Old Patriot's Pen

Personal pontifications of an old geezer born 200 years too late.

NOTE The views I express on this site are mine and mine alone. Nothing I say should be construed as being "official" or the views of any group, whether I've been a member of that group or not. The advertisings on this page are from Google, and do not constitute an endorsement on my part.

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Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States

I've been everywhere That was the title of a hit country-and-western song from the late 1950's, originally sung by Hank Snow, and made famous by Johnny Cash. I resemble that! My 26-year career in the Air Force took me to more than sixty nations on five continents - sometimes only for a few minutes, other times for as long as four years at a time. In all that travel, I also managed to find the perfect partner, help rear three children, earn more than 200 hours of college credit, write more than 3000 reports, papers, documents, pamphlets, and even a handful of novels, take about 10,000 photographs, and met a huge crowd of interesting people. I use this weblog and my personal website here to document my life, and discuss my views on subjects I find interesting.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

My Final Word on Ward Churchill

Ward Churchill gave an "in your face" speech at CU-Boulder last night, challenging both the Regents and the State to do anything about his idiotic frothings. The article is here, courtesy of Rocky Mountain News. This speech highlights why Ward Churchill came to be in the position he currently holds, and why it's time to find a way around people like him and Russell Means.

The problem lies in a monopoly - a "monopoly" spread fairly evenly over more than 5000 different institutions in the United States and Canada. Colleges have a percieved "monopoly" on higher education. There's been a sea-change in college and university employment, where more and more people whose ideas are considered "progressive" have been employed, where the push is toward more "open", or "modern", or "enlightened" approaches to everything from teaching to history to philosophy and culture.

It's a problem that hasn't affected the sciences, engineering, and technical education, because the subject itself limits those that teach it to a select set of proven truths, or to the acceptance that theories must be backed by substantial evidence to be considered valid. That's not the case when one begins examining the so-called "soft" subjects, as Mark Goldblatt so ably demonsrates.

The "radicals", the "liberals", the "socialists", and the "communists" who spew anti-religios and frequently racial trash, capitalism-hating rants, and freedom-distorting diatribes get away with it because they're the only voice allowed to speak for almost a generation now. The result has been a weakening of the fabric of American society, the destruction of reasoning, and the alienation of large parts of our society from one another.

That needs to change.

It's time to end the monopoly of the "Academics". There are just as many intelligent, capable people outside of our universities as within them - people who have capabilities untapped by the classroom environment. As the Internet found a way to hold Government and Big Media accountable, it's time to hold "Academia" accountable. We, the people paying the bills, can do it in four steps:

  • Starve the beast

  • Withhold funding to colleges and universities that promote such idiocy as that spewed by the Ward Churchills of the world. Money talks. Withdraw funding, and the universities will become more self-correcting.

  • Demand openness and public accountability.

  • Require teachers to post their course materials online. Require them to include the titles and publishers of required classroom and outside reading. Require them to post online their methodology of grading and evaluating classroom material. Require them to be more precise in their online curriculum vitia.

  • Require colleges and universities to post a list of supported student organizations online, complete with their charters and membership requirements.

  • Include a posting online of the rules for establishing new organizations acceptable to the college. Post the final evaluation of new organizations, both accepted and rejected, with a list of the members that voted both for and against.

  • Encourage those active in the Internet community to post an alternative to every course, class, lecture, and lesson online, complete with the same information required of colleges and universities.

  • Give every student a chance to find information on every subject from a different source other than the one pushed by the college or university. Create an index of course material by subject, including multiple entries from different perspectives. Use extensive external links, book lists, article lists, and original research. Encourage those that use the material to donate to the author, to encourage the maintenance, update, and continued presence of the alternative and additional material.

Colleges and universities have a monopoly only as long as we allow them to. Just as the best course of action to gain excellence in industry is to promote competition, this method will be the best way to force excellence in education.

None of these steps will be effective on its own. It's either all or nothing. Together, however, they can force colleges and universities to both enter the 21st century, and bring the same type of accountability to "soft" subjects that are currently required for the sciences.

Once colleges and universities have been forced to compete, the next goal should be alternatives and competition in elementary and secondary education.

College, University, elementary and secondary education are only a few areas where alternatives and competition from the Web would be good. There is no field in which learning can take place that should be exempt, from flower aranging to hobbies and crafts, from home decor to music appreciation, from household chores to financial management. Some of the information is available, but difficult to dig out of a huge Google search with 10 million hits. There will need to be some form of review, validation, and indexing to reduce the confusion caused by hunting for a tiny nugget of information which might possibly be found within a list of a thousand sources. I think once the idea starts rolling, however, it will grow and expand on its own.

Ward Churchill would find it extremely difficult to spew his idiocy if there were readily available sources from hundreds of others to refute his assertions and call attention to his lack of research. With alternative information available, colleges and universities would be more hesitant to promote such charlatains to positions of prominence. People who can't afford to take the time to attend classes, or who can't afford the ever-spiraling cost of education would have an alternative they could trust. The overall effect would be to strengthen the entire education establishment.


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