Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Warning: Trigger Words

Yesterday I sat through the most ill prepared, presented and bizarre lesson on "social justice" the new buzz word curriculum that does not replace STEM and coding but is the new version of what comprises civics and humanities, I can assure you having sat through several versions of this there is little humanity that is part of it. Part of it is the lack of cohesive reading materials, lesson plans, speakers and clear cohesive intent and outcome that is what defines a unit and in turn lesson plan.

There is only one course that defines this concept - Courageous Conversations - and that led to a suspension and re-assignment of a teacher here who taught said curriculum and was the subject of a School Board meeting and in turn national press. He is back at his original school and I have no idea if he is still teaching that curriculum, I know he is writing a book and is passionate about the subject but I don't sub at the school anymore as I want nothing to do with the drama that surrounds him.

The other is that his school was recently "compelled" to take a Teacher who also taught the same type of subject and was a founder of another alternative school with the same focus but as I have never subbed there nor experienced the curriculum that these alternatives professed to teach I cannot comment. But as for the other two schools that professed to focus on the subject and issue of social justice I can say, no they never had any clear focus or course of study about that issue.

And once again the drama at these alt schools continue. One closed last year with distress and much hand wringing, then yesterday two more teachers at one of the locations were placed on administrative leave without explanation and I was at the one where another teacher quit over the holidays. So translation - it was a hot mess.

So as I watched this white 24 year old girl attempt to teach the subject with not so much as a clear plan, lesson or even a newspaper to generate discussion I tried to remain quiet. But at one point I did whip out my New York Times and try to generate my thoughts on the way we divide, segregate and implement equality and equity in our liberal haven. Some kids were amazing as they are but I could see this little girl had no idea how to moderate this discussion. My favorite part was when she was addressing the subject of lying and the phrase/term "white lie" and said it was a racist phrase. No, no it was not. To be a racist phrase it would have to apply and intend to demean or deny a race the parity of the issue. There is no phrase or term "black lies" to infer that lies that are "black" are bad while "white" lies means white people lie better. No this is the history of the term:

White lies is based on the ancient Western idea of polar opposites, represented in popular culture through white meaning good and black its evil antithesis. We have white magic, for example, beneficent magic that’s opposed to the malign black variety. The term white paternoster meant a prayer or charm recited to protect against evil at night (of which one version that survives is the old children’s rhyme “Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, Bless the bed that I lie on”). The opposite was a black paternoster, a spell recited to conjure up evil spirits or devils.

Along the same lines, a white lie is one that lacks evil intent, as opposed to a black lie, which is most certainly malevolent, though normally we don’t bother to specify that lies are evil. A white lie is harmless or trivial, frequently one said in order to avoid hurting someone’s feelings. The term is first found in the eighteenth century, when it suggested something slightly different:

A certain Lady of the highest Quality ... makes a judicious Distinction between a white Lie and a black Lie. A white Lie is That which is not intended to injure any Body in his Fortune, Interest, or Reputation but only to gratify a garrulous Disposition and the Itch of amusing People by telling Them wonderful Stories.

The Gentleman’s Magazine, 1741.

This is not the first time I have sat through a young white girl and her attempt at bonding with the students and giving them her "cred" by speaking in the patois of the students and giving incorrect facts or at least altering them to show allegiance.

These new prospective Teachers are the result of what is neoliberal education. That is not "liberal" as we have come to believe that Colleges and Universities are producing a bunch of sissy pants liberals that advocate free speech, sexuality of course government co-dependence. No these are kids who are conservative, easily offended and largely the progeny of Gen X, who for whatever reason feel compelled to complain about how their generation has been neglected and overlooked. Well they gave us the millennial who are now the largest population cohort so revenge is dish best served on a college tray.

And what they appear to be are largely offended, awkward about sex and race, largely fearful of bogeymen (not racist implied) addicted to technology (Steve Jobs thanks!),faux concerned about "issues" and as aspirational and covetous as the previous generations about wealth and social class. As my mother used to say, "you're different just like everyone else"

These campus protests while have some validity are utterly avoiding the real issues, such as lack of faces on color on campus, the rate of graduation and/or time to matriculate averages, student loan debt and what are the occupations and subsequent incomes of students, particularly those of color.

Well let's just burn that Huckleberry Finn it has the word "nigger" in it. Trigger warning I use words that offend. I also say fuck. I use the latter to insult people the former I use in speech when it is in writings that may offend, teach or just inform about how people spoke, the intent, the meaning and of course the historical perspective. The second I use it to apply to an individual as a slur, that makes me a racist. And for the record I don't. But I also listen to rap and it uses it too. Go figure. Burn that CD!

I think the below column by Catherine Rampell says the truth. Can't have that either anymore, it might upset someone.

Young fogies: Modern illiberalism is led by students

By Catherine Rampell Opinion writer
The WashingonPost November 30 at 8:53 PM

Trigger warning: If you’re easily disturbed by encroachments on free speech, you should probably stop reading now.

You’ve probably heard about “trigger warnings,” which alert readers or viewers that what lies ahead might be upsetting or offensive. Initially such warnings were intended to help protect sexual assault survivors from reliving their trauma.

But on college campuses, they have lately been demanded for all sorts of other displeasing material.

Among the traumatic topics to which students have objected to being exposed: spiders, “fatphobia,” indigenous artifacts, “images of childbirth,” being told their favorite artist was probably gay, suicide in a ballet, images of dead bodies, nude models in a drawing class, nude images in an art history class and bloody scenes in a horror film class.

Also, the Bible.

These are real subjects of student complaints, as reported by professors in a new survey released by the National Coalition Against Censorship.

About 800 members of the Modern Language Association and the College Art Association, two large scholarship organizations, participated in an opt-in online poll in the spring. While this wasn’t a scientific survey, it nonetheless was the first major attempt to look beyond isolated anecdotes and better gauge the scope and usage of trigger warnings, among other efforts to bowdlerize academic discourse.

The takeaway? Trigger warning mandates remain rare, but plenty of educators (and presumably students) already feel their chilling effects on speech. Eggshells, it seems, lie everywhere, strewn by conservatives and liberals alike.

And if current trends continue, we risk teaching a generation of citizens to care more about avoiding offense than preserving open dialogue, and to flee challenging ideas rather than to rebut or (heaven forbid) embrace them.

Fewer than 1 percent of survey respondents said their institutions had adopted policies on trigger warnings, but 7.5 percent said students at their institutions had initiated efforts to require them. Twice as many — 15 percent — reported that students in their own classes had requested trigger warnings. Likewise, 12 percent said their students had complained when they hadn’t been warned about distressing content.

A majority of educators (58 percent) said they’ve voluntarily provided some sort of warnings about course content, though the warnings may have been broadly worded and they didn’t necessarily allow students to opt out of course materials.
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Some professors said they thought trigger warnings had pedagogical value. But most expressed anxiety about how they affect academic freedom, and many reported feeling bullied into sanitizing their syllabuses.

Trigger warnings, one educator wrote, force “teachers to change their teaching plans based on calculations about what topics might hurt students’ feelings or make them feel ‘unsafe.’ ”

The report also addressed one common misperception about trigger warnings: that they’re always demanded by lefties.

While media coverage of campus political correctness crusades typically focuses on racial, ethnic and gender sensitivities, professors are getting pushback from conservative and evangelical students, too. (And within the population more broadly, I should note, liberals do not retain exclusive rights to illiberal tendencies.)

Conservative students have objected to classroom discussions of religious beliefs, as well as exposure to sexual or homosexual content. One educator said complaints about the moral propriety of nude models in a studio art class led administrators first to offer trigger warnings and ultimately to stop using nude models altogether.

In another high-profile example, religious students at Duke boycotted the assigned summer reading, “Fun Home,” because the graphic novel depicted nudity and homosexuality.

Such cases, by the way, jibe with other survey data showing that young people are supportive of stifling speech offensive to targets on both the left and right. A recent Pew Research Center survey found that 40 percent of millennials believe the government “should be able to prevent people from saying . . . statements that are offensive to minority groups.” A third of millennials also say the government should be able to prevent speech “offensive to your religion or beliefs.”

In both cases, young people were substantially more likely to express support for such speech limits than older respondents were. In fact, millennials were about four times as likely as their grandparents’ generation to support speech restrictions.

We don’t know whether these discrepancies are mostly driven by aging (maybe today’s 80-year-olds felt the same way in their own salad days) or by cohort (maybe there’s something unusually repressive about this generation of young people). Useful, comparable historical data are hard to come by. At least one survey suggests young people have probably become more allergic to free speech since the 1970s, and anecdotal evidence from professors supports this.

At the very least, our institutions of higher learning are increasingly becoming both victims of, and co-conspirators to, youthful illiberalism.

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