Christina Hoff Sommers and Camille Paglia on fixing a broken university curriculum | VIEWPOINT


Christina: Back in the 1990s, when we were
winning the argument, and we had the support of the media, there were all these great writers,
that took our side, pro free speech, and it was taken for granted, and people would make
fun of the courses. They would look at the MLA and there would be these silly courses
on, I don’t know…cross-dressing and medieval Valencia or autoeroticism in the early Jane
Austen. It was fun, and then the media got a little tired of it, and thought it had gone
away. It didn’t go away. It got much worse. And if you look at the curriculum now and
the courses that kids take…on Twitter there’s a Twitter called Peer Review and all he does
is report abstracts, show abstracts in journals. It’s so shocking, and it never ends, and you’d
think they’ve reached the ultimate of madness. Just to give an example and this isn’t the
worst, Feminist Glaciology. It’s a feminist study of glaciers. It draws on feminist post
Colonialism, and feminist political ecology. What are these fields? There’s a field, Feminist
Political Ecology. What do they read? It must just be slogans, and mixed with a little propaganda,
a little paranoia thrown in. One course after the other, so are they taking History of Western
Civilization? Are they learning about art? Do they know major historical figures? No,
but they could talk about these arcane, little propaganda, stick topics. Camille: Yes, the
core curriculum was abandoned as these new micro-fields came in. Women’s studies, African-American
studies and so on, and identity politics, they changed the curriculum in the 1970s,
and then all of a sudden the whole history of Western art, well, that’s classist, it’s
racist, so we have to abandon that. And so what you have now is a whole generation, in
fact two generations probably of graduate students who are incapable, actually of ever
teaching in a broad, narrative way, the old, wonderful survey courses. Christina: Right.
Camille: Now what I’m calling for is an attack on upon the curriculum, a reduction by 60%
of these elected, these silly electives to be thrown out, and a compulsory return to
teaching within these core ideas that are oriented toward ancient to modern. Because
another thing that, in addition to what you just mentioned, the fragmentation, is that
too many courses now are dated in the present, the present from after the Enlightenment or
even after the 19th century. So you have an imbalance in the curriculum, so that young
people have no sense of the ancient civilizations, and the way they rose and fell over time.
They have no idea of the world. They think that all the evils of the world are isolated
in Western culture. They have no idea about the atrocities, and the oppressions of empires
all over the world. So what we need to do I discovered in my students coming from a
broad range of preparations, now and then there’ll be private schools, but mostly they
come from good suburban schools or from bad inner city schools and they know absolutely
nothing about the chronology of human life. Hence, they look around them, and they see
things that are flaws in our current system, and they believe that these flaws can be fixed,
and that all other cultures in the history of the world were somehow a paradise on earth,
and we’re enjoying the most liberties, ever as women. Christina: These cultures and all
these students who are so hostile to the United States because it’s a capitalist, hetero,
patriarchal, oppressive, imperialist system, these sorts of terms are taken seriously.
Well, compared to what? What other country? We’re far from perfect, but we’re a struggling
democracy that’s done more to address racism, and classism, and sexism than any country
I’m aware of. But it’s almost as if they don’t know that. Camille: I know it. Christina:
They don’t know that we have experimented with systems that don’t have free markets
and they didn’t work out very well. These students don’t seem to know that. They don’t
know the history of Communism. Camille: Oh, they have no sense of economics or much less,
political theory. Christina: Economic illiteracy. And so they’re very confidently and they’ve
been taught in their classes, and what astonishes me is someone who as a professor of many years,
I always thought it was a sacred commandment, “Thou shalt teach both sides of the argument.”
So in any philosophy class, I would make sure whatever we were studying, I’d try to bring
the best that was thought and said on both sides. Well, in these classrooms, in many
classrooms and especially anthropology, sociology, not philosophy…philosophy is so far immune
to this, although it has other problems… Camille: Literature, throughout the humanities.
Christina: …literature, and then of course, gender studies, all the ethnic studies classes
it’s largely one point of view. They have their doctrinal feuds, but it’s the gamut
from A to B, they leave out all other perspectives. Conservatives aren’t there, heaven forbid,
libertarian perspectives, not there. Commonsense has no place, and so the students have this
sense that they’ve been exposed to what they take to be settled knowledge. It’s not settled.

21 thoughts on “Christina Hoff Sommers and Camille Paglia on fixing a broken university curriculum | VIEWPOINT”

  1. Hi all – This is part seven of a nine part series. Check the description for playlist links to the rest of the videos.

  2. Actually I recently ran into some gender studies students who knew some misinformation about Stonewall (they thought everyone involved in the riot were transgender) but knew nothing about the Mattachine, Magnus Hirschfeld and thought Oscar Wilde was a pedophile. They automatically dismiss any white gay men–despite the fact that most of these pioneers were white (and they were white) and they seemed to be ashamed that they are white gay men. It was weird.

  3. I mean I'd love to learn about crossdressing in medieval Valencia; just not as my major, and in an actual world history class. I love learning about history, culture, and languages, but focusing on something like women throughout history, transgender people throughout history, gays throughout history, etc just doesn't make a job.

  4. Thankfully it's not the /entire/ system; I'm part way through my bachelors degree in philosophy and the only thing I've heard about feminism (or anything related) at all was a single lecture in my ethics course, and that was a historical account of the different forms of feminism in the 20th century. There's still hope!

  5. based mom and based aunt dropping so much knowledge on us. We need to have a period of enlightenment of all the swj and regressive left mantra out of the academy, thus spreading like a cancer in to general population.

  6. 5:32 I'm not sure if that's the worst way to end the segment, or the best possible way ever. It's awkward nonetheless.

  7. I'm guessing Christina was confusing America with the West in general because it's not just the States that has adequately addressed racism and sexism

  8. I feel so ignorant listening to these ladies. Other than one philosophy course I took for fun as an undergrad, I've had nothing but math, science, and engineering since high school, and I only have one class to go in my PhD now. At times like these, I wonder what I missed.

  9. Have you heard of the feminist programming language?
    https://www.hastac.org/blogs/ari-schlesinger/2013/11/26/feminism-and-programming-languages

    http://www.frontpagemag.com/point/213211/are-you-ready-feminist-programming-language-daniel-greenfield

    http://therightstuff.biz/2013/12/14/the-hillarity-of-postmodernism-feminist-programming-languages/

  10. In my early 20s I left Australia (because I hated the politics and corruption) and went to live in Indonesia.

    I came back with a better appreciation of the western political system. It was a real eye-opener.

  11. Lets get some perspective here. Students of today are being maliciously brainwashed just like in other far left regimes. Anyone remember what the Maoist Chinese did? How come no one is pointing out examples like that to compare what is being done to American young people? This stuff is deadly serious and I'm not hearing the kind of arguments that I should be hearing for what is going on. Ladies, you need to up your game, this discussion is a lot more serious than a few quips.

  12. That twitter account 'peer review' closed, apparently due to pressure on the author who is an academic. Others have now reformed it under a slightly different name.
    If you want to push back against this kind of insanity, join a group. There are lots of good groups. I hope that mine is one "Feminism:What is it?" https://plus.google.com/communities/101210510523447493914

  13. I would love to hear Prof Paglia "riff" on the History of Art and Western Culture – and anyone who has IMHO is one lucky student!

    Prof Hoff-Sommers "5:15 "Run the Gamut from A-B"
    Hilarious!

  14. Bring back the education model of the 1970s and 1980s: where we teach technical skills, the real history, impartial philosophy classes, and skills that will be useful. No more gender studies.

  15. I LOVE the idea of throwing out the silly electives. My fear is that the faculty members who are currently teaching them would be utterly incompetent to teach authentically meaningful courses.

  16. Teach me Paglia! Teeeeeeach meee!!! Seriously, I would kill for that woman to become my personal mentor! And I'd gladly take Hoff Sommer's teachings as a minor besides it!

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