students breathe a sigh of relief, liberated from the nebulous cloud of a progressive education classroom (to say nothing of male students’ liberation). If left to their own devices, perhaps girls would establish a Kagan-like environment. But that hardly proves it to be the method which is in their own best interests.

 

Conclusion

To be fair, one can take Kagan’s exercises and plug in actual academic content. Students can turn to their “shoulder buddy” and discuss theme in Of Mice and Men, and then after two minutes, when the teacher claps or snaps or whatever, take up the same subject with their “face buddy.” The premise here is that students are going to teach each other just by talking and constant interaction. It’s the old John Dewey delusion that learning is a social activity. This premise is pushed in ed school heavily, to say the least.

Dewey’s ridiculous theories surely serve as their premise; but, ever watchful, I felt distinctly that there were other reasons for promoting such bizarre teaching methods. I found these suspicions to be difficult to communicate to my fellow teachers. There was a complete inability on their part to consider any ulterior motives of a company whose packaging and marketing portrays nothing but cartoony images of fun and happiness. Thus we see the common man (and by that phrase we may certainly include most teachers) is most often unable to see beneath the appearances of things to penetrate the deeper ideological meanings.

My readers, having gotten this far, are better equipped to ponder such meanings than were my colleagues at that time. Granted, this can only be speculative. Firstly, I do not think the executives at Kagan and similar organizations are stupid, though one might be tempted to think so. This means that there is some deliberation at play. Secondly, I do not think they want students to become stupid. This is despite the popular right-wing conspiracy theory that public school officials wish to enstupidate (a Derbism) American children.

More plausibly, the driver behind progressive education in general seems to be a hankering for a collectivist society, which incidentally aligns with the stated goals of the Democrat party. This in turn will bring about a glorious era of equality between the races and sexes. The more substance-less the teaching, the less opportunity for students to differentiate from one another. Further, there is a distinct pattern of feminization in such teaching methods, which also ties into collectivism insofar as it is anathema to boys. This is sure to snuff out any male genius, which is in itself an affront to such egalitarian dreams.

Malcolm Unwell is a lachrymose chronicler of America gone wrong, and aspires to be a malevolent voice in journalism. Contact him.

 
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  1. In my understanding, there are really two forms of learning – the kind you learn from books, and the kind you learn from watching/interacting with other people. Analytical intelligence would correlate strongly with the first, not so much with the second.

    Most fields of human endeavor involve the second kind of skill. Sports, business, and even highly specialized fields like surgery require more practice, observation and critique than any real capacity for analytical thinking.

    But it is the first kind of learning that leads to breakthroughs, and allows small numbers of men to dominate. This kind is involved in STEM and even the social sciences.

    The first kind allows highly hierarchical, asymmetric growth, while the second kind only allows gradual improvements.

    • Agree: Tom Welsh
  2. Curle says:

    By an unfortunate series of events, and a little nepotism, my workplace became burdened last year with a mid 30s man who obtained a degree at one of those for-profit open admission all-but-diploma mill-diploma mills that the feds have been going after lately (one good thing happening in this world). This fellow is what people in an earlier age would have called ‘not college material’ but in this new dawn of total egalitarianism, even the horrifically dumb feel the pull of status that only a ‘college’ degree can offer, thus the growth of these for-profit open admission rip-off schools (http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2008/06/in-the-basement-of-the-ivory-tower/306810/) seeking to meet this demand with an appropriately worthless education. Not surprisingly, the only skill set or interest this fellow picked up during his purported time in college was an interest in the kind of diversity-emotional sensitivity-motivational training tripe you reference.

    I’m coming to sense that there is an entire circle of BS operating here; schools start teaching this motivational subject matter as if it were serious education thus creating a supposed market for persons teaching such tripe thus paving the way for federal loans to spur the growth of these for-profit open admission diploma mill colleges. These for-profit colleges then target dumb students upon whom they can prey and who, though incapable of much else, can nevertheless master what falls under the heading of motivational or diversity training and therefore imagine themselves part of the cognitive elite even with an IQ well below 100.

    .

  3. Renoman says:

    We are raising large herds of Morons because of this crap. The Chinese will bury us.

  4. TheJester says:

    A few years ago I completed a master’s degree at a prestigious engineering school. Many of the professors had substituted directing teaching with group-related projects. The students were set free to do research and write a group paper. Although the course content was allegedly about IT, the course sessions focused on group dynamics. The entire team was evaluated and graded on the quality of the paper without any reference to individual effort or contribution. The rationale was that THIS is the environment one finds in corporations.

    So …, one student showed up for the first session; he was assigned to our team. Then, he disappeared for the remainder of the course, showing back up at the last two sessions. His excuse was that he got married and had been busy. The team paper was turned in and graded. We got a B; the absentee student got a B. The professor had not even noticed that the absentee student did not attend the course sessions.

    Soon after, the engineering school appointed a radical feminist as its President with an agenda to get more women into STEM. Somehow the two — the group interactions in place of course content and the new President — seemed related. They perhaps represented the underlying feminized culture of the institution, emphasizing social group interactions in place of content … AT AN ENGINEERING SCHOOL.

  5. Anonymous • Disclaimer says: • Website

    The author comes across as being negative in general. What is wrong with participating in some silly ice-break exercise during a training session? However, I agree that the left wing values of the teachers’ union and others undermine the value of training.

    • Replies: @Dwindlyn
  6. Marian says:

    Sounds like the dynamics of the women’s clubs of yesteryear. On the surface you had the elected and committee process. The real power would be the queen bee, whose husband was prominent in the community. All the ladies would grovel, except for the few rebels that earned perpetual refreshment/kitchen duty til they quit. All the women had their small groupings, sat in the same seats, always in the same committee, and never deviated. We’ve come along way baby. Hope all that easy sex of the sixties and seventies was worth it for you guys. Pity the kids are the ones paying for it

    • Replies: @Kyle McKenna
  7. Tom Welsh says:

    Yes. Human personality ranges quite widely, from the autistic at one end to the fluffy bubbleheaded party animal who “can’t do math” at the other. Professor Simon Baron-Cohen’s “systemizing-empathizing” spectrum models this range quite well. The cleverest and most learned people are bound to be towards the autistic end of the range, if only because such people prefer to work alone and prefer thinking to feeling and socializing. The older “introvert-extravert” spectrum is also similar.

    It seems likely that the USA has always had an extravert culture, valuing social and communal activities and those who do well in company over solitary activities. Nowadays this has become so pronounced that introverts are seriously considered deviant or even mentally ill. Corporate culture goes to extremes in stressing the need to be a “team player”, “flexible”, and “fitting in” – all code words for sheep-like obedience.

    Educational theories such as those described in this article risk sacrificing the essential activities of learning and mental training to mere social engineering. It is particularly the most gifted who are let down by the politically correct cult of enforced mediocrity – unfortunate, as almost all progress is due to a tiny handful of the gifted.

    • Replies: @Malcolm Unwell
    , @Jeff77450
  8. @Tom Welsh

    Exactly. Funny you should mention that because the introvert/extrovert spectrum also plays into this phenomenon, as you say. But I didn’t want to touch on that or else it would have made this too long. Perhaps another article.

  9. Anon7 says:

    What are women doing in your children’s classrooms? You might well ask. I did.

    When my son started middle school (6th grade), I received an interim grade report that he was getting a “C” in math. Since this seemed improbable to me, I scheduled a meeting with the teacher. When I asked how grading was divided up, the (female) math teacher informed me that she divided grading into tests, homework and class participation exercises. When I asked how my son was doing, she responded that he was getting a “C” in all three areas.

    Ok, I said, describe a typical test; she responded that it consisted of about 30 questions. And how many questions did my son answer correctly? She responded that he got the correct answer on all of the test questions.

    When I asked how a perfect score results in a grade of “C”, she said that he needed to fully write out all of his work to show how he got the answer. [Note that girls excel at penmanship exercises.] I asked if she thought he was cheating, or was amazingly lucky. [I got a dark look for that one.] No, she responded, I’m sure he knows how to answer the questions. Did everyone get all the answers right? No, the average was somewhere around 70% correct answers.

    My son’s homework grade of “C” was based partly on the need to show work (he only wrote down [correct] answers). However, much more “work” was needed, in the form of maintaining an elaborate homework notebook, with all assignments indexed and in the correct order. [Note the introduction of clerical work.] When I asked why this was needed, she responded that this would help students refer to all of her helpful corrections to their work. I responded that since he only supplied correct answers, he didn’t need to keep track of helpful corrections. [I got another dark look for that one.]

    My son’s class participation consisted of intense attention when a new subject was introduced, then staring out the window/grudging participation when this was followed by forty minutes of some sort of group activity. [Note that teacher-approved socializing replaces actual subject matter learning.] This was when I found out that very little content-filled lecturing is going on in math class.

    So how did my son the “C” math student turn out? When I went home, I asked him about writing out his work. He felt that it was tedious, and his penmanship is terrible; he also felt that he had little interest in or aptitude for clerical work. I told him he had two choices: 1) stare out the window until he graduated from high school with “C’s” in math or 2) double up on math so he could place out of a year or two and get to math that was more interesting. He opted for choice 2.

    So how did he turn out? After finishing all the available public school math in his junior year of high school, he took honors math analysis at our local university (their math department is in the top 10 nationally – benefit of living in a university town), and aced it. He is halfway through undergrad, and is excelling in graduate school math courses; he works in a lab doing computational biology. Not bad for a student who women math teachers saw as a “C” student. It turns out that the clerical work, socializing and penmanship practice that women math teachers required of him in middle school does not have much bearing on math education.

    I wonder how many other boys with less attentive parents (or no dads) lost out on their chance to excel at math, or the sciences, thanks to women doing what feels good for them in classrooms.

  10. JustJeff says:

    Ah man this takes me back to elementary school (I’m 24 so it wasn’t all that long ago). Back to the days of participation awards, everyone’s a winner, group coloring projects, all that stupid $hit.

  11. Tom_R says:

    KAGAN PUBLISHING IS A JEWISH COMPANY.
    MAL EDUCATION: ANOTHER JEWISH PLAN TO DESTORY GOYIM?

    Thanks for the interesting article, Sir. It is shocking to see such garbage being palmed off as “education”. I have noticed that this pseudoeducation and maleducation are being started at earlier ages.

    First of all, the most important things to be taught to students are math and science (and reading/writing) and they require being alone, so you can concentrate.

    Talking or interacting with other people destroys concentration and makes it hard to study math and science. You have to turn off all radios, close all windows and CONCENTRATE all alone to understand how to prove the roots of a quadratic equation, etc.

    You have to study on your own. You have to learn to use your own brain.

    Kagan Publishing is a Jewish company run by a Jewish man named Spencer Kagan. He promotes what he calls “cooperative learning”. Their tactics are not conducive to real education. Why is he doing that?

    http://www.gratz.edu/courses/listing/the-cooperative-classroom-kagans-instructional-practices

    Judaists believe they are a “special race” called “Jews” and the white people are “goyim” who tried to destroy them (Crusades, Holocaust, etc.), so they must destroy them first through multiculturalism, porn, alienism, and by making them stupid through maleducation and thereby make them remain in total control of the Judaists. If the goyim are smart and educated and cultured, they will unite against the Judaists, figure out Jewish scams, and they will rise up against Jewish control. This Jewish strategy is called “defile, then destroy.” (O’Connor).

    The ulterior purpose of “cooperative learning” is to prevent the goyim from becoming smart and distract them from actually learning, and to force them to socialize instead with other races, so they will become “multicultural” and “tolerant” and will tolerate Jewish deviance.

    The people must reject this scam. Write to your educational institution and tell them you do not want to be brainwashed by this scam.

    • Replies: @Kyle McKenna
  12. @TheJester

    @SomethingtoSay

    Imagine if this were the way civil engineering were taught..

    What consequences for infrastructure/construction in the future ?

  13. Aurelius says:

    Most women understand this sort of thing. It makes perfect sense to the estrogen inclined. Just leave the men out of this nonsense, if you don’t mind.

  14. Biff says:
    @TheJester

    How do you spot a Techy that’s an extrovert?

    He’s starring down at your shoes…..

  15. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @Anon7

    My God, what a nightmare. Your story is exceptionally informative. Maybe you should lengthen it and publish it in a more prominent place. Your son is lucky you got involved.

  16. Flower says:

    The article is a fairly typical tale of 21st century woe. So what. Three days ago, I read a report stating that the GAO has determined that Medicaid had LOST over 14.7 BILLION dollars to FRAUD. In 2014. Alone. And all America can talk about is Cecil the Lion. For many Americans who are even peripherally interested in their children, just the fact that their kids make it home from school alive and not drug addicted is a significant victory. And if any learning happens in the process, well, that’s just an extra. A bonus. The place where it is easiest to get illegal drugs in this country, with the widest variety of choice, is NOT Colorado or Washington State, it’s your local high school.

    What needs to be done as a means to correcting our insanity is counter-intuitive, but it supported by data and common sense. What needs to be done is to immediately reduce education budgets by half, with a preparation to reduce that half by yet another half starting in the succeeding school year. And with all budget reduction being taken from the ranks of Administration – yes, including salary cuts and RIFs. The amount of money that we throw at education IS the problem. When you have the kind of money that we dedicate to educating our young, you will attract some good people, by by far, that kind of money attracts the scammers, the lazy, the con artists, the Elixir salesmen, in short, School Administration. You take the money away and those types will remove themselves. If they have to actually have to WORK for a living, they will seek easier pastures.

    Why is it that our grandparents got a better education than our children, when we spend so much more resources on education? The answer is hard to accept because of it’s obviousness: all that “much more money” is NOT being spent on education. The money is being wasted on propaganda, lobbying, graft, sleaze, bribes, pay-offs, and out right theft. And Americans just love it that way. The reason your kid’s teachers are being led in circles and taught to do nothing worthwhile, the reason your children are coming out of school dumber than posts, is because THAT IS WHAT AMERICA WANTS.

  17. Jack_W says:

    In elementary-, middle-, and high school, I was in the band. We had a blast. We should-a been arrested.

    Extracurricular activities is where you learn “emotional intelligence”.

    Music is a tough discipline. Especially if you are not gifted, and really, nobody (<0.5% maybe) is gifted.

    The good thing is that The Kagans never go out for any extracurricular activities (probably because it requires extra work and practice).

    Too bad you there isn’t a test for emotional intelligence, so that people couldn’t game the system.

  18. My goodness, Malcolm, this is a brilliant piece of writing!

    Expensive ‘education’ academics (many, God help us, with “PhDs”) must justify their dubious existence by regularly turning out this sort of garbage – utterly inapplicable to any real classroom or human interaction.

    Teachers, supposedly, belong to an educated elite: and again supposedly, they have the degree of individualism necessary to stand in front of a class of thirty or more and hold their attention. The herd-like behavior that you so vividly describe in that “professional development” session is however quite typical. Seemingly, you were the only one there to find the exercise ridiculous. My belief is that the vast majority of people want to be led and not have to think for themselves – perhaps they want to blend with the herd and not stand out as targets for predators

    I have been exposed to a good many similar events ranging from courses in ‘management’ to the staged introduction of a new company president to the rank-and-file of a billion dollar corporation – in all of these the participants are made to behave like children, in the most unnatural fashion – maybe accosting one another with your “thanks for sharing that” instead of, perhaps, “how’s it hangin’?” Yet, as you relate, the vast majority go along and anybody who protests receives universal opprobrium.

    I might note, in passing, that the above-mentioned president did NOT fall into the spirit of the proceedings and displayed his contempt quite obviously – he never managed to bring his people to love him.

    Child-like choreographed events like these are demeaning to adults and to children alike. Do you notice how many people talk down to kids? They even adopt a special voice and use ‘easy words’! One teacher of my acquaintance, talking about butterflies, objected to the use of the word “chrysalis” and said “we say ‘cocoon’ .. it’s easier for them!” Even though they are two quite different things.

  19. Anon7 says:

    As you might imagine, the kind of loose class “structure” that Malcolm Unwell is writing about [“…mindless student interaction which is blithely free of any academic content”] is also conducive to letting incompetent teachers hide out for decades. If they don’t need to present specific content, they don’t need to master the material.

    As it happens, my daughter also had trouble learning from another female math teacher at the same middle school. I arranged a conference with this woman, and asked for her help in solving a particular kind of math problem that was difficult for my daughter.

    I went to the board and wrote “1 is to 2 as 5 is to x” (or 1/2 = 5/x) and asked her to solve for x. She hemmed and hawed and mumbled something about “the method of correspondences” and something about “using ratios”. I said that I had read about that in my daughter’s math book, but found it confusing. Could she please go to the board and show me? I held out the chalk to her.

    She wouldn’t take the chalk, she wouldn’t go to the board; she said that she needed to get back to grading homework. She was unable to solve that problem; she was in her mid-forties and had been “teaching” math since being awarded her teaching certificate. Unbelievable.

    I was shocked. But, having despaired of the public school system, I then arranged for my daughter to be tutored (to the tune of $65/week) for the remainder of the school year, which got her through. She is starting graduate school in Public Health (full scholarship!) in the fall, so no harm done. Well, not much harm, anyway. She still has a bit of residual math phobia.

    BTW, I found out years later that the only way to get rid of this 7th grade math teacher, apparently, was to promote her to some sort of district administrative coordinator position at $90,000 per year. But at least she’s not “teaching”.

    Sorry about ranting; I know many others must have tales of woe. Thanks for listening, Fred, and everyone. Thanks also to Malcolm Unwell; the more articles like this, the better for everyone with kids going into the school system. Forewarned is forearmed.

  20. MarkinLA says:
    @TheJester

    We had a lab when I was doing undergraduate CS stuff. Luckily it was only worth 2 units versus a normal 4 unit course. We were building code for those old Intel 8085 type the hex code in systems Intel built. For some reason the only two women in the class and I were grouped together.

    Every exercise consisted of me asking them what do they think and they returning a blank look at me. I just took control, and plowed ahead. They mostly just did the write up. I didn’t have a lot of CS experience and would ask the TA a lot of questions during the lab. Or work was about middling some groups I could tell had a better handle on things so I don’t doubt we didn’t make a good impression.

    Later on I found out the two women who never asked any questions and never contributed anything got A-s and I got a B+. I found this TA and asked why my grade was lower and he said something to the effect that he didn’t think I knew what I was doing. I let him know that I did all the work and let it go as changing the grade would have no effect on my GPA.

  21. AndrewR says:
    @Anon7

    I wonder how common your son’s experience is these days. I’m only about ten years older than your son but I never had to deal with the “group participation” grade in math class. My classes were always 20-30 minutes of the teacher teaching and the rest of it independent time to work on the homework. I would always do my homework while the teacher was explaining the lesson and I almost always finished that day’s homework before class ended.

    I do think having legible penmanship is an extremely important skill. I would never accept poor penmanship from any student in any course unless they had an actual medical condition preventing them from writing legibly. Granted I have never been a teacher or a parent but I’m not sure why you just meekly accepted your son’s poor penmanship. I’m not saying I agree with making students write out all the steps in a math problem (although this would help cut down on cheating) but I would be damned if I let my child go through school with poor penmanship.

    • Replies: @AnotherDad
    , @Anonymous
  22. Flower says:
    @MarkinLA

    Interesting. My first thought was how much could a person learn from such a doofus of a TA? But then I thought about it, and maybe the TA was teaching you more than just Computers Science. Is that what they call “life experience”?

  23. Tom_R says:

    COOPERATIVE LEARNING = TURNING PEOPLE INTO SHEEP.

    One thing I want to add is that the ulterior motive behind all this “cooperative learning” is not only to not teach, but to turn kids into sheep. That is what the state and the corporations want.

    Team work, team player, etc. all buzz words to glorify sheeple. This indicate that they do not want intelligent self-thinking students-just subservient sheep.

  24. @ Marian says

    As I remember it, the gal’s were hornier than the guy’s during the sixties.

  25. @AndrewR

    I do think having legible penmanship is an extremely important skill. I would never accept poor penmanship from any student in any course unless they had an actual medical condition preventing them from writing legibly.

    Please, change your name to Andrea and do the full Jenner.

    Superior fine motor skill is a female skewed trait. It’s a “gathering” trait. Lots of boys–especially lots of young boys, but even plenty of men–don’t have it.

    Men on the other hand are far superior at say figuring out the trajectory of a moving object, and just superior spatial skills, especially 3-D skills–hunting traits–than women.

    By all means the kid can\should be dinged on his crappy handwriting–as a kid i chronically got “Ds” in “Writing” (back when that meant handwriting), while getting As in math, history, geography–the content oriented subjects. I lived. But you don’t ding the kid in math or anything else for crappy handwriting (a less and less useful skill anyway). You tell me “wow, you’re really getting math, your handwriting needs work”.

    The whole paint by numbers, stay within the lines, do as your told, form over content emphasis is the female (totalitarian) program and it’s death to a good number of men–and death to male energy that civilization and its advance depend upon.

    If you want civilization, then sheep should not be leaders–and worse impose sheepness on the potential men among them.

    • Replies: @Anon7
  26. Art says:

    Ho hum – Howard Garner – yet another half cocked Jew – like the Common Core guy – destroying America education.

    Two to one, this guy read this nonsense somewhere and decided to make himself famous by making it his own idea.

  27. Anon7 says:
    @AnotherDad

    Yes, AndrewR, penmanship is useful, but I don’t know about “extremely important”. My penmanship was poor throughout my schooling (it still is) but I also lived.

    I’d also note studies that show that girls pick up fine motor skills like penmanship much earlier than boys; it’s another area in which education is skewed toward females. Boys often struggle with it in high school, while girls get it in elementary school.

    That’s why systems like Kagan (that women love) make sure that there is plenty of socializing along with busywork like filing and penmanship exercises disguised as “showing your math work” on the most obvious problems. Plenty of socializing means that the verbally-dominant hens can dominate the classroom pecking order.

    My wife and I also felt that handwriting would fall by the wayside; typing on keyboards (real and virtual) would replace this ancient skill.

    However, my son is now getting his karmuppance in his struggles with LaTeX, the elaborate means by which scientific and mathematical notation is accomplished in printed submissions. Good handwriting might be easier!

  28. ganderson says:
    @Anon7

    Sounds familiar. I’m a public school teacher- I know many teachers that have such a grading system. The flip side of your son’s issue is kids who do show their work, do all their hw, and keep a neat notebook. I’d wager a lot of them got better grades than your boy, yet know almost nothing. The goal is to make sure those kids feel good about their experience- It’s a load of old cobblers.

    • Replies: @Anon7
  29. Borachio says:

    I believe that “enstupidate” is a Fred-Reed-ism, not a Derb-ism.

  30. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @AndrewR

    “I do think having legible penmanship is an extremely important skill. ”

    So do I and it is a discipline too. If you look at old letters, written in Victorian times and done with a steel-nib pen, dipped in an inkwell, the handwriting is just beautiful: full of individual style and character – extremely legible too. Mind you, if speed were an issue that could have been a problem, I tend to think they wrote much slower back then.

    For myself, I have poor handwriting. In my day we had to do a lot of writing in university (college) exams; multiple choice was not yet invented and I took physics – I often wonder if my grades would have been better if my writing had been easier to read. Also, beautiful writing is less tedious to look at and if you are handed two papers, one written badly and the other with panache: yet identical otherwise, don’t you think the well-written one would get a better reception?

    Sorry to digress but emotional intelligence never came up when I was at school.

  31. Anon7 says:
    @ganderson

    Ganderson says “kids who do show their work, do all their hw, and keep a neat notebook… got better grades than your boy, yet know almost nothing. The goal is to make sure those kids feel good…”

    I don’t think that’s the goal. First, I note your use of “kids” rather than the (probably) more accurate “girls”. And yes, it helps them maintain their stratospheric self-esteem, but more importantly to parents and colleges, it lets girls have straight “A’s” in math in spite of their inferior skills, so they get into colleges that they can’t quite handle. Once there, they can’t be told to leave (Title IX sees to that), so now the college maintains the fiction, and awards them a watered-down degree. God forbid they get a job in which math is necessary.

    As I’m sure you’re aware, girls average much better grades than boys in high school math, and yet do much worse on standardized tests like the SAT.

    Apparently, I have too much time on my hands today, as well as a persistent burr under my saddle. It’s just that this is happening to all of our kids, not just mine.

  32. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Great article!
    I only disagree as to whether the “dumbing down” is conspiratorial. See John Gatto and Charlotte Iserbyt for evidence. Hint: it is.

  33. Dwindlyn says:
    @Anonymous

    Yeah, it hurt my feelings too that he was being negative about something that is at root sinister and destroying educational possibilities for millions of children. Not to mention it is conditioning adults to disengage from any judgement or take any responsibility for this system. Just play the game. It seems like he could say nicer things about something so harmless.

  34. Dwindlyn says:

    I think I was at the same conference. About a dozen times. Most public school professional development is not unlike a lobotomy. Has anyone endured Cognitive Coaching? However, as harmful as it is for the students, I wonder if the greater harm might come from the conspiracy of silence by all of us teachers, subjected to such idiocy who know better. Mr. Unwell commented on the men in his article who just tune out the insanity. I am not sure that is good enough anymore.

  35. @MarkinLA

    Meh, you were an idiot for not saying anything. Yeah, I imagine it didn’t hurt your GPA, why not get what’s due? Anything less is just lazy.

    • Replies: @MarkinLA
  36. @Marian

    Hope all that easy sex of the sixties and seventies was worth it for you guys.

    Oh great…Born too late, what did I miss?

  37. @Anon7

    Yep… I had more than one teacher who said she graded you “according to how good you were when you started.”

    That is, she made an estimate of your competency before the class even began, then graded according to “improvement”.

    Needless to say, we didn’t argue with teachers who were grading us. But it never occurred to these teachers that 1) their estimates at the outset were necessarily rough, to put it kindly and 2) according to the standard thus enumerated, they were actually attempting to grade themselves.

  38. @Tom_R

    This OTT screed displays all the hallmarks of a ‘false flag’ operation

  39. @Anon7

    “This was when I found out that very little content-filled lecturing is going on in math class.”

    Unless you have tenure or a union, content-filled lecture, in math or any other class, is going to have you looking for another job very soon. “Everyone knows” that “research shows” this to be the “least effective” teaching method.

  40. MarkinLA says:
    @Sean the Neon Caucasian

    In a 2 unit class what is the difference .5 points. And I did say something. Do you realize what you have to do to change a grade at a university if the teacher doesn’t agree? It’s not like I had anything else to do with 16 units the next quarter.

  41. I am astonished. I shall probably read the rest of the column and most likely agree well enough to forward it to conservative friends who care about the dumbing down in Australian education generally and in many important particulars. But…but…

    When I read “Howard Garner” (sic) I stopped to Google the name then checked the whole page for reference to “Gardner” in the comments. Howard Garner is not famous enough for Google and Howard Gardner hasn’t been mentioned in the Comments (though one star contributor who is on my skip list mentioned “Howard Garner” as Jewish…).

    It is one of the last 80 years’ improvements in schooling that dyslexia is not punished severely. Still, is it too much to expect a teacher author to check spelling, and, in particular to check the spelling of a key Proper Noun?

  42. @TheJester

    Don’t be coy, sir! Which school are you talking about?

    • Replies: @TheJester
  43. rod1963 says:

    The thing about public schooling is it’s like most things the government runs: The worse a school does the more money the government throws at it to improve student performances which in turn attracts many snake oil salesmen in the guise of ph.d’s who sell the teachers all sorts of miracle cures for their hordes low IQ students. And since the quick fixes don’t fix anything, the staff invariably calls in more high priced “consultants” and “experts” to assess and correct the situation with more dodgy solutions. This is repeated for eternity.

    Of course the end product – the students pay for this in terms of receiving a very sub-standard education and effectively coming out of school knowing nothing.

  44. TheJester says:
    @secretaryns

    Oh, you force me against my will! Damn, my name will go down in infamy: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. On the good side, my Rensselaer program had some singularly outstanding professors … professional accountants teaching accounting, ex-Wall Street brokers teaching how to evaluate firms, and (my favorite) the retired head of product development at GE relating his “war stories” … what he got right and what he got wrong.

    But I could see the handwriting on the wall: diversity was the future of the institution. How many women, how many minorities, and what will it take to make the numbers. This has ruined, I fear, every institution that has been sucked into the fantasy.

  45. Jeff77450 says:
    @Tom Welsh

    Very well said. –signed, an introvert

  46. During my bankster years I had to endure one of these things,

    I pointed out to the squat husky swarthy teacher that I was the ultimate minority, a white Anglo-Saxon, Episcopalian heterosexual who lived in the East Village- there were two of us, we’d have a beer on the last Thursday of the month.

    The outrage was fun to watch.

    I was treated to similar levels of outrage a couple of years later when I was pressured to add some diversity to my small team and strongly pointed toward an African American woman, that I hired a genuine African from Ghana was apparently not the game plan.

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