November 19, 2007

The never-ending U.D. thought-control saga

The University of Delaware held a forum for students last night to discuss the temporarily dismantled freshmen "diversity" program. Alison Kepner's article is what is to be expected -- a bunch of fluff giving a forum to those who dislike and like the [former] program -- but I wonder, for one thing, if a sub-headline "UD forum on now-scrapped diversity training draws about 50" would be used for an article about politically correct gathering. I doubt it. And here's the money quote:

But a third group worried that without mandating or formalizing the talks, they may never happen, a concern on a campus where tensions already exist -- especially after a graduate student told police he had seen a noose on a tree by Orchard Road near the main campus earlier this year.

Well, of course! I've already opined that this ... "incident" has already given UD President Harker and his minions the "excuse" they need to continue with the program, however "changed" they may try to make it.

In other news, Sunday's News Journal featured an article about the UD diversity program's creator. Shakti Butler of the World Trust Educational Services claims she was "stunned" by the [negative] reaction to the UD program. (Notice too article author Beth Miller's editorializing -- she writes "The Oakland, Calif., filmmaker's efforts to build bridges between people of vastly different backgrounds -- work that had been hailed on campuses and at offices around the nation..." Oh, so there has been NO criticism other than that at UD? And hailed by whom, exactly? Who on campuses and offices around the nation?) Butler, who believes her African, Arawak Indian and Russian-Jewish heritage gives her "credibility," said she never has seen a reaction like that seen at UD:

"I've never had this kind of reaction," she said. "I call this reaction totally reactionary and designed to create a deep divide among people, which is the antithesis of what I'm trying to do."

"It's not to shove information down people's throats," she said. "It's not, 'This is what you need to believe. This is true.' But 'What is going on and why is that so?' It's a process of critical thinking."

"Reactionary," of course, equals "right-wing."

Oh please, Ms. Butler. Wake up and smell the thought-control. It is YOUR program that is fostering any divide among people! When perfectly nice and thoughtful young people are forced to discuss things they do not wish, and are coerced to adopt a particular point-of-view, THAT is what divides people.

"There are a lot of people in this country who believe there are no racial problems here," she said. "And there are no problems with gays and lesbians -- they just need to learn to be straight. We have to be able to explore our weaknesses so they can become strengths. That way, we can create a society that is equitable for everybody."

It is your opinion, Ms. Butler, that there are "a lot" of people who think there are no racial problems in the USA. But let's cut through the BS and break it down: Ms. Butler and those like her believe racism and racial strife are rampant in America, hence programs like that at UD are "desperately needed." To them, it is completely unacceptable to believe the contrary -- that racism, while still existing, is not a very big problem at all. Therefore, programs like UD's are essential.

For what it's worth, Ms. Butler's PhD was received from the School of Transformative Learning and Change at the California Institute of Integral Studies. Whatever the hell they are. This might help, from Ms. Butler's organization's website:

Transformative learning is a form of adult education involving experiences that result in a deep, structural shift in thoughts and feelings, which then inform one's actions. This shift in consciousness can be very subtle or quite extraordinary. Often, it alters our way of making meaning and being in the world. Such a deep-seated shift involves our understanding and our relationships with other people, the natural world, and ourselves. (Link.)

Um, er, uh, OK ....

Speaking of California and along the same topic, the superintendent of the state's schools, in his infinite "wisdom," has adopted the program of a one Glenn Singleton, creator of "Courageous Conversations":

[Jack] O'Connell now believes that widespread cultural ignorance within the California school system is responsible for the poor academic performance of many black and Latino students in school.

He offered the example of black children who learn at church that it's good to clap, speak loudly and be a bit raucous. But doing the same thing at school, where 72 percent of teachers are white and may be unfamiliar with such customs, will get them in trouble, he said.

Also on center stage will be Glenn Singleton, the coach O'Connell hired for the Education Department's racial sensitivity classes. Singleton runs a San Francisco consulting firm called Pacific Educational Group and is the author of "Courageous Conversations about Race: a Strategy for Achieving Equity in Schools."

Contrary to widely held views that parents play a strong role in whether their children do well academically, Singleton believes the schools, not parents, are the biggest influence.

"If we were to say that black or brown kids don't perform as well because of their parents, we're saying black and brown parents aren't as effective as white parents," Singleton told The Chronicle. "That's pretty much a racist statement."

Where to start? We at Colossus have covered this sort of utter nonsense countless times before. The first, and obvious, thing that comes to mind is, if "cultural ignorance" is primarily responsible for student under-achievement, how in the hell do Asian students outperform white students? A satisfactory answer is never forthcoming from these hacks. Why? Because it totally disproves their opinions. And make no mistake -- that's precisely what they are: opinions. Their programs are not based on any scientifically sound research. Actually, if you think about it, that's one of the benefits of such a program, especially Singleton's. The program has as one its "Four Agreements" that there might not be any resolution to the issues that CCs raise -- "Expect and accept non-closure." If there's not any closure, what better excuse to continue the program, eh? What a racket!

I'm almost speechless about that "clapping in church," anecdote. Do black parents inform their children that it is acceptable to be loud, raucous and clap their hands during whatever it is that they're doing -- like being in a classroom? (See how Singleton's beliefs are easily inverted to make them "racist" statements? Radical diversophilia is always like that!) What about at their job? O'Connell and Singleton (who has advised the Seattle School District in the past) might want to take a gander at the responses by [minority] students in this article as to what would help them succeed in school. One of the big answers? "Simple quiet." Say whaaat? Black children saying they can learn better -- if the class is quiet, with less distractions? Don't they know they're not acting as they ought, according to the "experts"? Aren't they aware, as one "expert" in Seattle has said, "We, as a people (blacks), are loud"?

Singleton may believe that schools are a bigger influence on children than parents. I happen to believe that Singleton is a singular dolt, so that makes it even out, I suppose.

Lastly, is it "racist" to bring up the fact that the illegitimacy rate among African-Americans, especially in the inner-cities, is ridiculously high -- and that this plays a huge role in these students' poor educational achievement? Is it a "racist" statement to say that Asian parents push their children harder than any other ethnic/racial group, and that accounts for much of those students' success?

If so, it's yet one more reason why the meaning of "racism" has lost much of its original [rightful] force.

Posted by Hube at November 19, 2007 05:32 PM | TrackBack

Comments  (We reserve the right to edit and/or delete any comments. If your comment is blocked or won't post, e-mail us and we'll post it for you.)

Scrap the program! What a waste of my daughter's tuition payment. Try spending the extra money on Professors and TA's that speak English. I'm all for diversity and opportunity, but not at the expense of my daughter's education.

Posted by: Marie at November 20, 2007 01:20 AM

I have not visited as much as I would have liked; the research on the "wind thing" has tied down my free time a bit. Thanks for carrying the ball on this UD thought control experiment.

As I think about it, originally at one time, this program may have been a good idea. Expose those who are ripe for prejudices from previous inexperience, to the facts, and they should on their own, alleviate the prejudice. Personally that is how all my prejudices from my upbringing were dissolved.........going all the way back to my infancy where the choice was simply between "THOSE KNOWN" and "THOSE UNKNOWN". I guess one could summarize my entire educational process has been simply the moving of a category from one set to the other........

What has became the controversial hot button is the zeal with which this program as seized upon and with which it was implemented on a floor by floor basis....Anytime "zeal" is applied indiscriminately, it tends to yield resistance...

Perhaps a better result could have come from telling students "you are not going to be considered mature, until you can look at each personal transaction independent of any previously held notions". Such a statement probably would have been appropriate. Everyone aspires to have a better job, and carrying the baggage of old prejudices, does not do well in today's market place.

There still needs to be a system for educating those few who, until they have arrived at the University's doorstep, have only been exposed to one obsolete way of thinking and arrive under the assumption that their way is the only right way......

Ironically by forcing students to change their views using "whatever" psychological tactics, this program uses the very principals it was formed to combat, to achieve the goals it set forth in its original effort; those goals to eradicate the very same principals, which it now finds itself using....

Bottom line, the plan could have had some merit, if the execution had been performed within the guidlines of the Constitution..........

Posted by: kavips at November 21, 2007 10:16 AM