Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Taking A Gender Studies Course So You Don’t Have To

By Professor Doom

     YouTube is such a fine resource, even if a bit tainted. Before getting to today’s discussion, I want to discuss that taint.

      For years there have been complaints that YouTube promotes pedophilia. I know, that sort of accusation is all the rage right now, but it was funny how despite the fact that anyone could see many channels that were, well, “iffy,” nothing was ever done.

      “Freedom of Speech” rings thin here, since YouTube has been on a crusade to shut down conservative thought, or any thought not in line with their way of thinking. PragerU is even bringing a lawsuit against them,  because even Prager’s very tame, 5 minute videos on the Constitution of the United States are being censored by YouTube, and many, many other representatives of the alternative media have likewise been censored.

      Meanwhile, videos of lightly dressed children, with phone numbers and contact information in the description box, are untouched…YouTube just doesn’t have time to shut down such questionable activity, even as brief discussions of legal details on the founding of this country receive scrutiny and censorship.

     Stefan Molyneux finally had enough of it, and demonstrated just how bad the pedophilia on YouTube was. He showed that their search engine, if you typed in “How to have sex…” would autocomplete with a variety of pedophilic activity options. (I’d link if I could find the video, but what I have linked might be close enough.) In response to the query, the engine would provide videos which in turn have ordering information and such.

     The gentle reader should understand that the search engine was autocompleting that way because that’s what it had been asked, many times before.

     Now, Molyneux is a pretty big figure, and within hours of his posting that video, many thousands of viewers got to see with their own eyes that YouTube, “for some reason,” just didn’t seem to care about pedophilic videos on their channel, even though it had been brought to their attention many times before. 

      After Molyneux’s reveal, YouTube had no choice but to, very reluctantly I’m sure, do the right thing. They shut down over 50,000 channels--YES, channels—that were very clearly pedophile related, less than 48 hours after the knowledge became just too public. YouTube clearly could have done so at any time, it was only the publicity that was the problem. Keep in mind that YouTube does not want conservative ideas discussed, but has no problem with pedophilia unless it becomes too well known to be ignored…they had many months to do the right thing before Molyneux’s video after all.

     We really should consider what’s happening in this country that major companies can support pedophilia like this, and moreover can do so without legal repercussions.

      Anyway, despite YouTube’s pedophilic predilections, and censorship of non-Leftist ideas (does anyone else worry that these two things are related in some way?), it’s still an amazing source of knowledge, if you sift carefully through the videos (and realize that the “good stuff” will never appear in the “trending” section even if everyone on the planet is watching it).

      One video has a student discussing her experiences taking a Gender Studies course. As always, I have a few comments to add.

     One thing she says early on about Gender Studies courses is very striking:

“…have to take in order to graduate.”

     I admit I’m a bit morally conflicted about “mandatory” college courses. I realize that many students would not take mathematics in college but for this, and that, quite possibly, my job only exists because of it. I rationalize that it’s justified because when I went to college I was forced to take a wide range of courses in philosophy, English, science, and other subjects…I believe I’m being intellectually honest when I say that an educated person should know at least a little about many things, even as I acknowledge a possible conflict of interest clouding my opinion.

     All that said, the courses I was forced to take were academic courses, topics that took humanity a thousand years or more to develop and understand. Scholars decided that an educated person should know such things. Even changing the contents of these courses used to require a committee of scholars to discuss and decide if a few pages here or there need to be changed…this process worked for literally centuries.

     However, on campuses where the Leftist/SJW takeover has occurred, now scholarship has been tossed out the window, and instead of educating people in legitimate topics, students are forced to sit in gender studies/indoctrination courses. A degree can be composed  of only so much material, so some academic course must have been removed. What scholarly knowledge was abandoned in exchange for this?

      Insult to injury, of course, is that now our campuses are being forced to support all the Gender Studies faculty to teach all the mandatory courses. What scholars were kicked to the curb over this?

     Forced indoctrination is bad, but putting our students into debt for the indoctrination is just ridiculous. The student explains that, being impressionable, she initially bought into the dogma as though it were the same as legitimate scholarship:

     “I was barely 17, and I was really just a dumb kid…”

     I really need to emphasize why we should have scholars, and not ideologues, guiding these kids in their education. I know I’m biased, but I nevertheless honestly believe knowledge of and belief in calculus will do far less harm to a child than forcing ideology down his or her throat.

      “The Ethnic Studies course I took…was maybe about a 300 person lecture.”

     In addition to the abomination of a 300 person lecture, doubtless “taught” via mindless PowerPoint lectures and Scantron tests, I want to point out how empty this course must be. I’ve never taken a Biology course, but I can hazard a guess at what’s in it. Can the gentle reader even imagine what is in “Ethnic Studies”? I sure can’t. Perhaps it’s just as well it’s a bogus course on the face of it.

     The student helpfully discusses the topics in this mystery course…there’s plenty of sex, of course, but I bet few readers could have guessed that from the title. There’s also discussion of serious social problems. None of these problems took humanity thousands of years to understand…and none of them will be solved sitting in a classroom getting angry about them.

     “One of the most ridiculous parts of the class…”

     I won’t go into the ridiculous part but…isn’t it odd that the class has multiple ridiculous parts to it, enough that they can be ranked? Seriously, I can’t recall one of my classes having “ridiculous” parts to it. Maybe we should reconsider pseudo-academic courses filled with ridiculous bits? It’d be nice if that were an option.

      “At least I agreed with the him [the Ethnic Studies professor] twice…”

      Again, it’s so bizarre that there are courses like this. I can’t recall a single mathematics course where I honestly disagreed with the professor, and I only had quibbles with other professors (my Poli Sci professor who insisted Nixon was the most intelligent president we ever had, for example, though I acknowledge I may be a bit ignorant on the topic…).

      The student goes on to discuss how her courses taught were about “Whiteness” and “Privilege” and all the other ideological buzzwords that mean nothing but are used to justify more hate and violence.

      Bottom line, it’s only a 7 minute video, but she does a fine job of telling the interested viewer what a waste of time this 4 month long course is.

      Even if YouTube is run by pedophiles, we can get still get use out of it, as the video about these fake, mandatory, courses clogging up our campuses is far more educational than the actual courses are.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Another Disgraceful Resignation, Another Golden Parachute

By Professor Doom

     One of the most infuriating things about higher education is how my bosses are perpetually receiving promotions and pay raises no matter how foul and incompetently they perform my job.

     Stacked on top of this issue is, when finally their incompetence and or corruption is revealed as so extraordinary that they must be fired (or allowed to resign), they then get a magnificent golden parachute. Bosses commonly get half a million dollars or more when fired in this manner, even if they’ve only been at the institution a year or less.

      Meanwhile, scholars can only qualify for a 2% pay raise after five years or more of flawless work…and if a scholar resigns from an institution of higher education, he gets absolutely nothing, as the times I’ve resigned from corrupt institution easily demonstrated it enough to my own eyes.

     I’ve often wondered why there’s little attempt to ever claw back these magnificently unearned resignation bonuses, but I take heart that finally, at least at one school, there’s an effort being made:

     Before discussing the severance, let’s set the scene a little at this school, some 60 miles away from Chicago.

     Northern University is a small-ish school by modern standards, with around 14,000 students (down from close to 20,000 a few years ago). Tuition runs around $14,000 a year (up from $10,000 a few years ago), plus another $10,000 for room and board, plus another $10,000 if you’re out-of-state. They claim the median starting salary of alumni is $48,000, but I have to be a little suspicious (that’s not my salary after 30 years of honorable work with no black marks, and well above the national median salary). Their most notable alumni is the guy who does the voice of Homer Simpson, though I suspect very little the guy learned on this campus actually helps him in his current position.

     Anyway, the Poo Bah here is a failure, because growth, the only thing that matters to these people, has been quite negative at this school…if Poo Bahs get huge bonuses as rewards for growing the school, shrinking the school should count against them. It never does.

     He’s also failed to keep tuition and other college expenses down; granted this is a very, very, low priority for admin in higher education.

     The Poo Bah resigned after 4 years at the school. Again, for mere mortals, spending this amount of time at a single place of employment hardly counts for anything.

     So far, so not good. Like most Poo Bahs, as soon as he came in he started hiring cronies and paying them exorbitant salaries. Somehow, he was caught after only a few years (usually this sort of thing takes a decade or so to sort out):

The inspector general launched the inquiry into Northern Illinois' hiring practices in 2014 following several anonymous tips. Illinois law requires state agencies to publicly bid out contracts for professional services from an independent contractor worth more than $20,000.
But the report found that the university hired nine employees between June 2013 and May 2015, paying them all more than $20,000, but never solicited bids for those jobs.
In all, investigators wrote, Northern Illinois spent more than $1 million on the five highest-paid of those employees.

     Let’s see here, a million bucks on 2 years’ pay for 5 cronies…so their salary was around $100,000 a year just for being buddies with the Poo Bah. Again, this is so typical I’m surprised anyone noticed. That kind of money is standard pay for even the lowest level bureaucrats in the system, and I’ve seen campuses load up with admin holding do-nothing jobs more than enough times I’m certainly not doubting the report, only wondering how it even registered.

      So, let’s summarize. The Poo Bah failed at growth, failed to keep expenses down, hadn’t been at the school much time at all, and was as corrupt as, well, many Poo Bahs—most important to this, I’m sure, is that he was caught at the corruption.

     The Poo Bah resigns. I encourage you to think back from jobs where you’ve said “I quit” to compare what you received to the Poo Bah’s bonus for quitting:

 …a total package including a one-time payment of $450,000, equal to a year of his salary; a lump-sum payment of $137,500, which is in exchange for resigning his tenured position in the College of Business; and up to $30,000 for his "reasonable, unpaid expenses for legal counsel" relating to his time at the university…

--Isn’t it neat how admin get to award themselves tenured positions like that? It’s funny how admin hate tenure…except when it’s theirs.

     He gets well past half a million dollars for saying “I quit.” Having reviewed other Poo Bah careers, I’ve learned that by quitting every few years, most Poo Bahs get more in golden parachutes than average citizens will see in their entire lives. I really want to emphasize that what he received here is typical, standard practice in higher education today, and certainly is a part of why tuition is so ridiculously high.

     Wonder of wonders, however, there’s an attempt to claw back the money, or at least challenge the luxurious-but-standard boon the Poo Bah received for quitting his job:

The suit contends that the trustees violated the state Open Meetings Act by not notifying the public that it intended to reach an agreement with Baker, and then at the meeting by not giving the public an opportunity to comment on the terms of the deal.

    While this could be viewed as a challenge, realistically this means nothing. Quite possibly, by reaching the agreement in a closed meeting, the Board of Trustees (sic) violated policy, and, yes, violation of that policy could well void that wonderful golden parachute.

     But this is irrelevant.

     Nobody has any influence over what the Board does, so if this suit is successful, there’s absolutely nothing to stop the Board from holding another meeting, making it as open as the law says it should be…and going on ahead and awarding the exact same pile of money as before.

     Even if there was, somehow, a way to challenge the Board’s award after the open meeting, such a challenge would go nowhere. Why? Because the Poo Bah’s golden parachute for quitting is comparable to the bonuses other Poo Bah’s received for quitting despite extraordinary failure and corruption. The board will defend their decision as a ‘best practices’ decision.

     Higher education really is at the stage where the corruption and incompetence is so pervasive that you can use the claim of being corrupt and incompetent as legal justification to continue being corrupt and incompetent.

     I will, of course, point out that the student loan scam is paying for these golden parachutes, and since there is no way to legally stop this type of plundering from continuing, our best bet, as always, is easy:

     Stop the student loan scam.


Thursday, January 25, 2018

Education Departments Are Frauds

By Professor Doom

     I’ve written before of the huge influx of Education professors on campus. According to admin, people with Education degrees can teach everything. Admin measures teaching by how high the grades are and how many students pass, and by this standard, yes, Educationists are good teachers. However, my investigation of these people showed that they generally cannot teach the topics for which they are hired.

     On campuses, the Education department is usually pretty big, with huge numbers of students being (allegedly) taught. Administrators love quantity and have no interest in quality. Consistently, Education is viewed as shameful, as such students are generally the weakest on campus.

“Are we really going to follow the syllabus?”

--a common question I’d receive from an Education major, before they became cloistered. Cloistered? Read on, but understand at this time that questions like this don't come from a vacuum.

      Education departments responded to this shame by cloistering their students. While other students take their coursework from a variety of departments, Education majors take “special ed” courses. For example, they don’t take calculus, taught by a math professor…instead they take Math for Education Majors, taught by an Education professor, and the same applies to many other subjects.

     Now, Education departments produce many graduates, so admin just keeps funding more expansion of these departments, but it’s fair to ask: just how well do Educationists teach their own?

      A recent article on answers the question fairly well, but I wish to reinforce some ideas.

There’s another educational issue that’s neither flattering nor comfortable to confront. That’s the low academic quality of so many teachers. It’s an issue that must be confronted and dealt with if we’re to improve the quality of education. Most states require prospective teachers to pass a certification test.

     Cloistered students might look great on paper, but sooner or later they have to enter the real world, in this case, through a standardized test. Being able to demonstrate knowledge and skill in a controlled environment is the ultimate test of how well the students are being trained. Granted, you always expect some students to fail such tests, but let’s look at the questions which the teachers of your children find challenging:

“Which of the following is largest? a. 1/4, b. 3/5, c. 1/2, d. 9/20.”

      Hey, fractions are tough for ten year olds, but these aren’t children attempting to answer this question, they’re college graduates. Education departments justified having their own special math classes because of their “superior” teaching skills but…it’s clear not even basic arithmetic can be expected of an Education student. The above question should not even be a question on the exam; understand the question didn’t appear in a vacuum, it appeared because so many Education graduates didn’t know basics of math. Keep in mind Education students, even those teaching math class, would get a calculator to answer the above…and still many fail.

The committee sets aside 20 acres of the land for watershed protection and an additional 37.4 acres for recreation. How much of the land is set aside for watershed protection and recreation? a. 43.15 acres, b. 54.6 acres, c. 57.4 acres, d. 60.4 acres” 

      Please understand how rigged Education is, to have students, potential teachers of your children, so shaky on basic understanding that the above could be considered a challenging question. On legitimate multiple choice tests, the wrong answers are, usually, at least somewhat plausible as correct, but I can’t conceive of a confusion of ideas which would allow for any of the wrong answers provided here. Again, this does not occur in a vacuum: so many Education majors are so utterly clueless there’s no need to make the wrong answers even remotely plausible.

     The above questions were from Michigan. Here’s one for teacher certification in Arizona:

“Janet can type 250 words in 5 minutes, what is her typing rate per minute? a. 50wpm, b. 66wpm, c. 55wpm, d. 45wpm.”

     The article I’m quoting from has other questions…but I’ve given sufficient examples of how stupidly simplistic the questions are on tests given by Educationists. Yes, the graduates get 4.0 GPAs but I just don’t see how a scholar could consider these fairly difficult questions for a college graduate.

     But the tests need to be this simple because, even at this level of “difficulty” many graduates from Education departments struggle:

more than 700 Georgia teachers had repeatedly failed at least one portion of the certification test they were required to pass before receiving a teaching certificate. Nearly 60 teachers had failed the test more than 10 times, and one teacher had failed the test 18 times. There were 297 teachers on the Atlanta school system’s payroll who had failed the state certification test five times or more…

     It’s very clear that Education departments are frauds. They claim their cloistered students, after graduation, are qualified to teach our kids (and even college courses) even though it’s readily demonstrable that many of their graduates can barely think as clearly as a 10 year old.

     When I discussed this problem in higher education years ago in this blog, my “clever” solution was to stop hiring Educationists to teach courses, to instead hire specialists to teach specialist topics. Years after I’ve said this, the article I’m quoting from says the same:

I think that we ought to adopt a practice whereby teachers are hired according to their undergraduate major.

     Well, yeah, I agree. The author then goes on to say how a private school adopts such a practice. Yeah, I’ve said the like, also, and highlighted instead a famously successful school that, like any legitimate school, avoids Educationists diligently.


Monday, January 22, 2018

Teacher Working Conditions Are Student Learning Conditions. Adjuncts Should Quit.

By Professor Doom

     In a recent radio interview with Jeff Rense I touched on a broad range of issues in higher ed right now. While the focus was mostly on the deep hatred of white people in higher ed and associated infestation of Social Justice Warriors, I also mentioned the immense fraud that is accreditation, the horrible fraudulent nature of many of our for-profit, non-profit, and state schools, and, of course, the atrocious student loan scam.

      There are so many grim problems in higher ed that an hour long interview isn’t long enough to even list them all, much less discuss anything in great detail. One problem I missed was the adjunctification of higher education.

      In times past, a professor was fairly respected on campus, and it was a respectable job. You weren’t likely to become a millionaire, but you were allowed a decent living while you engaged in intellectual pursuits and taught the next generation the most advanced (if not necessarily the most useful) subjects humanity had come to know. That’s the image most people have of “college professor,” but the reality, like the reality of most things in higher ed, is farrrrrrrrrr different.

      Most college faculty are adjuncts, closing in on 70%, and so the adjunct should be what people think of when they hear “college professor.” For newcomers to my blog, an adjunct is a part time worker, generally paid less than minimum wage, often qualifying for welfare, and it’s so bad in some areas that the local food banks specialize in just keeping them fed.

     Administration justifies hiring adjuncts to do most of the work, saying “well, we only need them for the one semester.” Because they are part-time, adjuncts get no benefits, so this position is not intended to be a long term job. Trouble is, adjuncts end up working this “temporary” position for years, decades even, waiting for the time that admin realizes “hey, we need this guy every semester, have needed him every semester for years, so saying he’s just a temp worker is a lie.” Trouble is, admin has no interest in making this realization, because adjuncts are very, very, cheap, and every $1000 not spend on paying the professor is another $950 that goes into administrative pockets (with the rest generously allowed by the administration to pay for education expenses).

      It’s a vicious, nasty, exploitative system, and quirks in the laws mean adjuncts can easily be paid lower than minimum wage, and not even qualify for unemployment between semesters (when they get no paychecks).

      There are many reasons our best and brightest allow this level of exploitation. A big part of it is the huge glut of Ph.D.s, a surplus created by the same leaders in higher ed who profit so mightily from all the cheap labor.  To this surplus is added a great number of Educationists (also a big source of Social Justice Warriors), as accreditation allows Education to be used as a “joker” for many lower level college courses.

      A semi-recent article tries to convince adjuncts to keep on slaving away to help administrators buy more lake front property:

     Hysterically, the author giving the advice not to quit actually quit for himself. I’m scratching my head here on why anyone should take this seriously, or how such an article could even be published.
My enthusiasm for teaching was undiminished, but I could see trouble on the horizon, consigned to a single course, semester after semester, no room for growth or new challenges. I didn’t want to be angry, or worse, bitter.

Because I had some advantages, my transition was easy. I was already making more money writing than teaching. I have an emotionally supportive partner who also could support us financially without me earning a dime.

     So, knowing the guy doesn’t actually believe what he’s saying, it’s tough to keep reading his words. For the most part, he’s responding to the common idea that “all adjuncts should quit at once.” Theoretically, it would help, as simple economics means reducing the supply of potential teachers would lead to higher wages and better working conditions.
     “Theoretically” is the weasel word here…all adjuncts aren’t going to quit overnight because they’ve student loan payments to make, rent to pay, and so on.
     Unsurprisingly, the author doesn’t understand either aspect of basic economics and indicates his own reasons why everyone quitting wouldn’t work:
Will this sort of action cause a giant pot of money to fall from the sky?

     Uh, higher ed has billions and billions to spend constructing buildings that no student will ever enter. Higher ed showers insane amounts of money on legions of diversity commissars, Poo Bahs, and deanlings who have nothing to do with education.
      There is a ridiculously huge sum of money in higher education…the trouble is none of it is going to education. I doubt that all adjuncts quitting overnight would change that but…at least in theory it would help a little.
     The author goes further off the rails:
If adjuncts have truly disappeared, credentials for teaching will be lowered or credit requirements will either be changed or offloaded to “alternative” providers

     Credentials have already been lowered dramatically, as I’ve already discussed, it’s easy to find “math education” professors teaching math courses they know nothing about.
      Credit requirements have also been lowered. Computer courses used to be big on campus, but because it was too expensive to hire even dubiously qualified teachers, many campuses have eliminated the programs rather than pay a fair price for teachers of a critical subject for the modern world.
      On many campuses, the vast majority of college courses aren’t even college…admin would absolutely reduce requirements further if all adjuncts walked away.
      It’s curious the author doesn’t mention another idea: make classes larger. We already have courses with a 1,000 students in them…the trouble here is most campuses don’t have enough rooms that large. It’s pretty funny, as I watch yet another administrative palace go up, I at least take pleasure in knowing that admin forgot, yet again, to build more oversize auditoriums.
      The rest of the article is more irrelevancies, but some comments bear mention:
After two years of full-time adjuncting, I'm convinced more than ever that teaching undergraduates is hardly one of the top priorities of higher education. And once you take away the incentive for universities to provide quality education, there's really nothing they won't do to deliver a degree for as little cost as possible, including completely removing the human element in education.

     The above highlights one of the big issues in higher ed: nobody cares about quality. It’s all about just getting those student loan checks into the pockets of administration as quickly as possible.
     The other issue is admin, and a commenter links to an important site. Seriously, the problem is way too many administrators:

     Let the implications of the above sink in. Faculty pay is basically flat (or falling, if you’re an adjunct, which most faculty are nowadays—quirks in accounting mean adjunct pay doesn’t always count as faculty pay), and faculty numbers are flat as well.
      Administrative pay is skyrocketing, stratospheric with no end in sight, along with benefits so luxurious that many faculty, if they forego pay and just got administrative benefits, would be better off.
      And administrator numbers are up 221%, over faculty numbers being up 3%, in a period where student population on campus more than quadrupled.
     Anyway, yes, all adjuncts should quit overnight. Also, we should cure cancer overnight while we’re at it. A more reasonable solution? Kill the student loan scam, as none of that money goes to adjuncts, and all of it goes to the people exploiting them.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Campus Crime Supported By Admin

By Professor Doom

     Our “leaders” in higher ed have focused on growth over all things, and many of our colleges have student bases to rival small towns.

     Now, concentrating tens of thousands of young people into a small area, funding them through the student loan scam, and not providing any sort of discipline or structure (since doing so would cut into growth), is just asking for trouble. Just about every large college or university now is a high crime area, or at the very least has a high crime area nearby, in addition to a “drinking area” loaded down with establishments providing alcohol and other adult recreational activities to students.

     Even when the schools aren’t overly huge, there’s still a crime factor that wouldn’t exist but for the school. Schools no longer focus on education, they focus on warm bodies, particularly people that want checks. Lots of folks fit that description—some are good people that are just being suckered thinking they’ll get an education in exchange for the debt, while others are, well, “not so good.” And some are just kids who make mistakes because they’re plunged into a permissive environment.

     Businesses near universities simply accept the higher crime as a cost of doing business, and stuff certainly happens:

“… three underage black students were arrested for punching and kicking the white shopkeeper, Allyn Gibson. The students claim their only crime was trying to buy alcohol with fake identification, but Gibson says he was attacked after he caught them trying to steal bottles of wine…”

     Now, in times past, students caught in the act of stealing professionally, physically assaulting someone, or even just having fake IDs with intent to use such IDs for criminal behavior, would be punted from campus as “not college material.” Doing all three things in one night? Nowadays that just means “a fine student, welcome to come to campus.” As long as admin gets their money, it’s all good.

     These sorts of activities used to be covered in the “Honor Code” of the institution, but such things have been long abandoned—expecting students to have honor would cut into growth, after all. It’s all about those checks.

      These three black students assaulted a white guy while they were engaged in criminal behavior, which means this story is buried by the mainstream media (doesn’t fit the narrative, after all). Thus I feel the need to examine this story in more detail.

     The kids (all under 21, anyway) are from Oberlin College. I’ve covered this school before. For a moment, Oberlin showed some real spine when the ugly anti-white racism which is springing up on our campuses reared its head there, but they caved, guaranteeing endless riots until the school shuts its doors. For what it’s worth, Oberlin has around 3,000 students…in a town with a population under 9,000.

     Because we now live in a mostly backwards world, the white shopkeeper who was assaulted by the three black students is being accused of racism:

There has long been speculation regarding racial profiling at Gibson's, and students quickly began to boycott and protest outside of the café.

     How much more frightening can this world become? This guy was literally attacked, and HE’s the problem? To their credit, the students who committed the assault took responsibility:

But in August, the students pleaded guilty to attempted theft and aggravated trespassing. In statements, they said their actions were wrong and the store wasn't racist. Nonetheless, students continue to boycott the small business over alleged racial profiling.

     Actual facts also support that the shopkeeper, the victim here, is not particularly racist in his attempt to reduce thefts at his business:

“…police figures from the past five years show only six out of 40 adults arrested for shoplifting at the bakery were black.”

     Despite this, the store has been targeted as RACIST, or so the owner claims. Oberlin college is facilitating the protests, allegedly, and this has provoked a lawsuit:

“..sued Oberlin and dean of students Meredith Raimondo for slander. The lawsuit accuses college staffers of encouraging protests against the bakery by cancelling classes, distributing flyers, and supplying demonstrators with free food and drink. It claims that in a protest, Raimondo used a bullhorn and distributed flyers that said the bakery is a "RACIST establishment with a LONG ACCOUNT of RACIAL PROFILING and DISCRIMINATION.”

     Now, the school has completely denied these charges…but I’ve sure seen this before. Outside of court, admin tells the most outrageous of lies and denies everything no matter how well-founded the accusations here.

     In this case, we have a claim that the Dean was using a bullhorn and passing out fliers…I bet there’ll be a few witnesses and probably a cell phone video or two. So, good luck with those denials.

     I’m sure what will happen here is, in time, they’ll settle out of court, make a big payment to the baker, who admittedly has it coming. The Dean won’t lose her job, and tuition will go up another few percent.

     It’s no big deal, it’s all paid for by the student loan scam anyway.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Laptops in Class, Yes or No? (Hint: No)

By Professor Doom

     The world is so dramatically different from what it was 20 years ago, it’s shocking. It used to be a big deal to have a cell phone back then, but nowadays not only does everyone have a cell phone (except me, when not travelling), but these phones have literally all the information of humanity available.

      When I walk into a classroom today, nearly every one of my students has their eyes glued to their cell phone. Hopefully they’re gaining knowledge, and if so I don’t blame them.

      The cell phones also beep or whirr or play a jingle every time someone (or some thing) wants to communicate with the cell phone owner…when I look at the class during the lecture, I invariably see at least one student texting away. Considering the student is generally paying several dollars a minute just to hear me talk, I hope they’re making a wise investment to text instead.

       I’ve tried banning the things, but, always, the excuses come up. “My grandfather is dying and I need to know right away when this happens” is a typical excuse, and it’s just not worth my time to try to enforce any such ban, even though I know in my heart the students would be far better off without the distraction. Besides, a student might complain to admin that he’s unhappy with my ban, and then the Dean will tell me not to ban the things…or else.

      It’s not just cell phones, computers have changed. Now some students are carrying tiny laptop computers, with all the power of the phones, and with a keyboard for easy typing. Students with laptops thusly don’t spend as much time texting…but now they’re playing games or surfing the ‘net.

     Again, I really want to ban these things, since I know that’s the right thing to do. And, again, I know admin would only punish me if I tried to help my students get an education.

     A recent article at the Chronicle of Higher Education highlights so many of the problems in higher education right now, albeit inadvertently:

     Just the title is worrisome: when did fear of insulting the class become a part of higher education? More importantly, when did fear of not providing quality education leave higher education?

     It doesn’t stop at the title, however, as the author provides some information about himself:

I’m a professor of human sexuality at Dalhousie University, on Canada’s Atlantic coastline. In my classes we discuss everything from the history of homosexual persecution to vaginoplasty to the cultural importance of Fifty Shades of Grey…in a lecture hall with some 400 students.

     It’s only one paragraph, but it says so much about the state of higher education. I’ve mentioned before how our course catalogues are loaded down with sex courses…human sexuality, female sexuality, male sexuality, adult sexuality, deviant sexuality…so many variants on this one topic.

      Pick up a catalogue from 50 years ago, and you’ll see courses primarily on academic topics, but today the bulk of the campus is devoted to sex, pop culture, and ideological indoctrination. The change comes from admin, who just want to provide courses which please the students.

      Now, don’t get me wrong, sex is certainly something worth studying, as is pop culture (not so much the indoctrination), but we’re teaching this crap in rooms with 400 students at a time.

     So look at three things this article is telling us about higher education. Higher education fears offending the students, provides empty coursework of no value, and does so in massive lecture halls.

      Now let’s talk about having laptops in class. The author gives the usual spiel about how technology enhances education. He tells us we should ignore the empirical evidence every professor can tell you he’s seen with his own eyes: these technological toys are an incredible distraction.

       Again, I acknowledge the toys have their uses…but not in an auditorium with 400 students.

     The professor continues to highlight the issues with higher ed:

Telling them they can’t use their laptops or smartphones in class is treating adults like infants. 

      No, it would be treating students like students. When you go study martial arts, the first thing they do is force you to wear a martial arts uniform. Gee, your sensei is telling you how to dress? That’s treating you like an infant, right?

      No, it’s treating the martial arts student like a student. It’s not infantilizing the student, wearing that uniform will facilitate developing the physical skills in martial arts.

     It’s just common sense. Similarly, putting the toys aside will help the student pay attention, which is a big part of learning something. Common sense, honest.

…if they choose to check Snapchat instead of listening to your lecture, then that’s their loss…

      While there’s truth in the above, why not help the student learn? Why not make it easier for him to learn? Why isn’t the professor taking responsibility for his students? What happened to higher education where it became difficult to make decisions in the student’s best interest?

      Part of what happened is faculty are beaten down. The abuse has been ongoing for so long, that it’s only natural for some faculty to have Stockholm syndrome, and the author is exhibiting the symptoms:

Besides, it’s my responsibility as an educator to ensure that my lecture is compelling. If my students aren’t paying attention, if they’re distracted, that’s on me.

     He actually blames himself! Much like an abused wife figures she brought the beating on herself, so too do we have faculty who think the same way about students not enjoying the work (they call it “work” for a reason…) more than playing on the computer.

     Living in the culture of terror that is higher education, faculty are trained to fear everything they do, as the slightest micro-aggression can lead to a dressing down from admin at the very least.

     So, now we don’t really care about helping students, we care about making the lecture “compelling,” and the professor above is not alone in thinking it’s his fault if he can’t compete with literally all the entertainment in the world sitting in front of the student in the form of a laptop.

The latest calls for a laptop ban were prompted by a recent study of students’ using laptops for note-taking versus note-taking by hand. This is a remarkably narrow view of how laptops can be used in a classroom — and an unfair method to measure an impact on learning.

      Look, I admit that my line about what professors are seeing with their own eyeballs is just a bunch of anecdotes, but here we see the author cite a study saying what we already know.

      And still the empirical evidence of the completely obvious is tossed as he argues for keeping laptops in the classroom. Then we go to the next problem in higher education:

Like any good academic, I decided to conduct a study. Over the 2014 and 2015 academic years, with the help of a teaching assistant, I examined the effects of using the teaching app. We published our findings last year. We ran surveys and focus groups with 1,100 students, and found that the app promoted undergraduate engagement. More impressively, the integration of the app in the course had a noticeable impact on the perceived quality of education and increased critical-thinking skills.

      So, the guy does of his own teaching methods and—surprise!—turns out he’s awesome. Yeah, maybe.

     Thing is, every year when I was at a fake community college, we’d have an Educationist come in and do the same thing. They all have new teaching methods which, in their own classrooms using their own highly massaged data, work awesomely. Admin looks at this study, has no training in research methods to understand the concept of “conflict of interest” and then crams the new methods down the throats of the faculty.

       However, in controlled conditions, every single time, the new method fails, often spectacularly. Of course, the failures don’t get published, or at least don’t get promoted nearly as much…and so these useless methods based on blatantly flawed studies get sold endlessly.

     So, no, I’m not buying the author’s claims here, especially with him exhibiting the pathology of Stockholm syndrome.

     The comments section, key to any legitimate news source, almost entirely agrees that the author is laughably wrong. The sole exception is one graduate student who says laptops in the classroom are fine, based on his own theories.

      I rather expect when he starts teaching, he’ll change his tune. Eyeballs are like that, after all.