Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach. And those who can’t teach, get suspended or fined.
That’s what a Rutgers professor and two South Carolina colleges learned recently.
Professor and prominent anthropologist Robert Trivers told his class that he was looking forward to learning the material along with them, because he was unfamiliar with it, to earn his suspension. The two South Carolina colleges assigned books with homosexual themes, prompting the state legislature to withdraw tens of thousands of dollars of funding.
These are real things that happened!
Let’s start in beautiful New Jersey with Trivers. He was assigned to teach Rutgers’ “Human Aggression” class by the Department of Anthropology. Trivers is a Crafoord Prize winner, described as “the Nobel Prize for evolution” (described that way by Trivers), so the selection made sense, except for one problem: Trivers didn’t know about the subject.
That was the objection he made to his assignment, but the department stuck by their choice. He filed complaints to the university as well, but school officials did not meet with him about the matter. So Trivers turned to the only group left: the students.
In his first class, Trivers told the students he would do his best to learn the material along with them, and would teach with the help of a guest lecturer. He was then suspended for involving the students in the dispute. It’s like everyone always says, truth doesn’t pay.
Except Trivers was suspended with pay, so he wound up getting what he wanted all along. He doesn’t have to teach the class he feels unqualified for, and he still gets paid. The professor who taught the class last semester took over.
Everyone wins! Except Rutgers.
Meanwhile, controversy is ringing out down South Carolina way.
The state House budget writers voted to take away almost $70,000 from two state schools for their choice of assigned reading for incoming freshman.
The University of South Carolina Upstate lost $17,000 for assigning “Out Loud: The Best of Rainbow Radio,” about the state’s first gay and lesbian radio show. Meanwhile, the College of Charleston had $52,000 taken away for assigning “Fun Home,” a book about the author’s growing up with a closeted gay father and then coming out as a lesbian.
Representative Garry Smith led the charge to punish the schools, unironically giving this quote:
“I understand academic freedom, but this is not academic freedom. … This was about promoting one side with no academic debate involved.”
Thankfully, both schools have started looking at wider ranges of books to be part of the required reading, and instead of promoting one side, they’ll go back to promoting the right side, the side that has dominated discourse in this country for its entire history.
All of this really brings up one important question.
What schools assign reading for all incoming freshman?? Before they even take a class they have to read books? And everyone reads the same books no matter what they’re majoring in?
There are some other interesting theories that South Carolina institutions of higher learning operate under as well. There is a state law that all students must be taught the US Constitution and the Declaration of Independence for a full year. The law–which is nearly 100 years old–goes on to state that all students must pledge a loyalty oath to the United States.
While the state’s attorney general says the law is “constitutionally suspect and problematic,” the only truly problematic part is that schools haven’t been following this law.
It’s not just law students who should be studying it for a full year, as some have suggested. Even the art history majors need it, so they can understand that when they ask me for my name to write on the cup of coffee they’re making for me that they’re violating my 4th Amendment rights.
Thankfully, University of South Carolina junior political science major Jameson Broggi brought that lack of necessary and mandatory schooling to the state legislature, who questioned the school on why they weren’t following the law.
But no matter what questions we have about education in this country–and the question is rarely asked, is our children learning–we can always look to other countries to provide greater miscues, taking our mind off our own struggles.
So thank you, India, for featuring textbooks with glaring errors! Among the most egregious of the reported more than 120 factual, spelling, and grammatical errors:
- “Japan dropped a nuclear bomb on the US during World War II” when of course the opposite is true
- “Proportion of poisonous gas CO3 has increased due to cutting of trees” even though CO3 does not occur often at all in nature, trees or no trees
- “Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated on October 30, 1948” which I assume is untrue based on its inclusion in the article.
So while the United States might have questionable decision making in our educational institutions, we don’t just make up facts that we teach our kids.
Well, except for the schools that teach creationism.