I entered graduate school to study English literature in the late 1980s, eventually receiving a Ph.D. in Ren-aissance literature, and have been a professional academic ever since. I have reached that point in life where I am sufficiently wizened — and sufficiently jaded — to be allowed the luxury of griping about how much tougher it was growing up for my generation. As a life-long teacher, I might also be granted indulgence if I grumble about how little my college students actually know compared to what I learned. And although there is as much justice as exaggeration in these observations, the thing that never ceases to amaze me is how morally stunted and ethically underdeveloped our students are, how utterly unable to make even obvious moral distinctions, and how completely uninterested in differentiating between virtue and vice.
The very concepts make them profoundly uneasy: Who says virtue is better than vice? Who am I to judge the rightness or wrongness of what someone else chooses? For these students, “tolerance” — that catch-all virtue into which all other virtues have been absorbed — means accepting without question all choices and modes of behavior. They are smart enough to realize that legitimizing the bad choices of others means that they are entitled to the same legitimization for their own bad choices as well, a system of mutually beneficial amorality in which the self-interested embrace of tolerance is enough not only to absolve their own sins, but also to confer upon them a kind of active virtue that grants immunity from the moral and spiritual consequences of their choices.
Homeschooling and the computer: a match made in heaven? In many ways, yes. Homeschoolers can access lessons from online sites to successfully complete their education goals, but with a couple of caveats.
First, the online lessons must be separate from public schools. Take the recent debate over a Herndon, Virginia-based provider of full-time public virtual schools called K12 Inc., with its various nationwide components, such as Virginia Virtual Academy, Florida Virtual School, and Massachusetts Virtual Academy. These are always incorporated into one of the states’ official public school districts. Thus, the twist on K12 Inc.: the word public, meaning tax-supported, and therefore subject to government oversight, with all the various “strings” and biases that go along with the federal government’s schools.
We have known for quite some time that there is a socialist political agenda behind the movement to do away with systematic phonics and replace it with Whole Language and other similar sight-reading programs. A sight method, like Whole Language, teaches children to read English as if it were Chinese, that is, composed of word-pictures like Chinese characters, rather than letters that stand for sounds. Children are taught a “sight vocabulary,” a list of words they are supposed to memorize by their shape or association with a picture. They do not learn the letter sounds or how to decipher words by analyzing their phonetic structure and breaking multisyllabic words into their syllables, which is the proper way to teach a child to read.
A flawless launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on November 26 has NASA’s latest mission to Mars safely on its nearly nine-month journey to the red planet. NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory, a rover that has also been given the name Curiosity, is the American space agency’s most advanced rover to date, and its mission is nothing less than to continue the search for life on Mars and prepare for future human exploration.
Although the speed and maneuverability of the two-ton Curiosity rover may not offer much when it comes to travel on Earth, its capacities in both those regards could transform the study of Mars. According to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s website, Curiosity promises to move across the surface of Mars at a speed vastly beyond the capacity of earlier probes:
Lynchburg, Virginia's Liberty University Chancellor Jerry Falwell, Jr. announced a change in policy that now allows students, staff, and visitors with concealed weapons permits to carry guns on campus. He commented that the new policy “adds to the security and safety of the campus and it’s a good thing. If something — God forbid — ever happened like what happened at Virginia Tech, there would be more than just our police officers who would be able to deal with it.” He added, "I think it’s consistent for a school, for a student body that’s strongly in favor of the Second Amendment … to have policies that are at least as lenient as a number of other universities."
Occupy Wall Street’s latest grievance centers on student loan programs and higher education reform, and the group’s most recent campaign involves a movement-wide boycott on student loan debt repayment. Early Monday afternoon, a crowd of faculty and student organizers assembled at the southeast corner of New York City's Zuccotti Park to announce Occupy Student Debt, a national initiative directed at recruiting student loan borrowers and requesting that they willfully default on their loan payments. The campaign consists of three pledges:
1. A refusal to make loan payments. This pledge will take effect after a million debtors have signed on to the campaign.
2. A faculty pledge of support for the "refusers."
3. A general, non-debtors' pledge of support for parents, the students and other public sympathizers.
"Since the first days of the Occupy movement, the agony of student debt has been a constant refrain," New York University professor Andrew Ross announced to a crowd of more than 100 people. "We’ve heard the harrowing personal testimony about the suffering and humiliation of people who believe their debts will be unpayable in their lifetime."
Roland Emmerich’s new film, Anonymous, tries very hard to persuade us that Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford, was the actual author of the works attributed to William Shakespeare. However, there are too many facts that make the Oxfordian thesis quite untenable. While I agree with Emmerich that Shakespeare did not write the plays and poems he is supposed to have written, we disagree on the identity of the person who did write the works we all admire. I believe they were written by Christopher Marlowe, the great poet-playwright who preceded Shakespeare. I wrote a book on the subject, The Marlowe-Shakespeare Connection.
Roland Emmerich’s long-awaited big-screen production of a movie based on the Shakespeare authorship controversy has turned out to be a great disappointment. While technically brilliant, Anonymous turns the Elizabethan era into a heathen, barbaric époque with none of the strong religious values characteristic of the time. Queen Elizabeth is not depicted as the Virgin Queen, but as a lascivious victim of double incest: with her son, Henry de Vere, and grandson, Henry Wriothesley, the Earl of Southamption, who, as the story goes, should have become Henry the Ninth. In short, the story is so historically grotesque as to make of the authorship controversy a gaseous bubble of ridiculous and obscene fantasy.
Back in 1962, Arthur Trace wrote a book entitled What Ivan Knows That Johnny Doesn’t. In that book Trace informed us that Ivan was being taught to read by phonics, and that was why Ivan was able to learn so much better than Johnny. In fact, throughout the communist world, children were taught to read by phonics so that they could read Marx and Lenin and become the engineers and scientists the state needed to enable it to create its socialist utopia and great military power.
When 70 students attending economics professor Greg Mankiw’s Economics 10 class on November 2nd walked out in protest, they wrote an open letter to him explaining why: "Today, we are walking out of your class…in order to express our discontent with the bias inherent in this introductory economics course…...