Thursday, July 14, 2005

Creating moral monsters 

I used the phrase above about eight years ago in a discussion of creating a "democratic citizenship" course here at SCSU. My issue was the fad of "service learning" which was the rage at the time. My problem is that the service projects that are likely to be approved by faculty as a learning project will be those that forward the radical left agenda that dominates campuses. I was persuasive at the time that the democratic citizenship course not require a service learning component, though I think the point that won the day was the practicality of creating projects for 2300 students a year.

An example of what I was talking about appears in today's St. Cloud Times, wherein students have organized a protest of the name of the De Soto Bridge that crosses the Mississippi in downtown St. Cloud.
During a rally Wednesday, more than 50 people held signs that read "Discover the truth," and chanted "De Soto has got to go" on Division Street as a constant stream of traffic passed.

Some wore white T-shirts with a red circle around De Soto's name and a slash through the middle.

...A St. Cloud State University human relations class taught by Suellyn Hofmann started the coalition of 15 members June 15 as part of an assignment to create an anti-oppression project, said Brigette Baird, a member of the coalition and class.

Horton-Rosten, a senior at St. Cloud State and a member of the Manitou Rapids Ontario band of Ojibwe, brought the idea to the class in early June.

Since then, the class has researched De Soto's life, American Indian history and the construction of the St. Cloud monument, Baird said.
Unsurprisingly, they found out De Soto mistreated American Indians. (Side note: Is there any evidence of any Spanish explorer who treated Indians well?) I get no sense from the article the degree of harm done by DeSoto, who to most writers was a treasure hunter who had no qualms about using force to get gold from Peru and later the U.S. He's not a loveable guy.

But course credit? Prof. Hoffman teaches two courses this term, one called Practicum on Social Empowerment, and the other Change Agent Skills.

HURL 491/591. Change Agent Skills
Study of the theories of social empowerment and the development of practical skills for producing institutional and personal change.

HURL 492/592. Practicum in Social Empowerment
Experiential practicum. Application of theory and research to constructive institutional and social change.
Course for teaching how to run a protest. These are "professional development courses" that " give students the opportunity to develop skills relevant to the practice of social responsibility in a variety of practice settings." Another example is W.I.L.D. Week from a couple of years ago.

In the good old days, kids who led protests dropped out, hung around the school. Now they are getting degrees for becoming professionally developed protesters.