Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Feminism in the Schools - David Solway

by David Solway

At every level of the education ecosystem, thanks in large measure to the viral influence of feminism, it is obvious that students are not being prepared for life in the real world of basic knowledge, work, and relationships.

In a devastating put-down of the "academic racket," Roger Kimball aptly quotes economist Herb Stein: what cannot go on forever won't. But forever is a long time, a commodity we are fast running out of. The question is, which will collapse first: a grand civilization or a dismal academy?

What we have learned to call "social justice," a movement that purports to correct all the supposed evils of Western capitalism and its so-called patriarchal underpinnings, has done seemingly irrevocable damage to the conduct of daily life; to the meritocratic basis of national success; and of course to the education establishment on which cultural, political, and economic flourishing is predicated. In particular, when the walls of education are breached, the decline of the nation is inevitable.

Among the most sinister influences in modern education is the feminist dogma, a major cornerstone of the "social justice" obsession, which has penetrated both K-12 and our universities via indoctrination and threat. Young boys in elementary and middle school are taught to distrust their masculinity, and young men at university are in constant jeopardy of summons and expulsion for approaching the fair sex. Even textbooks have been infected with the feminist bacillus. It may be instructive to look at a few cankered totems of the kind of thing I'm talking about. They are illustrations of a pervasive phenomenon in the world of education, from elementary school to graduate school – examples that attest to the nature and extent of our education cataclysm.

As a representative instance – there are a plethora to choose from – consider the Cambridge School's Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, billed as "an active approach to classroom Shakespeare." Under the heading "Sisterhood," we read that "Hermia stands up for herself as a lone female figure, surrounded by squabbling men." Under "Male dominance," we are instructed to "[g]o through the play so far, finding any images, similes and metaphors that imply male dominance – for example – 'your father should be as a god.' Read the images about males, then those about females, and say which you find acceptable and which you find offensive – and why." The major theme to be studied is "Gender and power." And we know where the power will come to rest: with the distaff sex, those who survive the depredations of squabbling men and the authority of despotic fathers.

Similarly, in the current climate of feminist hysteria, it comes as no surprise that, as PJ Media columnist Toni Airaksinen informs us, a new California-based Feminist Business School is launching a program "founded upon the theory of 'feminine entrepreneurship' and 'body-loving business practices' ... during which seasoned 'midwives' will teach women about the stages of giving 'birth' to a new business." Its formative nucleus, calling itself a Feminine Economics Department, is undertaking to oppose the "masculine economy," substituting values like intimacy, abundance consciousness, empathy, and gratitude for hated masculine features such as individualism, profit-worship, competition, and hierarchy. The aim is to create a testosterone-free economy and to foster a touchy-feely mode of communicative exchange, reminiscent of canadian minister of foreign affairs Chrystia Freeland's calamitous emoji-oriented negotiating style. One can imagine Canada's economic competitors salivating at the prospect.

Feminists are sure to embrace Andrew Hacker's dismissal of higher math and algebra from the curriculum, which he regards as an impediment to learning. As Hacker argues in a February 27, 2016 article in The New York Times, "[c]alculus and higher math have a place, of course, but it's not in most people's everyday lives. What citizens do need is to be comfortable reading graphs and charts and adept at calculating simple figures in their heads[.] ... Indeed, it often turns out that all those X's and Y's can inhibit becoming deft with everyday digits."

In The Math Myth, Hacker contends that current models of teaching math need to be supplanted by what he calls "adult arithmetic" or "numeracy." There can, after all, be "too much mathematics." One can readily see how feminists will clasp Hacker to their collective bosom. The point is to construct a more "inclusive," "comfortable," and easier to understand mathematical pedagogy, allowing most women to prosper without having to do the grueling application necessary to master (mistress?) a field associated with rigidly hierarchical masculine structures of mind. Hacker's The Math Myth will be a distinct favorite.

It comes as no surprise that Sara Hottinger, author of Inventing the Mathematician: Gender, Race, and Our Cultural Understanding of Mathematics, takes issue with a mysterious entity called "mathematical subjectivity," claiming that the ability to reason mathematically "is constructed within Western culture as masculine." Thus, "normative, white, masculine subjectivity" must be replaced by a purified female subjectivity and practice. Never mind if bridges fall, rockets plummet, budgets crumple, computers crash, and polynomials migrate to another planet. Arcadia is just around the bend. "In our culture," she continues, "femininity and mathematical talent are discursively incompatible. We simply cannot reconcile the cultural construction of femininity with the construction of mathematical subjectivity." As a result, she chose to "pursue a graduate degree in women's studies rather than in mathematics."

Her choice should be enough to disqualify her deposition. Of course, what is really needed is not less math, as Hacker says, or all this blather about mathematical subjectivity and cultural constructions, but a richer K-12 curriculum; better study habits; intellectual dedication; a penchant for hard work; and pedagogical hospitality for anyone who exhibits an aptitude for mathematics, whether a man or a woman. Men may have a somewhat larger standard deviation toward the higher end of mathematical ability, but that is no reason to dilute the curriculum. The work's the thing. Let the "gender" chips fall where they may.

But the farce continues. Examining the curriculum and practice at John F. Kennedy High School in the Cedar Rapids School District, Megan Fox warns: "If you send your kids to high school thinking they will learn how to diagram sentences and write competently, you may want to check their English requirements." Students will not learn any of these things. Instead, they will be exposed to a "social justice" syllabus focusing on, among other fashionable trends and absurdities, the dynamics of power and privilege, gender politics, gender-neutral pronouns, and the pressing need to eliminate masculine endings from words. "Since male endings are so pervasive," the school's Diversity Toolkit informs students regarding assignment preparation, "it is OK to invent new words by replacing the endings of existing words with something non-gendered."

The reward of desexualizing the vocabulary in order to diminish the status of men is presumably evident: this will enable "participants [to] incorporate more inclusive language in their daily speech and writing." Of course, for the most part, their daily speech is halting and cliché-ridden, and their writing is pretty well unintelligible. (I have seen enough student writing in my teaching career to give up in despair.) As Fox comments, "everyone is too busy vaunting perverse sexual pathology in the classroom" to recognize that there are grammatical rules and rhetorical protocols to be followed if students are to have the slightest chance of becoming literate.

At every level of the education ecosystem, then, thanks in large measure to the viral influence of feminism, it is obvious that students are not being prepared for life in the real world of basic knowledge, work, and relationship. Not only are cultural history, economic maturity, math and science, and functional literacy casualties of the curriculum, but their demolition is a harbinger of societal collapse. The only question, as suggested by Kimball and Stein, is whether or not it is too late to reverse the feminist-driven national decline.

David Solway


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