Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Our students

If you want to be depressed, read Mark Bauerlein’s essay on youth culture, declining levels of civic and historical knowledge, and the way in which our new communication technologies reinforce student insularity. His conclusion:

College professors complain about the result, noting the disaffection of students from their course work and the puny reserves of knowledge they bring into the classroom. But they hesitate to take a stand against mass culture and youth culture, fearful of the "dinosaur" or "conservative" tag. The disengagement of students from the liberal-arts curriculum is reaching a critical point, however. And the popular strategy of trying to bridge youth culture and serious study — of, say, using hip-hop to help students understand literary classics, as described in a June 19 article in the Los Angeles Times — hasn’t worked. All too often, the outcome is that important works are dumbed down to trivia, and the leap into serious study never happens. The middle ground between adolescent life and intellectual life is disappearing, leaving professors with ever more stark options.


One can accept the decline, and respond as a distinguished professor of literature did at a regional Modern Language Association panel last year after I presented the findings of "Reading at Risk." "Look, I don’t care if everybody stops reading literature," she blurted. "Yeah, it’s my bread and butter, but cultures change. People do different things."


Or one can accept the political philosopher Leo Strauss’s formula that "liberal education is the counter-poison to mass culture," and stand forthrightly against the tide. TV shows, blogs, hand-helds, wireless ... they emit a blooming, buzzing confusion of adolescent stimuli. All too eagerly, colleges augment the trend, handing out iPods and dignifying video games like Grand Theft Auto as worthy of study.


That is not a benign appeal for relevance. It is cooperation in the prolonged immaturity of our students, and if it continues, the alienation of student from teacher will only get worse.

Hat tip: Stanley Kurtz.

Discussions - 6 Comments

How about this for a stand? Flunk them and make no bones about incompetance, lack of study skills, inaadequate preparation. At the end of the quarter accumulate the results and send a letter to each of the high schools about their pitiful educational.

Next step? Entrance exams.

Only through the catharsis of true pain will society reform.

BTW. I edit thesis papers, proposals and the like for students and graduate students. I can confirm the abysmal lack of intellegent analysis (let’s not even talk about informed analysis, presentation skils, knoledge of grammer and vocabulary and untter disregrad for historical context.

As Steve Hayward recounts so well, in his seminal THE AGE OF REAGAN, the education establishment capitulated to the demands of trendy youth in the ’60s. And that capitulation triggered a cascade effect throughout the entirety of American, indeed Western Education.

Now it’s all about "race, class, gender." I was on Princeton’s campus recently, walking about with my little 5 yr. old nephew. And he is such a good little kid, that some coed who was sitting and reading, spoke to him. So we fell into a conversation, and just to be polite and make conversation, I asked what she was reading. It was some ideological Homosexualist tract. My face must have betrayed my disgust at the thought of wasting time studying such nonsense, and she observed: "it’s required."

REQUIRED???????????!!!!!!!!!!!????????? At PRINCETON???????????? One of the leading Universities in the country??????????????? It’s real bad out there, and the great Catholic Universities are just as bad now, for they sought the adulation of Liberal elites.

1) I fully agree with Garrett and
2) I think Dan hits around my real point.
I don’t feel that college liberal arts is going to teach me anything worth knowing. Now, this is not to say that what was taught as liberal arts circa 1920/40 was not worth knowing, but the Left controlled colleges are not teaching that. My generation and those who came after are so used to them teaching us political ideology and not facts that we don’t listen to them anymore.

We know that school is a game. We know that winning (good grades, piece of paper) often involves regurgitating the professor’s own beliefs back to them. In Freshman English to get an A on all my papers I needed to talk about how women are repressed. In my wife’s upper level English class every paper needed to be about death. The teachers are not there to teach. They are there to indoctrinate, and I am there for the degree. Sometimes you have to jump through hoops in life; to get my resume in the door, I needed that paper, and to do that, I have to parrot back the professor’s beliefs. But I am not going to learn that because I am a heterosexual white male that I am nothing more than a rapist enslaver, and that my parent are bad people for believing in their God. That is what they teach.
Maybe if you want students to learn a liberal arts education, you should make them feel their is an opportunity to get a TRUE liberal arts education, as opposed to merely an education from Liberals.

I handled most of this by getting a degree in a skills (non-liberal arts) major. In physics and electrical engineering they actually teach you something. That was worth the money.

When I went to law school, I was disgusted. Professors didn’t teach. They ignored their own syllabi. Sometimes they taught directly opposite of what was going to be on the Bar Exam. My fellow students often aired their personal politics and were not brought back to the point of the class by the professors. One day I got up and left class during the break. From then on I self taught (which is very easy in law school). Thank God my company paid for law school, because I would be even more livid if I paid. I never got “value for money” out of that place. When I left I actually wrote a letter to the alumni office asking them to never talk to me again.

And, I am a good student. Over 3 degrees my GPA is a solid and steady 3.5. Fortunately I make a good living because I keep the Teaching Company and Amazon in business. My house has run out of places to put bookshelves and they are now stacked like the cliché regarding professors in old 50s movies. But I realize I am the rare one. Formal education did not kill off my love for learning; however, it tried very hard. Many students don’t start off with this love (my brothers).

Another point is (and I guess we’re at (3)), you realize many students don’t actually want to be in college now-a-days. College (undergrad) is really what high school was back in the 40s/50s. If you want any success in life, you have to go and get that degree. (Getting drunk and laid is a bonus.) You don’t go because you want to learn. That is what graduate school is for.

let us try that again. Please put a preview button down there.


1) I fully agree with Garrett and


2) I think Dan hits around my real point.


I don’t feel that college liberal arts is going to teach me anything worth knowing. Now, this is not to say that what was taught as liberal arts circa 1920/40 was not worth knowing, but the Left controlled colleges are not teaching that. My generation and those who came after are so used to them teaching us political ideology and not facts that we don’t listen to them anymore.

We know that school is a game. We know that winning (good grades, piece of paper) often involves regurgitating the professor’s own beliefs back to them. In Freshman English to get an A on all my papers I needed to talk about how women are repressed. In my wife’s upper level English class every paper needed to be about death. The teachers are not there to teach. They are there to indoctrinate, and I am there for the degree. Sometimes you have to jump through hoops in life; to get my resume in the door, I needed that paper, and to do that, I have to parrot back the professor’s beliefs. But I am not going to learn that because I am a heterosexual white male that I am nothing more than a rapist enslaver, and that my parent are bad people for believing in their God. That is what they teach.




Maybe if you want students to learn a liberal arts education, you should make them feel their is an opportunity to get a TRUE liberal arts education, as opposed to merely an education from Liberals.



I handled most of this by getting a degree in a skills (non-liberal arts) major. In physics and electrical engineering they actually teach you something. That was worth the money.




When I went to law school, I was disgusted. Professors didn’t teach. They ignored their own syllabi. Sometimes they taught directly opposite of what was going to be on the Bar Exam. My fellow students often aired their personal politics and were not brought back to the point of the class by the professors. One day I got up and left class during the break. From then on I self taught (which is very easy in law school). Thank God my company paid for law school, because I would be even more livid if I paid. I never got “value for money” out of that place. When I left I actually wrote a letter to the alumni office asking them to never talk to me again.




And, I am a good student. Over 3 degrees my GPA is a solid and steady 3.5. Fortunately I make a good living because I keep the Teaching Company and Amazon in business. My house has run out of places to put bookshelves and they are now stacked like the cliché regarding professors in old 50s movies. But I realize I am the rare one. Formal education did not kill off my love for learning; however, it tried very hard. Many students don’t start off with this love (my brothers).




Another point is, you realize many students don’t actually want to be in college now-a-days. College (undergrad) is really what high school was back in the 40s/50s. If you want any success in life, you have to go and get that degree. You don’t go because you want to learn. That is what graduate school is for.

Evil Dave is exactly correct. There is nothing particularly wrong with the kids these days except that they are constantly bludgeoned by idiot professors pushing an agenda--Liberal or whatever. Their educational history is made up (almost entirely) of bored or boring teachers in grammar and high school who offered little more than the standard required blather. They so seldom come across anyone who is excited by learning. They seldom see anything great in it--indeed, they are almost talked out of the idea that anything can actually be great. The only thing left to excite the mind at that point is the idea of making alot of money and getting alot of sex. Who can blame them? Unless you come across some amazing teacher or, like Dave, have a natural desire to learn in your soul--it’s almost impossible to imagine any other scenario.

I think it is a mistake to look too critically at the outside distractions mentioned in this article--though they certainly don’t help the situation and their elevation by faculty desperate for relevance is pathetic. But focusing on that is like blaming the alcohol for the alcoholic’s troubles. The existence of these "adolescent stimuli" does not in itself drive people to distraction. People probably created these things to give their souls some refreshment or distraction from the boredom not satisfied by our education establishment. So to me it is more like a symptom of the problem than a description of the the problem itself.

I am overwhelmed at the way we model critical thinking, here! If I get the message accurately, WE are not the problem, but the problem exists despite us.

Liberals are a big part of the problem.

Most professors are idiots with agendas (Liberal or.... whatever).

Those of us who learn anything in colleges or universities these days do so despite, not because of, others’ efforts. We owe our own knowledge to our personal, individual efforts, and our innate love of learning which, by the way, is not shared by most other, stupid, lazy students.

This post and subsequent comments have convinced me that a true Liberal Arts education is more critical than ever, if we are going to move from self-reference, self-congratulation, scapegoating, and bandwagon mentality.

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