If there is one place where common sense seems often in short supply, it is in the classroom, be it in kindergarten or all the way up through higher education.
Wisdom of the Faculty Lounge
“We [Americans] are being run by the mindset of the faculty lounge, as if the philosophy or English department has taken over running the country,” writes former California State University, Fresno professor Victor Davis Hanson on June 13. Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University.
“Some of you were not academics for 21 years,” Hanson later adds, criticizing President Obama’s record on taxes, finance, foreign policy, and race relations. “No problem, you can easily imagine what the worldview is on campus—given that after six years on the job you cannot be fired except for felony conviction (and even that is problematic),” he writes.
“After tenure a failure to publish and awful teaching evaluations mean nothing. ‘Post-tenure review’ has the teeth of a UN investigation.”
He later continues,
“When I would go to department meetings, get coffee, or see faculty at receptions, I could never quite understand the aberrant mental processes. There was never a connection between our salaries and the source of wealth generated to pay them. Taxes could be limitless, because a Michelle’s proverbial ‘they’ had far too much money anyway, and so spent their lucre on needless things like jet skis and SUVs. Better for the university to have it and spread it around wisely.”
Other areas in public education, both here and in Britain, seem to be lacking in a little common wisdom of late.
Best Friends… Never?
The New York Times has a June 16 article which outlines how educators are discouraging kids from having best friends “in part because of concerns about cliques and bullying.”
“I think it is kids’ preference to pair up and have that one best friend As adults—teachers and counselors—we try to encourage them not to do that,” NY Times writer Hillary Stout quotes Christine Laycob, director of counseling at Mary Institute and St. Louis Country Day School, a “nonprofit, independent, preparatory school” in St. Louis. “We try to talk to kids and work with them to get them to have big groups of friends and not be so possessive about friends,” continues Laycob.
“Parents sometimes say Johnny needs that one special friend…We say he doesn’t need a best friend.”
“…While in the past a social slight in backyard games rarely came to teachers’ attention the next day, today an upsetting text message from one middle school student to another is often forwarded to school administrators, who frequently feel compelled to intervene in the relationship. (Ms. Laycob was speaking in an interview after spending much of the previous day dealing with a “really awful” text message one girl had sent another.) Indeed, much of the effort to encourage children to be friends with everyone is meant to head off bullying and other extreme consequences of social exclusion…
For many child-rearing experts, the ideal situation might well be that of Matthew and Margaret Guest, 12-year-old twins in suburban Atlanta, who almost always socialize in a pack. One typical Friday afternoon, about 10 boys and girls filled the Guest family backyard. Kids were jumping on the trampoline, shooting baskets and playing manhunt, a variation on hide-and-seek. …”
Stout explains why such an attitude might not be healthy:
“Many psychologists believe that close childhood friendships not only increase a child’s self-esteem and confidence, but also help children develop the skills for healthy adult relationships—everything from empathy, the ability to listen and console, to the process of arguing and making up. If children’s friendships are choreographed and sanitized by adults, the argument goes, how is a child to prepare emotionally for both the affection and rejection likely to come later in life?”
Sex Ed at Age 5
Britain’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) is releasing a draft guidance with “voluntary” new standards suggesting students should learn about “sex and relationships and alcohol” starting at five years old, reported Reuters’ Tim Castle on June 17.
“The latest guidance from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) is in draft form and will not be compulsory, but the agency said it expected local authorities and others to follow it,” writes Castle.
“NICE said school governors should ensure education about sex and relationships and alcohol starts in primary school, which British children attend from the age of five.”
“The previous Labour government, which was ousted in a general election last month, had drafted legislation to make sex education compulsory in primary and secondary schools but abandoned the provisions at the last minute.
Those proposals would also have removed the right of parents to withdraw children from sex education once they turned 15.”
“The changes had been fiercely criticized by anti-abortion and religious groups, who want more emphasis placed on encouraging abstinence from sex before marriage,” he writes.
Bethany Stotts is a staff writer at Accuracy in Academia.