The reason students need to take more English classes, rather than math and science classes, in order to graduate

Rear view of class raising handsWe had an interesting conversation at our dinner table last night. My son said that, now that he’s at high school, he enjoys his science class most.  He finds the other classes boring and, to his mind, pointless. Having watched a documentary recording what goes on in UC Berkeley’s liberal arts classrooms (a combination of Leftism and navel-gazing stupidity), even Mr. Bookworm conceded that my son was on to something and that going to college today for a liberal arts degree is probably a waste of money.

My son then asked a very thoughtful question: “If all these English classes don’t teach you anything useful, and science and math classes are useful, why is that our high school graduation requirement is for only two years of science but for four years of English?”

Because I didn’t want to start a fight in the house, I told my son that his was a good question, but didn’t offer an answer.  If I had offered an answer, I would have said that it’s because liberal arts classes are the vehicles for Leftist indoctrination.  Math, with its nasty little absolutes (e.g., 1+1 always equals 2), is not a welcoming environment for propaganda.  And if too many kids start studying science seriously, a substantial percentage of them might begin to understand that global warming, with its unfalsifiable closed universe, is a hoax.  English classes, however, are the perfect vehicle for teaching kids all the usual Leftist tropes:  class warfare; white imperialism, racism, and brutality; misogynistic male chauvinism, hostility to capitalism, and extreme gay sex.

Leftism and STEM cannot exist in the same universe, because true logical thinking must invariably reject hard-core Leftism.  The answer, therefore, is to trumpet a commitment to STEM classes, all the while making sure that Leftist literature and literary analysis remains the largest constant in any American child’s education.

Mitch Pearlstein, a former presidential speechwriter was therefore onto something when he took objection to Obama’s remarks about education (emphasis mine):

Then there is the matter of industrial innovation. The United States will continue innovating with the best of them, but we might not remain the very best of them as long as American students continue trailing large swaths of the world in math and science. A nation’s capacity for innovation is tied directly to the math and science knowledge of its workers, meaning the best such equipped workers increasingly are showing up in other countries. The president said pleasing things about high-school graduation rates. It would have been ultimately helpful, if painful, if he also had pointed to the fact that our students are losing ground vis à vis their foreign competitors. (Then, again, do I really want the federal government even more deeply involved in public schools? Forget the whole thing.)

Obama talks the talk, but he has no intention — ever — of walking the walk when it comes to actually elevating STEM subjects to the most important part of any high school curriculum.  Note, please, that I say “most important part,” not the “only part.”  I am not advocating doing away with liberal arts, although if I had my way, the kids would get intensive training in actual writing skills, and they would read Western classics that speak about big issues common to all people, rather than books aimed at undermining the enlightened Judeo-Christian western thinking.

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  1. Gringo says

    Having watched a documentary recording what goes on in UC Berkeley’s liberal arts classrooms (a combination of Leftism and navel-gazing stupidity), even Mr. Bookworm conceded that my son was on to something and that going to college today for a liberal arts degree is probably a waste of money.
    When a diehard liberal like  Mr. Bookworm admits to this, you know that we have a problem with the liberal arts as taught in today’s universities- it ain’t just wingnuts wanting to return to  scraping symbols on stone tablets.  I suspect that when Mr. Bookworm took liberal arts some decades ago, they were not as politicized as they are today.  The few liberal arts courses I took as an undergrad four + decades ago did not strike me as being politicized.
    When I took Education courses in the nineties to become a teacher, I found a number of them to be politicized. [Though one professor who somewhat politicized her course brightened up things by telling us stories of the Clintons during her days in Arkansas government.] By “politicizing,” I mean treating unproven conjectures as if they were facts.
    But I would would suspect that Education courses have always been politicized  and full of idiocy, given what I have heard from teacher relatives of my parents’ education. [This is a shame, as there is a place for good Education courses, to share what two thousand plus years of formal instruction have shown to work in teaching students.]
     
    My son then asked a very thoughtful question: “If all these English classes don’t teach you anything useful, and science and math classes are useful, why is that our high school graduation requirement is for only two years of science but for four years of English?” ….. If I had offered an answer, I would have said that it’s because liberal arts classes are the vehicles for Leftist indoctrination.
    I beg to differ. Back in the Stone Age, I had to complete four years of English to get my high school diploma. My highly regarded high school, which sent about ten percent of its students to Ivy League or equivalent colleges, required only one year of math for graduation- a requirement which the Work Study kids greatly appreciated. In the ensuing decades, there has been a tendency to increase the number of math and science courses needed for graduation.  Today I suspect that there are very few high schools that require only one year of math for graduation.

  2. JKB says

     
     
    I came across this today from Jane S. Shaw A Meager Defense of the Humanities | The John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy
    When it comes to a liberal arts education, especially the humanities, a defense simply doesn’t exist in the academy any more. The disciplines have been enfeebled because:

    You can’t say that we should understand natural rights, because natural rights may come from God and most of the academy doesn’t believe in God.
    You can’t say that we learn about our human nature through Shakespeare, Dostoevsky, or Flaubert, because they are dead white males.
    You can’t say that some values are worth dying for, as many did in the American Revolution, for example, because that is militaristic.
    You can’t say that the thinking spawned by Western civilization lay the foundation for human liberty because you sound like a TeaPartier.

    There really isn’t much you can say to defend the humanities as they are now constituted in academia because the humanities faculties themselves have rejected so much of what they once were.  
     
    And we must keep in mind that what happens in the universities migrates to the high schools.  Really, once force out of the regiment, what is an English major to do but teach?  Same with other graduates of the Vanities.  And what they teach is what they heard since they seldom learn independent thought anymore.  
     
    This quote is more about the teaching of the manual arts in school, but, is also informative as to why the verbal arts are emphasized over the lessons that reveal the self delusion such as science and math:
     
    The reason of this is that, being automatic, they [the prevailing methods of education] lead neither to the discovery of truth nor to the detection of error. It is easy to juggle with words, to argue in a circle, to make the worse appear the better reason, and to reach false conclusions which wear a plausible aspect.  But it is not so with things.  If a cylinder is not tight the steam engine is a lifeless mass of iron of no value whatsoever.  A flaw in the wheel of the locomotive wrecks the train.  Through a defective flue in the chimney the house is set on fire.  A lie in the concreted is always hideous; like murder, it will out.  Hence it is that the mind is liable to fall into grave errors until it is fortified by the wise counsel of the practical hand. 
     

  3. says

    My liberal arts education consisted of Socrates, Aristotle, Sun Tzu, Roman military history, and Plato. My art curriculum consisted of mostly martial arts.
     
    But I guess they don’t hand out BAs for that particular combination of liberal arts. But even if they did, it would be on their terms, not mine.
     
    <B>(e.g., 1+1 always equals 2)</b>
     
    That’s not entirely correct. For most people, yeah, but not when you get to relative mathematical applications such as binary, trinary, hexadecimal, etc. 1+1 in binary is 10. This teaches students how to think in relative contexts, such as Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. This is dangerous to the Left precisely because it allows people to deconstruct propaganda. The very ability to perceive the differences in relative contexts, breaks much of the Leftist indoctrination sooner or later.
     
    In our decimal system, when 9 turns to 10, on the count of 10, the digit changes. So for binary, the change happens on 2 instead of 10. When the number reaches 2, the digit changes to 0 and a 1 is added to the left.
    Thus 2+2 in trinary would be 11. 2+1=10 1+10=10. In hexadecimal 2+2=4. Because it hasn’t reached the sixteen yet. Once it reaches sixteen, it becomes 10.
     
    a requirement which the Work Study kids greatly appreciated. In the ensuing decades, there has been a tendency to increase the number of math and science coursesneeded for graduation.
     
    That’s not a different point but a supporting one. High schools in the past provided work training, as well as higher education. They didn’t need a requirement because humans would self segregate and self specialize. High schools are now becoming feeders for universities and colleges, and the latter are indoctrination centers. There is no practical course, such as Japan’s agricultural schools.
     
    As for Americans falling behind the international world, given what I see being done in Japanese schools, that would be inevitable. The Leftist alliance, the international coalition, once tried to take over Japan but they failed to indoctrinate the education and art class. Failing to get a large enough domestic cadre to work as loyal, patriotic, Japanese, they could not duplicate the American feat of FDR or Lyndon.

  4. Danny Lemieux says

    There are still a few good Liberal Arts colleges scattered about the country. Hillsdale College, for example. Perhaps they, like the monasteries of old, will serve as oases of knowledge for a coming Renaissance. From tiny acorns doth the might oak grow. God knows, we need a Renaissance.
     
    Btw…the Liberal/Lefties ARE starting to penetrate the STEM fields and shut down dissenting points of view. The AGW hoax is but one manifestation of this.

  5. says

    Scientists that will not Comply will have their funding pulled, their character assassinated, and the next Review Board will find their credentials in need of nullification or censure. After that, the IRS and the SWAT death teams can clean up what remains.

  6. Navy Bob says

    Yesterday was Grandparents day at my granddaughters private high school.  I attended her 11th grade English class and the teacher was making the point that graphics and political cartoons can make points words cannot.  She passed out a John Cole cartoon of a grossly overweight family protesting Michelle’s healthy eating initiative, they were hold a sign that said “Give us Type 2 Diabetes, Heart Disease & Morbid obesity or Give us Death.  Michelle is holding a document labeled “Healthy Eating Intiative (sic) and saying “Or?”
    The teacher asked the class to name all the ways the cartoon was making points about the healthy eating initiative, such as eating junk food makes one fat, the fat child was emulating it’s fat parents etc.  But her real point, in my opinion, in putting this cartoon to the class was the Tea party people were a bunch of rubes.  Did I point out the overweight man had a three pointed colonial hat with a tea bag dangling from it?  And an American flag on his shirt.
    Very subtle, but enough of this each day and you are making some new leftists. 
     

  7. says

    Danny…”the Liberal/Lefties ARE starting to penetrate the STEM fields”…one thing I observe is that many STEM people have an extremely narrow knowledge base within STEM. For example, there are a lot of good computer programmers, systems designers, even tech-industry CEOs who know absolutely nothing about energy and electricity, and eagerly support “green” initiatives that would actually destroy the electrical infrastructure on which their servers operate. 

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