A libertarian inclined blog for teachers and learners of all ages. Comments, emails and links to other educational stuff welcome.

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Category archive: Bias

Tuesday July 01 2008

Indeed.  The Bishop takes a bash at eco-brainwashing in a (private) school:

Not if we should recycle, or when we should recycle, but why we should recycle. The person who wrote this is clearly intellectually challenged. Do they really believe that it is always best to recycle? No matter what level of resources is required? Who would want their children taught by someone who believed such nonsense?

If he can teach reading, writing, grammar, comprehension, manners, then maybe yes.  And perhaps yes because they also want recycling to be taught also.  The market will decide.  The Bishop’s most pertinent complaint is that the teacher didn’t capitalise a film title.

A national religion (and I do agree that this is that) is a very hard thing to resist.  Next: home-ed by anti-environmentalists.

Saturday March 15 2008

imageThus:

The larger point ... is that teachers who are unable to present controversial, even partisan, materials in a balanced manner thereby show themselves unfit to be members of their profession. I pause to consider whether this isn’t a rather immoderate statement. It is - for they might be able to teach well in non-controversial areas, to which they might then confine themselves or be confined. On the other hand, any teacher of politics or history or social studies of one kind or another who is unable to present controversial, even partisan, materials in a balanced manner thereby shows him or herself to be unfit to teach young people in those subjects. I think that is now stated with the balance it merits.

Indeed.  However, is it not the case that the internet has made this problem somewhat less of a problem, because the internet has saturated society with contrasting views of the world?  The internet breaks all intellectual monopolies, even if teachers plug them shamelessly in their classrooms.

I don’t say that unbalanced classrooms are now no problem, just, for that reason at least, somewhat less of a problem than they used to be.

Wednesday February 20 2008

Following on from this (as in: I am following on from it, he isn’t), one of my favourite bloggers just now, David Thompson, writes at length about Indoctrinate U.

Indoctrinate U says – what else? - that leftist orthodoxy perpetuates itself in universities, by relentlessly and if necessary violently forbidding all challenges.

Personally I put this down to the USA having been founded by Puritans, by “orthodoxists”, so to speak.  If it isn’t one orthodoxy, it will surely be another.  The answer to the problem is that the ruling orthodoxy should be and should always remain: Brian-Micklethwait-ism.

Tuesday February 19 2008

It has long been know that academia is biased towards the left.  But why? Is it because lefties perpetuate themselves and viciously exclude non-lefties?  Or is it because non-lefties exclude themselves, because they want early families, and lots of money whether they want early families or not, and hence better paid jobs than they are likely to get at all soon (if ever) in academia?

Here looks like a good place to start looking for answers to such questions.

I have long suspected that libertarianism of my sort is a variety of non-leftism that has the property that it appeals to the academic temperament - abstract, intellectual, ideological, simplified to the point (in some mouths) of being simplistic.  Academically talented libertarians don’t seem to have any problem making academic progress, provided only that they want to.

Meanwhile, I have known many libertarians who vehemently believed in money-making, but who had no particular talent for it.  I am one such.  My Libertarian Alliance boss/colleague the late Chris Tame was another.

And then what about this guy? He has written very successfully about science, but then did a career switch.  He got himself into a position to make lashings of money.  Instead, despite disbelieving vehemently in nationalisation, he ended up losing lashings of (other people’s) money and being a part of the biggest British nationalisation for several decades.  But maybe he illustrates something else entirely, namely the tendency of old Etonians to get swank jobs regardless of whether they will do them brilliantly or well or badly or catastrophically.

Wednesday February 13 2008

I’m just back from an posh type LA Dinner, at posh restaurant Shepherds (a convenient short walk from where I live) addressed by John Kersey, speaking about higher education and what he is doing about it.  See also this posting

JK will get more mentions here in the weeks and months to come.  For now, I just want to pass on something that Matthew Elliott of the TaxPayers’ Alliance said, which is that the TaxPayers’ Alliance are about to publish something saying that all university lecture halls ought to have webcams at the back of them, which we could all watch over the internet.  This would serve two purposes.  First, it would show the taxpayers, who are after all paying for most of this stuff, what they were getting, or not getting, for their money.  Second, it would reveal the wicked leftism of it all.  I would add that putting webcams in lecture halls might cause the quality of the lecturing to go up and the behaviour and attendance records of the students to improve.  Also, you never know, us taxpayers might learn things.

Interesting.  Kind of a different slant on this.  No doubt the most embarrassing clips would immediately show up on YouTube.

Thursday January 10 2008

David Thompson links to an article by Stefan Theil entitled Europe’s Philosophy of Failure about the ideological content of education in ... well, this quote tells you:

Millions of children are being raised on prejudice and disinformation. Educated in schools that teach a skewed ideology, they are exposed to a dogma that runs counter to core beliefs shared by many other Western countries. They study from textbooks filled with a doctrine of dissent, which they learn to recite as they prepare to attend many of the better universities in the world. Extracting these children from the jaws of bias could mean the difference between world prosperity and menacing global rifts. And doing so will not be easy. But not because these children are found in the madrasas of Pakistan or the state-controlled schools of Saudi Arabia. They are not. Rather, they live in two of the world’s great democracies - France and Germany.

That’s how the piece starts.  Here is another interesting paragraph:

Attitudes and mind-sets, it is increasingly being shown, are closely related to a country’s economic performance. Edmund Phelps, a Columbia University economist and Nobel laureate, contends that attitudes toward markets, work, and risk-taking are significantly more powerful in explaining the variation in countries’ actual economic performance than the traditional factors upon which economists focus, including social spending, tax rates, and labor-market regulation. The connection between capitalism and culture, once famously described by Max Weber, also helps explain continental Europe’s poor record in entrepreneurship and innovation. A study by the Massachusetts-based Monitor Group, the Entrepreneurship Benchmarking Index, looks at nine countries and finds a powerful correlation between attitudes about economics and actual corporate performance. The researchers find that attitudes explain 40 percent of the variation in start-up and company growth rates - by far the strongest correlation of any of the 31 indicators they tested. If countries such as France and Germany hope to boost entrepreneurship, innovation, and economic dynamism - as their leaders claim they do - the most effective way to make that happen may be to use education to boost the cultural legitimacy of going into business.

Trouble is, where will they find the teachers to do that, if they’ve all been brainwashed to hate capitalism?

The link between education and economic development is widely accepted, but much depends on what kind of education it is.

Saturday December 08 2007

David Friedman is trying to find out about colleges for his daughter.  In particular, he wants to know how heretical opinions are treated.  Here‘s one way he sets about doing that.  He talks to fellow economists:

image

It is almost impossible to be a good economist and accept traditional conservative arguments against free trade - because those arguments depend on not understanding economic ideas worked out nearly two hundred years ago. It is almost impossible to be a good economist and accept common left wing rhetoric about “people not profits” or the equivalent - because a good economist knows that the argument on the other side isn’t about profits as an end in themselves but about profits as part of a signaling system that results in benefits for people. A left wing economist might think that system works poorly and can be improved by proper government intervention - but he knows that the standard rhetoric misrepresents the position it argues against.

One consequence is that a good economist is almost certain to find himself in conflict with the left wing orthodoxy that dominates the sort of top liberal arts colleges we have been looking at - just as he would be almost certain to find himself in conflict with the right wing orthodoxy that (I presume) dominates some Christian fundamentalist schools. So talking to economists at a school gives me some feel for how that school’s culture treats heretical views.

Read the rest of that posting, because it is very interesting.  David Friedman has one of the most attractive minds anywhere on the planet that I am personally acquainted with.

And see also what Friedman says about unschooling.  I haven’t read that yet, but will Real Soon Now, and will surely be writing about it here.

Michelle Malkin writes about bad maths teaching.

Chris Heaton-Harris writes about the Europeanisation of education:

As part of the Lifelong Learning Programme there is also funding available ‘to support European associations in the field of education and training or which pursue an objective which is part of an EU policy’. The only organisations eligible to receive such funding are those which ‘exist as a body pursuing an aim of general European interest’, i.e. you have to be 100% behind European integration to receive what is ultimately propaganda money.

Mark Holland photos bad spelling.

Bruce Thornton explains the difference between political and academic freedom:

Columbia, then, was terribly mistaken in inviting Ahmadinejad onto campus, for what serious ideas did he present? That the Holocaust never happened, that a cabal of Jews runs the West, and that homosexuals don’t exist in Iran? His appearance was a stunt, not an incitement to serious discussion, let alone an inducement to intellectual discovery. Conversely, UC Davis’s rescinding its invitation to Larry Summers was a violation of academic free speech. Summers is a respected scholar who has been demonized merely for speculating on the causes of an undisputed fact - that fewer women than men work in science, mathematics, and engineering.

Book blurb for It’s Your Time You’re Wasting:

… is the blackly humorous diary of a year in his working life. Chalk confiscates porn, booze and trainers, fends off angry parents and worries about the few conscientious pupils he comes across, recording his experiences in a dry and very readable manner. He offers top tips for dealing with unruly children, muses on the shortcomings of the staff (including his own) and even spots the occasional spark of hope amid all the despair. His book will horrify (and amuse) millions of parents and will become a must-read for many of the country‘s 400,000 teachers.

Happy birthday Student Teacher.

Joanne Jacobs links to The Ledge:

When the CTA lady came to the union meeting to specifically alert new teachers to the dangers of proposed merit pay provisions, I shook my head in tight side-to-sides, because true systems of meritorious compensation are the future of the work we do. New hiring practices, the dissolution of tenure, authentic evaluations, performance based pay - this is what’s needed to get us off that ledge and quell the schizophrenia of being an ambitious and successful teacher in a public school.

Be careful what you wish for.  You want a true system of meritorious compensation.  But what if it turns out to be a false one?  (See about every second or third posting on this blog so far.)

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