You Reap What You Sow

I came across this from Andrew Bolt’s blog, citing Janet Albrechtson’s highly interesting article in The Australian yesterday:

It’s compelling viewing and shows very clearly what happens when you let the tail wag the dog.

It also reminds me of a recent meeting I had at my alma mater with a law lecturer – where she lamented how the university had re-labelled ‘teaching and learning’ to ‘learning and teaching’ to reinforce that the students (and not the teachers) were the central priority. There was little to say to this. We could both only shake our heads and sigh.

For those following the decline of Western colleges and universities, the content of Albrechtson’s article regarding the Evergreen College incident is all too familiar:

To fully understand the Evergreen affair, start with the fact that this small college in Washington state has been a progressive, left-leaning university since its founding. Academics teach year-long programs where they really get to know each of their students, and vice versa. Understand too that Weinstein, who has taught at Evergreen for 14 years, is, as he told Fox News recently, “deeply progressive”. (How he came to be on Fox, not CNN or NPR, will soon become apparent.) He voted for Bernie Sanders and before that supported the Occupy Wall Street movement. He fought ­racism throughout his life. Yet none of this stopped the left turning on its own.

Every year Evergreen has held a “Day of Absence” based on a 1965 play by Douglas Turner Ward where the black population absents itself from a town for a day so the white community realises the importance of people of colour. In the play, chaos ensues. At Evergreen, chaos also ensued, though for different reasons.

This year organisers decided to ask whites to stay off campus. The implication was clear: no ally of black people would turn up. Weinstein sent an email to university staff pointing out the world of difference between a section of the population absenting itself from a shared space and a section of the population telling another section to stay away. He thought the point was obvious: on campus speech must be free and people must be free to be there regardless of skin colour. As a Jew, he was particularly unsettled by being directed to stay away.

For his anti-racist stance, Weinstein was hunted down that Tuesday morning like a modern-day witch.

As Weinstein told Dave Rubin on The Rubin Report, here is the logical end point of progressive politics. Mixed with political correctness, identity politics, woolly notions of “equity” that no one bothers to define, progressivism has become a retrograde movement, a kind of reverse racism unravelling the gains of the civil rights movement that sought to erase race as a determinant of human worth. “We should be anti-supremacist,” Weinstein told Joe Rogan in another of the many ­interviews he’s done to explain the significance of that day at Evergreen. Left-liberal media hasn’t ­approached him, he says. Not CNN or NPR or The New York Times.

A trip to the college’s Wikipedia page also yields the following:

The Evergreen State College is a regionally accredited public liberal arts college and a member of the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges, located in Olympia, Washington, US. Founded in 1967, Evergreen was formed to be an experimental and non-traditional college. Full-time students enroll in interdisciplinary academic programs instead of classes. Programs typically offer students the opportunity to study several disciplines in a coordinated manner. Faculty write narrative evaluations of students’ work in place of issuing grades.

Evergreen offers a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts and Bachelor of Science, Master of Environmental Studies, Master of Public Administration, and Master in Teaching.

Suffice to say, the ‘experiment’ has failed miserably.

However, one thing that has been completely missed is the failure of the likes of Weinstein to accept any shred of responsibility for creating this mess. On reading about this situation it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that the Weinsteins of this world are victims or even some sort of now-useful allies. They’re not: they’re among the chief culprits.

When you saturate young and impressionable students with a purported holier-than-thou political correctness that is hypocritical, logically inconsistent and impossible to implement and sustain – and treat those students as customers, but don’t make them pay like real customers for good measure – then don’t be surprised if your ‘customers’:

  • find the time to hold a virtue auction in your absence;
  • conclude that they are, indeed, holier than thou;
  • decide that they don’t need to hear from you any more; and
  • most critically, become UTTERLY USELESS IN THE REAL WORLD.

The children in the above video did what they did because it is exactly what they were trained and financially incentivised to do.

When it comes to higher education, there are two broad extremes when it comes to placements and funding – either of which would provide far better outcomes than those we’re seeing today:

  • fully fund all degrees – but only offer placements for an extremely limited number of students who clearly demonstrate superior talent, ability and work ethic; and
  • fund nothing – and make everyone pay market value.

I’m not advocating either of these extremes. I’m simply saying that each one would be better than the current mess we have where we:

  • attempt to subsidise all of everyone’s degrees outright (on the mystifying basis that university education should be ‘free’);
  • provide generous and uncommercial loans for the remainder; and
  • let just about anyone into a college or university regardless of their ability.

(See pages 11-12 of this report for example).

It would certainly have avoided the kind of ludicrous rabble you see in the video above and in countless other (remember QUT?) higher learning institutions:

Of course, common sense says that you take the best parts of both extremes and partially fund some degrees for those demonstrating the necessary ability.

However, what has happened in practice is that the worst possible system has been implemented where just about everyone is ‘entitled’ to go to a university and treated like a customer – but not made to pay like a customer.

I constantly see people blithely wondering why it’s harder to get a job out of university these days – but can anyone seriously be surprised at this result? What else would you expect when there is an oversupply of a bad product?

Untitled

(See page 4).

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22 Responses to You Reap What You Sow

  1. Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray

    Why not just hand out Uni Degrees without the elitist need to study the subject? It would be a lot simpler all round.
    Q. How many Uni students does it take to change a light bulb?
    A. None- they’re too busy trying to change the world!

  2. Sinclair Davidson

    I had exactly the same thoughts on Weinstein. He is not a victim here – he ‘educated’ those barbarians. To his mind the problem isn’t that they are barbarians but that the barbarians have turned on him.

  3. a happy little debunker

    ‘If you stand for nothing, you’ll fall for anything’

    Love it!

  4. Dr Fred Lenin

    Its simple to sort out red students ,defund humanities ,only fund medicine ,engineering and science apart from climate crap . Let the rest pay for their degrees themselves . Defunding is the cure for globalist soros socialism ,no money ,no dogma ,if you dont know where your next meal is coming from ,it takes your mind off bullshit ,work or starve if you are ablebodied .

  5. Dr Faustus

    I constantly see people blithely wondering why it’s harder to get a job out of university these days – but can anyone seriously be surprised at this result?

    The graph in figure 1 is interesting in that context.

    The number of CSP’s (and consequent supply of graduates) skyrocketed from 2007/08. Not sure what happened at that time but, whatever it was, it appears that Commonwealth policy delivered a diminishing return on education spend.

  6. cynical1

    Franken,err, Weinstein’s monster is out of control.

    Poetic justice.

    Imagine Baghdadi tossing off David Marr.

    The road to hell, etc.

  7. Bad Samaritan

    I’m not really sure what this article is all apart. Play with fire; get burned? Is that all this adds up to?

  8. Sydney Boy

    So if I identify as a 15 year old girl, then there’s no problem with me having sex with a 14 year old girl.

  9. Craig

    Sinc,

    How are your students responding to this mess called, higher learning? Are they learning from you? Are they encouraging them to go away and seek real world examples of theory in action? Or are your students safe-space concientious?

  10. a reader

    Isn’t this basically Lord of the Flies made real?

    That video of the Washington State kids is unbelievable. And if you watch the other videos that mob has produced you question how the hell society will function. I mean I’m less than 10 years older than some of those kids and my lot weren’t like that. WTF happened?

    My theory is it started when phonics stopped being de rigeur and they moved to that whole word bollocks

  11. Sinclair Davidson

    My students operate in a very safe space. I explain that it is far better for them to be wrong in my class than in the assessment and far better to be wrong in the assessment than in the real world.

    The good students are still good, the mediocre still mediocre. Some learn heaps others less so.

    It is really hard to get excited by the increase in numbers over the past couple of decades. The fact is there is always going to be waste in the education system. We either waste human capital or we waste money.

  12. IDefender of the faith

    It has been obvious for some time that universities in general are not effective learning environs. A major reason for this is that very few of them are capable of creating research. At the same time too many have no serious focus on teaching. We should drastically reduce the number with research budgets and make them wholly accessible by merit for both staff and students. The rest should be teaching institutions with no research and tough performance metrics based on teaching outcomes.

  13. JohnA

    Dr Fred Lenin #2433967, posted on July 6, 2017 at 6:11 pm

    …if you dont know where your next meal is coming from ,it takes your mind off bullshit ,work or starve if you are ablebodied .

    Dr Fred, it was originally stated like this:
    For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: ‘The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.’ 2 Thess 3:10

  14. David from Canberra

    I propose a solution. At present universities are funded with no regard to the effectiveness of their courses. Bad students and bad courses (eg interpretive transgender dance theory) are funded even though their graduates have no hope of earning money in the real world sufficient to pay off their debt. Even worse, it is to the uni’s advantage to offer an extended, expensive, multi-year course to spin out the funding gravy train.

    Solution 1: make the student pay, either in advance or in arrears. We’ll hear lots of complaints about “fairness”, but good students who are poor will get scholarships on merit. Students will have greater incentive to choose an appropriate course based upon their own assessment of their abilities. However I prefer:

    Solution 2: make the university funding contingent on the graduates being able to pay back. HECS can be retained, with all HECS payments going directly to the university of each graduate. If the student earns more than than the HECS threshold, the uni gets paid. If the student doesn’t earn enough, then the university gets nothing.

    Universities will then have incentive to tailor courses to their estimated outcome of future graduate earnings. Lower estimated graduate earnings means that less beneficial courses will be shorter and cheaper. Traditional beneficial courses will get greater emphasis and funding by the unis because they will have a greater future earning stream. Furthermore, there is no incentive for a uni to take a bad student and give them a “degree” because the poor student is unlikely as a graduate in the real world to be able to coast to a high enough salary to pay back their HECS. Good unis will earn more from HECS because their degrees and graduates are in higher demand.

    Make unis responsible for offering real learning that is of benefit to their students and the economy.

  15. md

    I know a secondary school teacher who thought he was doing his students a good turn by bringing in a young, successful business person to speak to his class – you know the type: they call themselves entrepreneurs and philanthropists and when you get down to it all they want to do is talk about themselves. I pointed out to the teacher that all he was doing was giving his students a dream rather than a plan. I told him that those who have good parents and good genes and, sometimes, good luck will do okay in life. It is the remainder of his students that he needs to worry about. I told him that he needed to teach his students how to be losers rather than winners, which is a harsh way of saying that most people aren’t going to be rich, beautiful and successful, and the most important thing the education system can do for them is to show them how to make their way in life doing the best they can with the hand they’ve been dealt. But, of course, the Left run our education system so such students have no hope at all, which is why the campuses are brimming with angry, aggrieved, vengeful, self-loathing leftists.

  16. Tim Neilson

    We should drastically reduce the number with research budgets and make them wholly accessible by merit for both staff and students. The rest should be teaching institutions with no research and tough performance metrics based on teaching outcomes.
    Agreed.
    In short, reverse the Dawkins “reforms”.
    I’d personally add, shut down about a quarter of the “universities” altogether, and apply the savings part in better funding of the remainder and partly to pay down debt.

  17. Clam Chowdah

    This would all go away if the university ruled that they would award no course credits to these tools. After that, their wealthy parents would give the kids their marching orders.

  18. Terry

    WTF are these people even doing at university (genuine question), what are they being taught (rhetorical) and (in the Australian case) why am I paying?

  19. Louis

    Ever since finishing university the first time I have thought of them as the most predatory businesses out there. They get to sucker in a bunch of 17yrs (in QLD) into making the second biggest purchase of their lives. Have fun now and pay later. You’ll find that all the university advertising doesn’t just sell the degree program it sells the university lifestyle.

    And let’s not forget how great it is for certain types to be surround by naive attractive young things that hang off their every word and require their approval. How are universities going with the whole don’t sleep with students thing?

  20. The BigBlueCat

    Clam Chowdah
    #2434422, posted on July 7, 2017 at 8:34 am
    This would all go away if the university ruled that they would award no course credits to these tools. After that, their wealthy parents would give the kids their marching orders.

    I agree.

    If these students are unwilling or unable attend classes and earn their degrees, irrespective of whether or not the professors are being discriminatory, then the college has 1 alternative available to them – fail those students. They should not challenge the institution like that. If they don’t like that college, they should exercise their free will and go somewhere else.

    If the college has actually been discriminatory, then again, leave and go elsewhere. Degrees are awarded for achievement, not for attendance. Or at least that’s how it should be. But for the average leftist, it’s all about equality of outcome … no wonder our education standards have declined in comparison to other states where the entitled left hasn’t gained the same sort of foothold.

  21. Crisus

    “where she lamented how the university had re-labelled ‘teaching and learning’ to ‘learning and teaching’ to reinforce that the students (and not the teachers) were the central priority.”

    Shameful. Another example of how West Civ is doomed.

  22. LBLoveday

    My daughter did a Bachelor Degree in Fashion Design! Booked up on HECS, as I’d told her from year 11 onwards, that I would help out if she did a rigorous degree, but not a Mickey Mouse one.
    I looked at her essays assignments in Communication subjects – predictably along the lines of how to consider the environment when designing, how Indigenous culture can be taken into account….
    But what took the cake was what I’d term a “field trip” – the class went to Hong Kong, booked up to HECS of course. Daughter texted me asking whether she’d been to Macau when younger as it looked familiar. I guess they were getting fashion design pointers from the clothes worn by casino customers.

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