Monday, September 05, 2005
This is what is wrong....
For those who argue that Higher Education is not hopelessly liberal, I offer the following exhibit:
American Voices, 5th edition
I am required to use this textbook for the composition classes I teach while earning my bread as a grad student. It's a reader, with lots of essays on race, class, gender, politics, etc. That, in and of itself, is not a bad thing. The problem has to do with how it is framed - this textbook renders itself impossible for use in creating productive classroom discussion. Here's why:
1. It claims to present "all sides" of an issue, but when the conservative side is presented, the essays get introductions such as this:
Love, Marriage and the Law - By: William J. Bennet.
William J. Bennet is one of the country's most prominent conservatives . . . With pundits like George Will and Roger Rosenblatt, he has been a leader of a gay-bashing, feminist-bashing, counterattack on multiculturalism and other mainstays of a liberal agenda . . . He has published tracts like The Book of Virtues to admonish America's poor to adopt higher moral standards . . . [He] earned $1,800,000 in speaking fess in a single year.
Before even reading the essay, the editors TELL YOU WHAT TO THINK. Bennet is an evil gay and feminist hater. He is a rich man who despises the poor for their low morals. This is not an attempt to explore all sides of an issue - the editors have clearly lined up the good guys and the bad guys. Classroom discussion is unneeded at this point, because the well has been poisoned - this book does not allow students to think for themselves or come to their own conclusions.
2. Liberal essayists are treated as victims, and this makes them worthwhile. In one intro, it notes Anna Quindlen receives hate mail because of her liberal views. I ask: so what? I'm sure neo-Nazi's get hate mail, but I'm not about to give them the benefit of "victim" status.
I could go on, but I won't. This reader pretends to teach writing skills and nuanced thinking, but all it teaches is an "us vs. them" mentality with healthy doses of entitlement and victimization status. Liberals are good. Conservatives are evil. This book indicates that there in NO possibility for national dialogue. I hope for better [but given the way liberals have used Hurricane Katrina to beat up Bush, that hope is dwindling].