In high school a good friend once told me he thought I might have a future as a writer. I looked up to him because, having sneaked a peek at our counselor’s unattended record book, I noted that this buddy had a higher IQ than mine. And he was a nice guy. A year later I entered the University of California at Berkeley. Prior to enrolling, freshmen at UC were tested for competence in English. Those who passed took English 101, a standard requirement. Those who flunked had to take “Subject A,” a remedial course popularly known as “Bonehead English.” I passed. Approximately 40 to 50% didn’t. My first essay came back with a nice big “A” on the front. I was elated . . . and inflated. This course was going to be a breeze. Others might struggle with the language, but destiny had generously bestowed on me an enviable knack for coherent expression. Ah, such serendipity. My second essay came back with a big fat “F.” I was shaken. From whence had come this ignominious catastrophe? From my own hand? Surely not. It took quite a while to understand that freshmen really don’t have much expertise worth sharing with an adult audience. We were rather ignorant about the Great Conversations of Western Civilization. We were unacquainted with the Marketplace of Ideas in which the significant, profound conversations took place. Though ignorant, we still had to write essays, as if we actually had something to say. What I had done was fairly typical. I had set forth a bunch of “random notions” that happened to creep into my head. I deserved the “F.” Since then I’ve found the habit is not easy to break. I still battle it. In the above paragraph I’ve placed quote marks around “random notions” for a good reason. Professor of English R. V. Young, of North Carolina State University, makes some disturbing observations about current trends in teaching composition. First, students are deliberately kept ignorant of their intellectual heritage. “Classic works of literature, history, philosophy, and the like have been disdained, deconstructed, and dismissed from the composition curriculum.“ Culturally deprived, their “education” will never equip them to participate in the Marketplace of Ideas. They may never realize that it exists. They will hardly know Plato from Elmer Fudd – unless they take great initiative in educating themselves. Secondly, because they have to write something they do what I did. “Students . . . immersed in a . . . culture of unprecedented depravity . . . [are] invited to proffer any random notions that creep into their heads as “critical” insights. . . .” Contemporary teachers not only reward these mumblings. They actually require them. Dr. Young cites one professor who set up a website to discuss the pop group, NSYNC. The most urgent issue was whether the group especially attracted homosexuals. Much blather involved “homophobia” and the teacher’s insistence that students understand “the ways in which sexuality is constructed in language . . . .” The teacher deliberately imposed his personal biases and secular values on the unsuspecting students.
Tragically, their “critical” insights were jibberish. Read this and weep. (Insert [sic] wherever you like). Im some what confused. The fact that he likes NSYNC is fine I don’t think it’s that big a deal. . . . If he’s straight then why does he have to announce it. The same as if he was gay he would need not to say Gayfor NSYNC it just stirs up unneeded contraversy and here say, from my opinion. . . . Hes some what sterotyping . . . (My spell check just melted down). During the reconstruction of Jerusalem in the 5th century BC, the Israelites discovered that “Half of their children spoke the language of Ashdod [Philistine pagans] . . . and did not know how to speak the language of Judah [Biblical Hebrew].” Drastic measures were taken to reverse the situation. Parents MUST NOT subsidize an “education” that instills the philistine spirit and worldview of “Ashdod.” I especially encourage families to view and discuss “The Truth Project,” from Focus on the Family.
Along with that, “Heaven help us.”