Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Little Off-Topic...

... but I have to ask.

I read this today by a great American thinker named Victor Davis Hanson. He is a professor at Stanford. Here's what he had to say:

"The K-12 public education system is essentially wrecked. No longer can any professor expect an incoming college freshman to know what Okinawa, John Quincy Adams, Shiloh, the Parthenon, the Reformation, John Locke, the Second Amendment, or the Pythagorean Theorem is."

Do the current Columbia students and parents agree?

Moreover, can we continue to tolerate attacks on the intellectual abilities of our athletes when the so-called "smarter non-athletes" may not even know one or more of the above topics?



At Wed Nov 26, 10:56:00 PM GMT+7, Blogger cathar said...

As the parent of someone applying to Columbia this year, who's checked over her AP US and European History texts and found them somewhat wanting, I think it just comes down, in some degree, to parental involvement. And, perhaps, thus to linking what the kids are watching in the movies or on the tube to more detailed lessons. Thus, for example, my daughter learned after watching that wretched "Alexander" movie by Oliver Stone (a Yalie, I hasten to add) what the term " the Dochi" means, and how it has certain relevance too to the plot against Hitler that's to be covered in an upcoming Tom Cruise movie. (WWII in particular, in my experience, is an absolute bafflement to anyone under 35 as a rule; in Japan, college students supposedly are often never even taught that we waged war against that nation/)

Columbia students in general may lack specific knowledge of the topics Hanson mentions, however. I think that's a given and it shakes out that way because of the nature of what students "have to" learn by way of getting into a good, fairly selective college or university. And yes, I might then suspect that your "average" U of Tennessee or Clemson jock knows even less. The focus on athletics as a means of getting into college (and then as a path to a pro contract) seems to guarantee this. In high school as well as college, after all, athletes generally receive some coddling. What distinguishes the Ivy League and certain other schools is that this course of " treatment" doesn't play at all in our own halls. As everyone much knows.

To thus inveigh against "dumb" Ivy League jocks, however, is very foolish indeed. Although it's often the editorial drift of several (not all) student-run newspapers in the Ivy League, who don't usually seem to understand the complicated process via which athletic recruits are admitted to Ivy schools.

So I don't think this item is at all off-topic, Jake. But if you're hearing this kind of talk in the circles in which you move, it does not bode well.

Still, a Florida football player is a Rhodes Scholar this year, apparently even graduated in three years. He hardly sounds like a dumb jock and his success should be an inspiration to others.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and all the other readers of this site, too.

At Wed Nov 26, 11:06:00 PM GMT+7, Blogger Jake said...

Good points, Cathar.

Incidentally, I am ENORMOUSLY worried about this new Tom Cruise movie about the attempt on Hitler's life. I really worry that the would-be assassins will be portrayed as do-gooders, or enlightened people in some way. In truth, they were Nazis and just wanted to eliminate Hitler to hold on to the existing Nazi empire.

At Thu Nov 27, 12:13:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jake, I was meeting with a distinguished professor of economics, with impeccable credentials, who teaches at one of the very finest public universities. He told me that he is appalled by the academic quality of the supposedly robotic undergraduates who he is teaching. On the other hand, I am the parent of a fairly recent Columbia College graduate and believe that our college does pretty well in attracting highly motivated students. My only criticism is that this generation has been incapable of critical thinking and is all too often smothered by a PC academic environment in which there are certain eternal truths and certain "usual suspects".

At Thu Nov 27, 05:17:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

'My only criticism is that this generation has been incapable of critical thinking and is all too often smothered by a PC academic environment in which there are certain eternal truths and certain "usual suspects".'

"PC" has nothing to do with the generalized inability among most current high school students to think through a real question other than that presented in a multiple choice format. Stupid Educational Policy --- resulting for different reasons from a right and left wing alliance --- creates ill-educated lefties and righties.


At Thu Nov 27, 09:23:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a parent of a Columbia athlete, there are legitimate causes for concern. It makes me sick hearing the athlete bashing from those who may have 20+ hours more a week to devote to studying, because they are not involved in a sport. Because in general athletic competition at the D1 level continues to increase across the nation, and because the IVY league is a champion of maintaining a balance betweeen athletics and academics, and because there is no upfront financial incentive (athletic scholarships) unique pressures are foisted upon the Ivy schools, the athletes and their parents. This is compounded by the current economic woes, where most of us are seeing our precious college savings plans take a hit.
Perhaps AD Dianne Murphy said it best during an interview with Jake this year, when she said the upside of a Columbia degree is after graduation. These kids are special- able to balance rigorous academic schedules and a year- round commitment to their chosen sport. They deserve this recognition and support from alumni.

At Thu Nov 27, 09:34:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

speaking of supposedly intellectual non-athletes...

interesting story in the Yale Daily News about the suspension of the Yale band after (as to be expected) puerile behavior at the Y/H game.

Any chance that the same could happen for Columbia any time soon? (Or 7 of the 8 schools not named Cornell)

At Thu Nov 27, 11:02:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Note to parent -- We dedicated alumni apprecaite the sacrifices that your children and their parents are making in representing our great university. Many of us are putting our money -- along with our enthusiastic support -- where are mouths are. The bad mouthing of athletics on Ivy campuses comes from a vocal minority.


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