The Thinking 


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A University Markets Itself

December 12, 2012


CAROLYN, who commented on the University of California’s new logo at her blog, writes:

The University of California and the culture it represents aren’t quite meaningless, as you suggested. They now have a derived meaning. For example, remember Kentucky Fried Chicken? Each of those three words had an actual and specific meaning. Now the company is simply KFC. The meaning of those letters is derived entirely from the past: For all those old enough to remember, they still stand for Kentucky Fried Chicken. The meaning of the letters rests on the past . . . while the letters themselves simultaneously demolish the past. Read More »


Power through Symbol

December 10, 2012


I WAS mostly away from the computer this weekend and was able only to post quickly the entry about the changed University of California logo. When I returned, I found a half a dozen or so comments that captured the significance of this symbol. The comments so perfectly demonstrated the good sense and insight typical of the readers of this site.

I suggested that the logo, which will not replace the traditional symbol on diplomas, is an expression of the “meaningless university.” But obviously it — both the university and the logo — is filled with meaning.

Liberalism rejects pomp and pageantry and so it seems to eschew symbolism itself. And yet it uses its very pretension to un-pretentiousness quite effectively. This anodyne logo, as seemingly inoffensive as a transit authority sign, is as good as a declaration of hostility upon the culture that created the University of California, the culture of the book, the culture of the Christian West.

As Consultus says:

The removal of the book says, “No content here.”

Of course, that’s not right, either. There is content. It’s all Leftist propaganda.

These changes to accommodate PC do not create peace among factions. Typically, they further embolden those who think their own special group is entitled to take offense.

It is similar, as another reader points out, to this other of bit of liberal regalia:

Read More »


The Meaningless University

December 9, 2012


INEZ writes:

I thought you and your readers might find this news from my alma mater both interesting and disturbing:

The University of California is changing its seal from its traditional one (bearing the motto, “Let There Be Light”) to a modern monstrosity that looks like a toddler’s drawing on the old Window’s program Paint.

  Read More »


Who Shall Pay this Debt?

October 24, 2012


INTERESTING comments have been added to the discussion about an Alaska woman who is too impoverished by student loans to join a cloistered convent. In that entry, David C. tells the story of a female friend who recently graduated from a top university with a degree in Latin American studies. Leaving aside the issue of what this degree has done to her intellectual development, David explains that she is already considering defaulting on her $75,000 in loans, with her parents’ approval.

David writes:

I’m 26 years old. My friend is a few years younger than me and graduated recently from a prestigious university with a degree in Latin American studies. Total cost: $75,000… almost totally financed by student loans, one of which has, I believe she’s told me, an 11 percent interest rate. She is currently unemployed and is certainly having difficulty finding work in her field. The most realistic opportunity she has found so far is work as an au pair for a family in Spain, which she may be able to do next year. Read More »


One Woman Who Never Went to College

October 12, 2012


A picture of Jane Austen by her sister Cassandra

HISTORY is filled with bright and cultured women who never went to college. Jane Austen, to cite one example, had no formal schooling after the age of eleven. Austen was born in December of 1775. According to the Wikipedia entry on her life:

In 1783, according to family tradition, Jane and Cassandra were sent to Oxford to be educated by Mrs. Ann Cawley and they moved with her to Southampton later in the year. Both girls caught typhus and Jane nearly died.[24] Austen was subsequently educated at home, until leaving for boarding school with her sister Cassandra early in 1785. The school curriculum probably included some French, spelling, needlework, dancing and music and, perhaps, drama. By December 1786, Jane and Cassandra had returned home because the Austens could not afford to send both of their daughters to school.[25]

Austen acquired the remainder of her education by reading books, guided by her father and her brothers James and Henry.  [26] George Austen apparently gave his daughters unfettered access to his large and varied library, was tolerant of Austen’s sometimes risqué experiments in writing, and provided both sisters with expensive paper and other materials for their writing and drawing.[27] According to Park Honan, a biographer of Austen, life in the Austen home was lived in “an open, amused, easy intellectual atmosphere” where the ideas of those with whom the Austens might disagree politically or socially were considered and discussed.[28]

Strange, that Austen’s father saw to her education. As we know, from reading Mary Wollstonecraft, Virginia Woolf and many other feminists, fathers back then, for all intents and purposes, hated their daughters and wanted to keep them as stupid as possible.

One wonders what kind of person Austen would be if she had been born 18 or 20 years ago and was an English major taking courses in textual analysis at an Ivy League school today. Instead of wandering through a private library, content to follow her own way through Shakespeare, Milton and Sophocles, with the loving supervision of her father, she would be grinding out papers on interspecies dialogue or great African authors or on the role of women in ancient Chinese poetry. And even Jane might be getting drunk on weekends or having naked trysts in library stairwells. After all, human beings can only rise so much above their circumstances.

Poor Jane. She would never be able to probe her great, God-given subject: the tension between the sexes. She would be relentlessly informed that the sexes don’t exist. How then can there be tension between them? There is now only tension between the age when the sexes were believed to exist and the age, enlightened and liberated, when they do not exist. Issue closed. What more can one say?

Jane would be silenced.

Perhaps she would be one more bit of walking proof that spending $200,000 on a fancy education can, however much it may equip you for the job market, actually make you dumber.


The Education Con Game

September 3, 2012

ALAN writes:

If American parents had any sense, they would laugh at the pretentious nonsense “education experts” routinely write and speak. The purpose of school jargon is not to convey information but to create illusions, to make simple, ordinary things appear mysterious, complicated, and expensive. In 1976, Edwin Newman wrote: “In the field of education, the competition in producing nonsense is intense.” His words are as relevant today as ever.

Recently I happened by chance to see a 12-page booklet entitled “Effective Public School Governance,” a “White Paper” published in 2007 by the “Education Funders of St. Louis,” a group of do-gooders who apparently have more money than they can possibly put to good use. They “engaged a team of education experts” to “study urban school governance.” Read More »


The Sickening Pace of Early Childhood Education

February 25, 2011


KATHLENE M. writes:

This article explores how kindergarten has become worse in recent years. This excerpt interested me for the reason I explain below:

How and why has kindergarten changed?

In a word: testing.

According to a 2009 report from the Washington, D.C.-based Alliance for Childhood, kindergartners are being taught to comply with state and national standards, which takes away from creative play-time known to be important to early childhood development. Read More »


Did Kindergarten Save the World?

February 22, 2011


IN 1893, on her death bed, Elizabeth Mardewel, an education reformer who was pioneer of the kindergarten in California, uttered these words: “I believe in the power of the kindergarten to reform the world.”

As recounted in Rousas John Rushdoony’s The Messianic Character of American Education, Mardewel also said, kindergarten would “regenerate the human race.”

In truth, the history of early childhood education in America is the history of waning maternal attachment and the declining family. Kindergarten did reform the human race. But not for the better.



A High School Girl Wins

February 18, 2011



KAREN I. writes:

I am sending a picture of Cassie Herkelman, the girl who won the Iowa state wrestling match by forfeit. From what I read, another girl wrestled a boy in the same tournament and lost the first match after being pinned in 52 seconds. I also read that Joel Northrup, who refused on principle to wrestle a girl, can still participate in other matches in the tournament despite forfeiting the match with Herkelman. 

Northrup can hold his head high, knowing he did the right thing. I wonder if Herkelman is equally proud of her “achievement.”

Read More »


A Wrestling Champion Seizes the Day

February 17, 2011




HERE IS a news story that will make your day. This really happened in America.

An Iowa high school wrestling champ bowed out of a state competition today because he refused to wrestle with a girl. Joel Northrup, who is homeschooled, forfeited the match with Cassie Herkelman. He stated:

I have a tremendous amount of respect for Cassy and Megan (Black, the tournament’s other female entrant) and their accomplishments. However, wrestling is a combat sport and it can get violent at times. As a matter of conscience and my faith, I do not believe that it is appropriate for a boy to engage a girl in this manner. It is unfortunate that I have been placed in a situation not seen in most of the high school sports in Iowa.

Read More »


A Tiger Mother and Parental Hysteria

January 18, 2011


FEW RECENT STORIES in the mainstream news are less compelling to me than the uproar over Yale Law School Professor Amy Chua’s article in the Wall Street Journal “Why Chinese Mothers are Superior.” The article is based on Chua’s book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, which is about raising her two daughters to be the sort of hyper-engineered students who are worthy of an Ivy League degree.

Chua, who seems to have done well by American educational institutions, criticizes American culture for being too lax with children. Having benefited from American largesse, she now turns on her hosts. This sort of criticism from an Asian reduces parents to a state of quivering, jello-like fear.

Americans are already in the grip of manufactured hysteria about whether their children can compete internationally. From the earliest moments of parenthood, they lie awake wondering whether their offspring will get into good colleges and if they will have the enormous treasures to pay for it. They read articles about how their children are dumber than the rest of the world, articles which are skewed by the failure to mention the demographic realities of American educational statistics, which include a large underclass that will never compete globally. They then welcome the heaps of homework their children receive. They give their sons and daughters over to assembly-line education all in the mistaken belief that training is all that matters.

Then Amy Chua comes along and tells them all this is not enough. Their children are still stupid, destined to sink to the nether levels of the global economy. I haven’t read all of the enormous commentary about Chua’s points, but I wonder if it has occurred to American parents that their children might not have to compete so hard if our colleges did not admit the best and brightest from the four corners of the globe and if our nation did not often fail to protect its own economic interests. In the grip of their irrational fears and great eagerness to please, they perhaps do not have the clarity of mind to see this. Read More »


The New Dumbness

September 7, 2010


JOHN TAYLOR GATTO, the former New York City school teacher turned writer, is an engaging critic of modern schooling, effectively skewering that Utopian, dangerously small-minded religion we know of as “education.” In his book Weapons of Mass Instruction, Gatto writes:

Ordinary people send their children to school to get smart, but what modern schooling teaches is dumbness. Old-fashioned dumbness used to be simple ignorance. Now it’s been transformed into permanent mathematical categories of relative stupidity, such as “gifted and talented,” “mainstream,” and “special ed” – categories in which learning is rationed for the good of the system and the social order. Dumb people are no longer merely ignorant. Now they are dangerous imbeciles whose minds must be conditioned with substantial doses of commercially prepared disinformation for tranquilizing purposes. Read More »


Welcome to Barack Obama Elementary, Comrades

August 25, 2010


DALE F. writes: 

The other day, a friend sent me a link to a piece by Will Hutton, a writer for the UK Guardian, contemplating mostly with satisfaction the civilizational accomplishments of his (and my) “baby boom” generation. 

This morning I saw this article:

The first school in the D.C. area named after the current president opens Monday morning as the school year begins in Prince George’s County. Read More »


College Girls on the Path to Success

May 25, 2010



For the second time in recent weeks, a chapter of the Pi Beta Phi sorority is being accused of drunkenly trashing a facility during a formal dance. At a March 6 party sponsored by the group’s Ohio University chapter, attendees engaged in sex acts, used plates as “missiles” during food fights, vomited on carpets, defecated in urinals, and tried to tear off the clothes of a female bartender, according to a letter written by the director of the West Virginia art center where the formal was held. Read More »


The Decline in Male Achievement, cont.

May 24, 2010



I’d like to offer a contrarian view of your post on graduation levels of men and women.

If I understand correctly Jesse Powell’s statistics are aggregate graduation rates for all undergraduate degrees. However, most undergraduate degrees are awarded for liberal arts courses, history, psychology, sociology, English, etc. I don’t have the stats handy but I’m pretty sure that if you look at graduation rates for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields you will find they are preponderantly awarded to men. Read More »


Women’s Higher Education

April 22, 2010


A reader writes:

I teach at a state university, so I am exposed to hundreds of students each year, and each year, I note with dismay the number of young women who as a matter of course display themselves as cheap, easy sexual conquests. Although I try to serve as an example of femininity and modesty they can respect (and based on feedback I receive, I know at least some of them notice), it is very clear that this generation is saturated in the idea that “hooking up” is normal and acceptable. Case in point, please see the attached file–it is a flier that was posted everywhere in the building where I teach. I tore one off the wall, but I couldn’t tear them all off (and if I could, I would probably be reprimanded for violating someone’s free speech). Please note the number of tabs (with contact information) missing. Yet none of these young women recognize that although young men are happy to use them sexually, they still prefer less experienced girls for marriage. Of course, if they did recognize it they would howl about how unfair it is, as if their ideas about “fair” have anything to do with anything.

Laura writes:

Thank you, Mary Wollstonecraft! Thank you, Virginia Woolf! Women of today pursue higher learning passionately.

Read More »


What the President Didn’t Say

September 8, 2009


In his pep talk to the nation’s children today, President Obama forgot to mention that many of the greatest Americans never went to school or hardly went at all. It’s a fact that contradicts much of what he said. Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Alexander Graham Bell, and Thomas Edison had very little formal schooling. Most prominent early Americans who did attend schools, men such as Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, attended small institutions that have nothing in common physically or culturally with today’s large factory schools. 

Obama displayed the sort of earnest, well-meaning belief in school that is held by the majority of Americans. The nation’s public school system has two redeeming features: it employs hundreds of thousands of decent and hard-working adults, and it provides childcare. It is a jobs program and a babysitting service. As an institution devoted to learning and to individual development, mass government schooling fails. It is an enemy to liberty, to the family, to individual happiness and to the American way. People succeed in spite of school not because of it.


Obama’s Speech to Children

September 5, 2009


 Jim Greer, chairman of Florida’s Republican Party, stated this week in regard to President Obama’s upcoming speech to the nation’s schoolchildren: 

“As the father of four children, I am absolutely appalled that taxpayer dollars are being used to spread President Obama’s socialist ideology. The idea that school children across our nation will be forced to watch the president justify his plans for government-run health care, banks, and automobile companies, increasing taxes on those who create jobs, and racking up more debt than any other president, is not only infuriating, but goes against beliefs of the majority of Americans, while bypassing American parents through an invasive abuse of power. 

While I support educating our children to respect both the office of the American President and the value of community service, I do not support using our children as tools to spread liberal propaganda. 

This is silly. The entire American school system bypasses parents through an invasive abuse of power. Children are used as tools to spread liberal propaganda every hour of the day. The president is the Teacher-in-Chief and this speech is no departure from business as usual. Has Greer looked at any of his children’s textbooks? Has he ever asked them what goes on in school?


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