Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Daily effects of indoctrination, Part V 

We have done a long series on bulletin boards on this campus, most famously one in which we had a student react poorly to a display and thus we got a response. This bulletin board which is our most frequent source of blog material is from a stairwell in my office building which is traveled by many students and faculty during the day.
The latest incarnation, above, is a series of messages exhorting us to be "building an antiracist SCSU together" along with a series of small notes in pen. Gone is the art; only slogans remain. Here are a few:
This one in the upper left -- "Cooperate, DON'T Compete" -- caught my eye, and I discussed it in class. One of the lessons economics teaches is that cooperation is the result of competition. When sellers compete with other sellers (not buyers) the result is that people who want the good get it at a lower price, delivered to their door, fresh. "It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest," Adam Smith wrote. It is utterly remarkable how economically illiterate that comment was. I need to figure out how to do a Wordle of this board. The two most common words (says he with only casual empiricism in this, so feel free to verify) are love and hate. Hate is something we need to stop, love is something we need to start. At which point I ask: To what extent is this love and hate something that an institution of higher education is able to provide? I have no evidence that this is something we do well. We can create a love of learning, or a hate of falseness, perhaps ... but these are not the types of things we do well, and certainly not recently. The curriculum provided here fits not even that envisioned by Peter Wood as "have it your way": No, we say you will have it our way, a way we call "anti-racist" without an examination of whether or not racism exists. After all, an "appreciation" of "institutional racism" is considered by US to be our highest priority. So we will pass on a "legacy of love" and not a legacy of knowledge. That's what's more important here. It takes "all Colors" to make our world, without understanding the utter poverty of that world 400 years ago. Was this in a dorm, on a student's door, I'd smile and think this is a very nice student. As the goal of education, in a classroom building, I worry about what kinds of students we are creating.

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