University Education for the Young and the Unworldly

Submitted by Charles Knighton
“One reason universities are able to indoctrinate students is that students enter college young and unworldly.”

One reason universities are able to indoctrinate students is that students enter college young and unworldly.”

Each child who goes to a secondary school should do at least one year of national service… thus making a contribution to national development as well as becoming familiar with the world that they now only encounter way too late—the world of work.” Orlando Marville, Education cuts –  March 12 Advocate

While Mr. Marville’s article contains much to commend itself to the educational establishment of Barbados, I was most taken by his suggestion of the need for students to become acquainted with the practical workings of the real world before being indoctrinated by the progressive academic theories so prevalent in today’s universities. One reason universities are able to indoctrinate students is that students enter college young and unworldly.

Someone with life experience is far more likely than a kid just out of high school to understand that the best formula for avoiding many of life’s pitfalls is personal responsibility—get a job, get married, and then have children—not government help.

Teenagers who spend a year or two before going to college working—in a restaurant, at an office, or in national service—will mature far more than they would after a similar amount of time at college. And maturity is an inoculation against leftism.

For those who may feel that I overestimate the pernicious influence of the progressive agenda promulgated by today’s universities, consider the fate of the once uplifting study of the humanities. To major in English at a fine university, you’d think you’d need to know something of Chaucer, Shakespeare and Milton. Evidently, not any more. After revolts by young, progressive faculty members at many universities requirements that majors study the works of these dead white males have been dumped in favor of courses in Gender, Race, Ethnicity, and Disability and Sexuality Studies.

This has now become a widespread trend in the study of the humanities: an obsession with victimhood, and a relentless determination to reduce the stunning complexity of the past to the shallow categories of identity and class politics. A humanities education once gave students a tour through the finest knowledge, philosophical thought, and artistry of Western civilization. But many postmodern academics and students view all that as a dated legacy of the “Empire.” So the humanities are now the study of oppression in all its forms—of women, of people of color, of people of different sexual orientations. Plato? Shakespeare? Mozart? Just three more oppressive white males. No wonder interest in the humanities is in steep decline.

25 thoughts on “University Education for the Young and the Unworldly

  1. Interest in the humanities is on the decline as a result of its loss of relevance in an increasingly technocentric environment. Your “White males” were brilliant, in their time, but would be at a complete loss with their skills and promise in todays world.

    Thank you BTW, for keeping it short.

  2. Ha ha ha David,

    Unless Barbados is on a different trajectory to the rest of the world! I was forced fed Chaucer at school… and for what ..? Shakespeare and many others of his day were brilliant and are timeless, for the purest, but a complete bore to the ordinary school boy like myself.

    As an addendum the science of language (nouns, pronouns, adjectives etc.) is not something that should be taught to developing adolescent brains … practice and more practice at speaking the international language of trade should be all that is required. Primary and secondary schools should be zero-dialect environments.

  3. Baf………i have been saying that for years, most so called psychologists don’t understand that people actually think the way they speak, you speak dialect you think in dialect.

    • Why can’t we do both Baffy with an incentive factored at the tertiary level? Humanities is about us why would we not include on the curriculum?

  4. Yes Well Well, keep it simple and stupid. Mastery of English is too important to the wellbeing of developing citizens to be made complicated with the scientific associations and the like. It should be spoon fed through continuous practice. Let the tertiary people take on the challenge of explaining away the placement and use of words and terms and so on, and the history of the blasted medium. UWI had a universal program called Use of English, and that is fine, but by the time the students are received by the University they would already be competent in the “spoken” word.

    David the study of humanities to my mind is NOT an Essential, but given the affordable nature of being a “chalk and talk” teaching exercise, I fully understand why the University has so embraced the disciplines as a means to earning a First Degree.

  5. A valued education goes far beyond the acquisition and the recapitulation of fact, is must challenge the student to think critically, as well as to challenge the conventional thinking as well. We have to teach the student how to think and not what to think. When students begin asking questions about what they are learning, they are beginning to develop those critical thinking skills. And these critical thinking skills, constitutes an integral part of a valued education, or else you’ll end up like Georgie Porgie.

  6. baffy
    use of english was fun
    one day allsop was pontificating on the fact that the suffix “ling” meant “little”, and he soke of goslings and all types of lings, until one lad at the back of the class asked him “Sir What is a “dar”.

    to the jackass who wrote..A valued education goes far beyond the acquisition and the recapitulation of fact, is must challenge the student to think critically, as well as to challenge the conventional thinking as well.





  7. Georgie Porgie

    The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn. Porgie, beyond the acquisition and recapitulation of information, contemporary education also focuses on: critical- thinking, creative- thinking and practical- thinking.

    contemporary education also focuses on: critical- thinking, creative- thinking and practical- thinking.


  9. Georgie Porgie

    Allow me to address this last concern before David chastise me for taken too much liberty, as well as for eroding the social niceties extended to those of us who circumnavigates this blog.

    But if the only tool you have is a hammer, to tend to see every problem as a nail. Abraham Maslow





  11. Porgie, it would be interesting to hear your views on the impact of hypertension on the kidneys, hearts, and eyes? And can untreated hypertension cause left ventricle hypertrophy? Or can it cause non instructive cardiomyopthy ?

  12. LOL what the hell is in a name?
    A rose called by another remains the same..
    Be it obzonky, dick or Dompey
    Through it all we can see Mark Fenty…

  13. The research and treatment of prostate cancer in men with a PSA elevated beyond 5 looks promising. But there are many treatments out there but for black men what would you recommend? A complete removal of the prostate with cause some erectal dysfunction because of the nerve damage after surgery. Or radiation therapy: where the radiation is inserted directly into the prostate that is if the cancer has spread outside of the prostate.

  14. Donkey… aka Obzocky aka Mark Panty please go back to your stable if you have one or go and tie yourself under a tree.

  15. Islandgal

    It is funny how you made mentioned of horse and stable in your above statement because ironically, I used to work with horses as a teenager growing up in Barbados. ( oh how I missed those days) I assisted with the training of the wild horses when their came from United States, Canada and England. But I spent most of my time working with the blacksmith who taught me: how to make a horse shoe from a piece of steel. We would take a piece of steel and put it into the furnace until it was red hot; shaped it on the anvil to fit the particular size of the horse’s foot; punched about ten small nail size holes into the shoe and apply the mordax at both ends of shoe to prevented the horse from sliding.

  16. Those who seek to reform the education system must first accept that the educational gas chamber also known as the Common Entrance Examination has to be scrapped and replaced by a progressive form of continuous assessment , in order for there to be a radical cleansing of the system. We have people in our society , who are in the vanguard of protecting an education system that has been irrelevant since the late 60’s. Many unsuspecting parents do not know or are unaware that their child will never pass the Eleven Plus(Common Entrance) and really have no chance of so doing. In many ways the exam is fraudulent in that many students who actually fail it are deemed to have passed and go on to secondary schools totally unprepared for that level. Hence, we have thousands of children and the future of our country falling through the cracks from around age 12 ! It is a travesty of sickening proportions.It makes no sense talking about restructuring the economy while ignoring that the system is really deteriorating by the second. We just spinning top in mud.

  17. @ Islandgirl246

    I don’t think Dompey is Mark Fenty, I may be wrong but Dompey is too polished and responds to the lumen of thought and does not ramble.

    Take a look at this remark he posts ” The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.”

    That is a stellar submission that speaks to the core of this issue at caption, and unless Mark Fenty is now grafting eclectically from a blog site that is commenting on this subject the style and content cannot be MF.

    Look at how he finishes the comment “beyond the acquisition and recapitulation of information, contemporary education also focuses on: critical- thinking, creative- thinking and practical- thinking.” That is not a Fenty construct but David [BU] would have to tell me otherwise

    BTW I believe that he is slightly off when he speaks to contemporary education also focusing on critical, creative and practical thinking, not in Barbados it does not.

    BIM’s education is REGURGITATION CENTRAL and it is for this reason we have so many “bright people but not of them are shining” our educations system at all levels is geared to produce passes based on recall of engrams but not on creativity or extrapolative thought.

  18. Piece … I would have to agree with you on Dompy. I read all of his comments to the end and that would not have happened had there been the slightest hint of Fenty being present

  19. Skins .. come on man. If by now you do not realize that Barbadians are meant to function only as a market, thoughtless consumers of imported standards, goods and services, you are the one that is needing of attention


    An overview of Swedish education DECLINE
    KI researcher: ‘Kick out politicians who give students hazardous e-readers with unproven educational value
    Thanks to the so-called PISA* (OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment) survey, in Sweden we now know: student scores in maths, reading comprehension and natural sciences are plummeting. The results are prompting rage in Swedish schools. Something is wrong.
    The government response is to force all students to go through another school year. In addition, a series of panic measures has been initiated by the authorities. But do not expect schools to be given peace and quiet, so that they may be able to figure out how to get things to work while dismantling those gadgets and administrative ‘reins’ that do not.
    For years schools have undergone a multitude of changes and been given new assignments, including being forced to monitor more grade control data and using new and more administration. Some changes are good, some bad. Changes include an enormous amount of computerized teaching where students via their apps, mobile phones and tablets are supposed to gain new knowledge. Pedagogy innovators have deleted textbooks and pencils, blackboards and pointers, and instead replaced them with new wireless e-readers and cell phones. Academics, such as myself, have many times – usually completely unheard – raised a warning finger to the educational establishment.
    Today it is very difficult to be a teacher and take responsibility for teaching in the classroom where students’ cell phones are constantly ringing, text messages are being sent back and forth, and surfing the entire time online or playing games through iPhones and iPads. All this when students really should be working on their school assignments.
    In Sweden, there have been several cases where the teacher was reprimanded because he or she “violated the students’ privacy” after taking cell phones from students, while other teachers have been criticized for being too strict with students for not allowing them to do what they want during school hours.
    Assoc. Professor and Asst., Professor in Neuroscience,
    Karolinska Institute, Stockholm.
    Photo: Ida Nordlander
    In Sweden – which has one of the most highly computerized educational systems in the world – results have plummeted regarding reading, writing and math skills. Today the system can not afford to hire enough staff, no, and it has even been suggested that “tired of school” students will not be asked to finalize 2/3 of their secondary education. So the new tools do not impress – it just seems like we should be spending money on well-trained teachers with old teaching materials.
    Simultaneously there is a tendency for students in alternative schools such as Waldorf, Montessori and Reggio Emilia, to do slightly better and mature mentally faster; and it’s very interesting because these schools do not use computers to the same degree as mainstream schools.
    These new wireless devices are now flooding schools and homes. Examples of such sources of microwave radiation are wireless routers, computers with wireless network cards, wireless landline phones, tablets (like the iPad), mobile phones, etc.
    Several years ago evidence surfaced that exposure from electromagnetic fields can cause serious biological effects and health effects. Against this backdrop, many like myself protested, including parents, teachers and school staff in Köping as seen in Bärgslagsbladet (April 18) in 2012 under the headline “No to wireless at school”.
    Children are probably sensitive to pulsed microwave radiation from iPads and routers
    There are now numerous scientific studies that children are likely to be more vulnerable to pulsed microwave radiation than adults. New research shows, among other serious effects on behavior and learning ability, that there is general agreement among scientists that electromagnetic fields penetrate further into the brains of children than in adults because the skulls of children are thinner. There is also a broad consensus that children are more vulnerable to adverse effects from radiation because their bodies are developing, thus, by definition, more sensitive to environmental toxins. Children are not “little adults”!
    The Council of Europe’s Environment Committee has called for strong measures to protect the public against mobile phone radiation
    The World Health Organization in 2011 classified electromagnetic fields from wireless sources as possible carcinogens.
    In its Resolution No. 1815 from May 2011 the Council of Europe’s Environment Committee recommended strong measures to protect the public against harmful effects of wireless radiation, including a ban on mobile phones and wireless internet in schools. It also wants to reduce the recommended maximal exposure level of mobile telephony sharply, all this completely in agreement with the Seletun declaration of 2010. In it, an international group of scientists urge a stop to further expansion of wireless systems and require new guideline limits.
    In February 2010 The Seletun Scientific Panel published a resolution with a wide range of common positions and recommendations, based on a review of the then-available research on the health effects of electromagnetic fields. Since then there have been many more reports …
    The Swedish Radiation Safety Authority (SSM) misleads
    Sometimes you see in the debate that someone – usually from a radiation safety organization – claims there is no danger and that “the radiation is so weak”. Weak compared to what?, I wonder. Today there are children in radiation levels that could easily be 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 times higher than our natural background radiation. So how can the phrase “so weak” be justified?
    A child using a laptop to download from a wireless Internet connection is exposed to the same amount of radiation (about 1,000 μW/m2 and above) as if he/she were near a cellular base station (50-100 meters away). There are many parents who are not aware of this. The figures are not plucked from the air, but taken from readings in schools in Oslo by the Norwegian Post and Telecommunications Agency. Whether it’s about base stations, wireless or cell phones, it is the same type of radiation we are talking about (in the range of 1-2.5 GHz).
    Autism and ADHD-like behaviors
    A group of researchers in California recently conducted a large study of mobile phone use in pregnant women. They looked at all the kids who were born in Denmark in a given year and interviewed the mothers about their mobile phone use during pregnancy. They also asked about the child’s mobile usage and behavior.
    To the researchers’ surprise, it turned out that the mothers who had used mobile phones the most during pregnancy had the greatest risk of having children with behavioral difficulties.
    It was about both autism and ADHD-like behaviors. The increase in risk was statistically significant. The risk also increased further if the child himself used a cell phone. [ Divan HA, Kheifets L, Obel C, Olsen J (2008) “Prenatal and postnatal exposure to cell phone use and behavioral problems in children”, Epidemiology 2008; 19: 523-529 ]
    Symptoms: headache, abnormal fatigue and irritation
    Such a study might not be sufficient to conclude that electromagnetic fields are dangerous to children. German researchers wanted to measure the radiation dose that children and adolescents are exposed to in daily life. They asked about 3,000 children and young people in Bavaria to walk around carrying a dosimeter from morning to night. The dosimeters measured the radiation from cell phones, base stations and wireless networks. It turned out that the quarter of the children who were most exposed to radiation had more concentration problems at night than the rest of the kids. The same group also had more headaches and were more irritated than other young people.
    The results of the Bavarian study were again statistically significant. [ Heinrich S, Thomas S, Heumann C, von Kries R, Radon K (2010) “Association between exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields were assessed by dosimetry and acute symptoms in children and adolescents: a population-based cross-sectional study,” Environmental Health 2010, 9:75-83 ]
    So the question is what mechanism can explain these symptoms in children and adolescents. Scientists Buchner & Eger in Germany measured levels of stress hormones in 60 residents in an area before a base station was erected. They were measured again after six months and again after one and a half years after the antenna became operational.
    It turned out that people had much higher levels of the stress hormones adrenaline and noradrenaline six months after the base station became operational, and after another year, the situation had not improved. Living with such constant stress to the body is obviously harmful to health.
    [ Buchner K, Eger H, “Veränderung klinisch bedeutsamer Neurotransmitter unter dem Einfluss modulierter hochfrequenter Felder – Eine Langzeiterhebung unter lebensnahen Bedingungen”, Umwelt – Medizin -Gesellschaft 2011: 24 : 44-57. ]
    Do not think this is just about the kids. Even fetuses are affected significantly and in a particularly scary way. Scientists Jing, et al., of the Department of Public Health, Shandong University, China, have studied the impact of mobile phone radiation on pregnant rat fetuses. The researchers measured changes in both neuronal neurotransmitters and effects on antioxidant enzymes which protect our cells from oxidative stress.
    They conclude that mobile phone radiation during pregnancy resulted in damage to the fetal brains! They were born already brain-damaged. What mothers and fathers want that for their children? (Jing J, Yuhua Z, Xiao- Qian Y, Rongping J, Dong- Mei G, Xi C, “The influence of microwave radiation from cellular phone on fetal rat brains,” Electromag Biol Med 2012; 31:57-66.)
    Students and teachers more and more frequently report abnormal fatigue in their working environment and you can not dismiss current suspicions that exposure from wireless networks can play a role in this. It is therefore important to ensure that wireless networks in kindergartens and schools are not causing significant and unnecessary risks for the health of our children and their teachers. Academically, the subject is not very complicated but for a layman can seem difficult to assess. The lack of knowledge today is due exclusively to the lack of research resources, not a lack of ideas, hypotheses, theories or interest.
    The Precautionary Principle must be applied
    Based on the above information the organization Citizens’ Radiation Protection in Norway, , has urged parents to sign a formal agreement where a parent does not consent to the exposure of their children to microwave radiation from wireless communication technology either in the classroom or indoors in general. As a parent, you are encouraged to require that the school / preschool exercises precautions to minimize radiation exposure and to demand wired solutions for data networking and telephony indoors. You are also encouraged to demand answers on who is responsible for the child if damaged by radiation exposure. Time is not on our side. We must quickly decide how to proceed. In Sweden the choice seems to be having “artist types” running around in the community – wildly creative but totally impossible to put at the controls of an airplane or be responsible for the safety of a nuclear power plant. Alternatively should we have a population that is completely egalitarian, equipped with all the basics to work in our society? Will the next generation be capable at all of handling the different functions society requires? Do we want a society where we accept math, reading and writing difficulties that are solely due to the teaching handled by unauthorized personnel, through strange “apps” and in a computerized educational chaos?
    But our Education Minister Jan Björklund has instead appointed an advisory committee of international experts called “the school commission”. A new agency (an “educational research institute”) is to be established to investigate these issues. In addition, Björklund intends to create a Swedish Education Council. He also talks about various new investigations and new reforms.
    We do not need more research!
    The only thing needed is a competent staff with good pay who can work in peace without being threatened, harassed or violated. Their work with students shall be in accordance with traditional effective educational models, with proven pedagogical aids, peace and quiet in class, concentration, joy, enthusiasm, teaching instead of gaming and mobile browsing, information tailored to each individual’s ability, and demands on teachers and students in relation to future levels of responsibility. (However, during the public debate I have not heard or read anywhere that one should bet again on the school, the teachers, the educational content or the often poor school facilities and the salmonella-contaminated school lunches. But these are left unattended. Sounds like something out of a New Year’s fun cabaret, right?)
    Peter Kadhammar at the Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet notes in his excellent column from January 17, 2014, that” In the knowledge society, literacy skills have been lost”. As I have pointed out many times, this has happened in spite of (!) the vast amounts of electronic gadgets introduced and now used in our Swedish schools. All iPads, WiFi, “surf the web pages”, computer games, laptops, sending text messages during class, smart phones, etc., do not seem to have done their supposed job of teaching?
    Enough is enough. We need peace and quiet in the classroom. Put away the e-reader and mobile and kick out school politicians who want to spend money on unproven educational gadgets that are also probably merely health hazardous.
    Text: Olle Johansson, Associate Professor in Neuroscience, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm
    * The latest global PISA education ranking study released in December 2013 pushed Sweden below the OECD average in maths, reading comprehension, and natural sciences.

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