Sunday, December 10, 2006

This Is Discourse?

So I was over there on Arts & Letters Daily, cruising around, as I do, because I teach the art of discourse, you might remember -- it's my profession, or anyway, part of my profession (seriously, I hardly know what my profession is, somedays -- what do you teach? I'm asked by my doctor or my dentist or the guy who sells me tires and my mind stutters: well, Chaucer, you know, and Victorian Literature, and History of the English Language and World Literature and, oh, yes, writing, that too) --

Anyway, I like Arts & Letters because OFTEN the essays on that site are good ones.

But John Derbyshire? What a tool.

Here's just a tiny excerpt from the bit of nonsense he published in the New English Review, from his essay on what is wrong with public schools in America:

"There is the public school racket, in which homeowners and taxpayers fork out stupendous sums of money to feed a socialistic extravaganza in which, when its employees can spare time from administration, “professional development” sabbaticals, and fund-raising for the Democratic Party, boys are pressed to act like girls, and dosed with calming drugs if they refuse so to act; girls are encouraged to act like boys by taking up advanced science, math, and strenuous sports, which few of them have any liking or aptitude for; and boys and girls alike are indoctrinated in the dubious dogmas of “diversity” and political correctness.

There is the teacher-unions racket , in which people who only work half the days of the year are awarded lifetime tenure and lush pensions on the public fisc, subject to dismissal for no offense less grave than serial arson or piracy on the high seas."

It goes on from there, getting only richer with cliche and lack of thought, every line ringing changes on right-wing talking points, showing not one bit of familiarity with the actual world of public schools -- or any actual school, or any actual teachers, or any actual children, for that matter. What he is obviously doing is pandering to his conservative audience -- those as ignorant of the actual school system as he is, either because they are elderly or because they are religious homeschoolers or because they are childless -- and from the comment section of the post, that is who he has, in fact, appealed to. (The few readers who have children in the public school system protest Derbyshire's ignorance and incorrectness in the comments, pointing out that no, teachers don't, in fact, work half days, that girls don't, in fact, hate science and math -- but the rest ignore these readers.)

Here's the web address -- my links are down, I'm afraid:

I was originally annoyed that Derbyshire got paid to write this swill -- but hey, so does Coulter get paid to write her filthy idiocy, and it's a free market, innit? What annoys me more, I've decided, is that people in America have been so ill-educated is that they can read this swill and say, yah, man, you right!

We deserve Bush, apparently.

Too bad.

Update: I feel obligated to add a discaimer -- my kid, as long-time readers know, is no longer in the public schools. We took her out after kindergarten. But this was not due to the quality of the school or the teachers. Her teacher was excellent, and the school was doing the best it could with the funding it had. No, we took her out because of the culture that surrounded her, especially then, three years ago, at the peak of Bush fever. We took her out because she was surrounded by parents driving their kids to schools in Hummers and five year old girls who wouldn't play with her unless she went to "Dance Team" lessons (where she dressed in a sparkly pink swim suit and high heels and learned to march while throwing a baton) and other five year olds who pestered her relentlessly about why she wasn't Saved and did she want to come to Sunday School or Bible Camp with them and those five-year-olds' parents who ambushed her in the lunch room to repeat the invitation and then her best friend who made fun of her unless she wore pink, every day, and kids on the playground astounded that she had never watched Halloween X, or whatever that mass murder movie is -- did I mention these were five year olds? -- and why didn't she have an XBox (or whatever the game was then) what was wrong with her? Didn't she know what cool was? Not to mention the barrage of sugar -- they lived on sugar and dye, those kids. And she wanted to, too.

Anyway. It was the classmates and their parents, not the school, that we mainly moved from; and also to get the smaller class size -- 44 students they had in her class at the public school. I still can't believe that. Her teacher was amazing, but even so.

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