Monday, January 26, 2004

I'll see your screwball and raise you a slider 

Well that didn't take long. Sunday's letters at the StarTribune included as its second item our first dive into ad hominem:
I am a college history professor with 37 years' experience. Were I asked to lend support to a screwball set of standards in chemistry, biblical studies, Spanish, law or English, I would defer my judgment. This deference to intellectual respect apparently does not obtain to the majority of those Minnesota professors who have lent their names to the transparently ideological "standards" for social studies.
I hope he teaches his kids at NDSU better than this. First, there are two separate letters, and those who were not social scientists signed a separate letter. Unfortunately news coverage and the careful readership of a history professor of 37 years couldn't pick that up.

Second, I assume Prof. Anderson has his students write. Would he be barred from decrying how writing is taught? My students use math -- if students were to come to my classes unable to plot points on a graph (and sadly, more and more are), do I not have a stake and something to say about the state of math education? Of course not. If he as a history professor of 37 years experience cannot say anything about how much anybody knows in any area other than history -- particularly someone who teaches Western Civilization! -- then I would say he has learned little from his experience.

Lastly, the scare quotes around the word standards is almost as bad as the use of the word screwball, and is a question-begging premise. Weak stuff. If you want to throw screwballs, get 'em up and in.