Wednesday, May 24, 2006

AFT - where the picture is funnier than the thousand words

That American Federation of Teachers publishes a stupid rag called "On Campus". This paper is not really web-savvy enough to put its pictures on its website, but if it was, this article about "academic freedom" and the proposal by David Horowitz to institute a campus bill of rights. The picture that accompanies the article in the print edition (which I'll scan one day if I get around to it) depicts Michael Berube holding a counter rally (apparently to a Republican rally) and press conference with about 14 students. 10 of the students are clearly depicted wearing identical T-shirts with the slogan:

Horowitz: We can think for ourselves! We don't need your outside agenda.

I wonder how many of them see the irony in 10 people standing behind a demogogue, sloganeering in concert, insisting that they all have the ability to think for themselves.

(This was also reported here and here, neither with pictures.

(I also figure that these rallies and counter rallies were planned at least a day or two in advance as they needed to groupthink the slogan, get and distribute them, and plan on wearing them and assembling. I note this because it is unlike what seems to be implied here suggesting that they somehow found a whole bunch of people to just protest Horowitz.

(And this is a side note to the girl (whose name is apparently Jamie) in the front with the ugly glasses with the offending T-shirt holding a sign that says "Socrates was dangerous too": I take it you never read any Plato.)

By the way, just for the record, I am well behind the sentiment that drives Horowitz, and I think it is the natural reaction to what the left does on college campuses. It is nothing short of horrifying and boderline intellectual student abuse. (whatever that is). . . . That being said, I am pretty sure I am against a bill of rights of this sort. I am really not comfortable with government drafting legislation telling people how to teach in college. I really don't want big brother there. But I really do want today's liberal educators to see what messages they are sending to the country. Let them sweat a little.


Shosh said...

I'm pretty sure the Academic Bill of Rights doesn't tell professors how to teach, I think its main thrust is university hiring based on merit alone and the Academic B of R would lay out what "merit" is. Never having published anything, ever, but being an outspoken communist should not get someone tenure. Also, discrimination in hiring based on political background-any political background-would be a no-no. There is no reverse discrimination in the A. B. of R., at least not as far as I can tell. I think academia is so abnormally out of touch with reality that this proposal is a welcome one. I once suggested in a philosophy class, after some extensive america bashing that had nothing to do with philosophy, that America was the freest country in the world. I was met with silence. The prof eyeballed me for awhile and said, "well, I'm not even going to humor that statement." And then changed the subject. (I believe you're familiar with this prof-I mentioned her once). In a government administration class I got in a 15 minute shout out and was called an anarchist and a fool for suggesting that there was no reason why law-abiding citizens should not have the right to own firearms. There are a lot of mental retards out there.

Shosh said...

oops, sorry that was such a long comment, what I meant to say was thanks for the links. :)

Shosh said...

My bad, on the students for academic freedom website, the academic bill of rights states the following principles:

1. All faculty shall be hired, fired, promoted and granted tenure on the basis of their competence and appropriate knowledge in the field of their expertise and, in the humanities, the social sciences, and the arts, with a view toward fostering a plurality of methodologies and perspectives. No faculty shall be hired or fired or denied promotion or tenure on the basis of his or her political or religious beliefs.

2. No faculty member will be excluded from tenure, search and hiring committees on the basis of their political or religious beliefs.

3. Students will be graded solely on the basis of their reasoned answers and appropriate knowledge of the subjects and disciplines they study, not on the basis of their political or religious beliefs.

4. Curricula and reading lists in the humanities and social sciences should reflect the uncertainty and unsettled character of all human knowledge in these areas by providing students with dissenting sources and viewpoints where appropriate. While teachers are and should be free to pursue their own findings and perspectives in presenting their views, they should consider and make their students aware of other viewpoints. Academic disciplines should welcome a diversity of approaches to unsettled questions.

5. Exposing students to the spectrum of significant scholarly viewpoints on the subjects examined in their courses is a major responsibility of faculty. Faculty will not use their courses for the purpose of political, ideological, religious or anti-religious indoctrination.

6. Selection of speakers, allocation of funds for speakers programs and other student activities will observe the principles of academic freedom and promote intellectual pluralism.

7. An environment conducive to the civil exchange of ideas being an essential component of a free university, the obstruction of invited campus speakers, destruction of campus literature or other effort to obstruct this exchange will not be tolerated.

8. Knowledge advances when individual scholars are left free to reach their own conclusions about which methods, facts, and theories have been validated by research. Academic institutions and professional societies formed to advance knowledge within an area of research, maintain the integrity of the research process, and organize the professional lives of related researchers serve as indispensable venues within which scholars circulate research findings and debate their interpretation. To perform these functions adequately, academic institutions and professional societies should maintain a posture of organizational neutrality with respect to the substantive disagreements that divide researchers on questions within, or outside, their fields of inquiry.

Hope it's ok to post them all here, Karl, just wanted to clarify that I was wrong :). It could be interpreted that they are trying to exert control over what is taught or how to teach, although I don't think so. It seems pretty open ended.

Anonymous said...

academic institutions and professional societies should maintain a posture of organizational neutrality with respect to the substantive disagreements that divide researchers on questions within, or outside, their fields of inquiry.

That pretty clearly infringes on the rights of professional organizations to take positions on matters within their fields -- in so many words, one might say.

But I'm curious what makes you describe Berube as a "demagogue." He seems pretty well on the mark when he says Horowitz has been lying about him and his work.

Oh, and I've read his blog occasionally. "Jamie" is his son, who has Down syndrome.