I haven’t visited Upworthy in awhile. I think I had it blocked on the old laptop. Or it just fell out of favor. Either way, I came across this article since someone shared it on FB. For those who don’t feel like reading it: It explains what microaggressions are, and then says the following three things fall into the category of microaggressions:
- Rules against hats and hoods
- Policing language
- Punishing students for sleeping in class
The thing that most immediately sticks out to me is in claiming these are racial microaggressions, race isn’t really mentioned. It mentions the culture of the white middle class, but it doesn’t say anything about what features of race are in play. For 1, I suppose it’s obvious enough. In the US at least, certain cultures affiliated with certain races have a greater affinity for hats and hoods.
The other two are not nearly so obvious. White kids swear a lot. Upworthy says “If the student was raised in an environment where swearing wasn’t viewed as a transgression, it can be difficult for them to find a way to communicate emotionally and intellectually in the classroom.” What racial environment is this? Perhaps I am mistaken here, but to my knowledge, there isn’t a race with a significantly greater tendency to swear and be unaware that swearing is frowned upon by some people.
The third made me pause and wonder if perhaps this article was written by a racist trying to discredit anti-racism. The proposed solution (let tired kids nap) is sane, though, so perhaps not. Again the question is left open: What’s the role of race here? There’s certainly a role class plays. Teachers who have spent their lives in the middle class might not understand not being able to get a night’s sleep. Is there an additional racial component I’m not aware of? (And why didn’t Upworthy bother to mention it?)
The solutions to all three of these are at least alright. People getting upset over hats and “fuck” are just being uselessly rigid in their thinking. There’s no argument for rules against either that don’t come down to the aesthetic preference of a certain group. (Perhaps there is some room for race. Is the intersection of middle/upper class and any non-white race more okay with hats and swearing?) And if a student indeed needs sleep, taking a nap is more useful than fading in and out through class.
This of course isn’t to say there aren’t real racial problems. Some of them do fit in the category of microaggressions. But these aren’t them. On the weighty end, police shootings disproportionately killing black people isn’t reducible to some other, non-racial thing. And the racial thing involved is a problem with the structure of society. (And some bad people.) On the less weighty end, skin products often coming overwhelmingly in shades of white with limited options for darker skin tones is again, not reducible to anything else. It’s just structurally embedded racially preferential behavior. These things, however, appear to reduce to other things. Mostly class and access to resources (which, again, class). One could make a case for 1. For 2 and 3, once you take away the class differences, you end up with saying the racially embodied culture is responsible. For 2, fine, I guess. White people on the whole might be behind there. (I’d be curious to see data.) For 3, if you abstract material resource access and find a problem within the racial domain, then you’re saying it’s a problem with the culture that the kids don’t get enough sleep. That’s exactly the nonsense the racist right peddles.
Text that is an image for no apparent reason besides being obnoxiously large on social media is one of my pet peeves. (And a fast track to my block list.)
Interesting two bits from Eschaton:
That there already was an armed cop means the people crying for there to be authorities with guns lurking in schools don’t really have a point here. Unless they want a bigger presence. I guess as long as we keep the prison model of primary and secondary schooling we may as well have armed thugs to really stay true to it. Though perhaps there’s some better alternative. (Of them, arming the teachers doesn’t sound awful. Teachers can be insane, too, but I’d guess the overall insanity level in the teacher population is lower than the student or security populations.)
As for Pittman, perhaps someone should inform him communists are almost all in favor of less gun control.
I’m guessing the growing awareness of sexual assault problems on college campuses needs no introduction. Nor does the zeal that is leading the charge. In recent news, a guy was accused of sexual misconduct, but he made a case for asymmetry in application of the rules and won. I am, at least at this initial stage without that much information, pleased to see this. The asymmetry in how men and women are treated is bad. To borrow the already well-used expression, many of the zealous are seeing women as sex objects and men as sex offenders. If that’s right, it’s bad for everyone. (Well, I suppose the nonbinary individuals might make it out alright, if anyone advancing this pernicious sort of zeal acknowledges them. I’m sadly doubtful.)
The clearest example of the asymmetry, for any nonbelievers, is the existing cases (and approval thereof) wherein a gal and a guy are both heavily intoxicated, they are both unable to consent, and somehow only the gal is wronged. To take that approach to the situation is to deny the gal her agency. And, if either was harmed, deny the guy his vulnerability.
This is of course not to say I think we should let up on the pursuit of preventing sexual assault and harassment. Of course both would ideally be eradicated. But the asymmetry changes the dynamic from aiming to fix the problem of sexually predatory behavior to the different problem of gender politics. Are there real asymmetries and structural injustices along gendered lines? Yes. But hijacking the campaign to get rid of sexually predatory behavior just makes both pursuits worse.
Popular Facebook page Occupy Democrats posts a video slamming the Trump tax scam. It begins with some stores closing. Second and third on the list are Sears and K-Mart. The problem is those two have been on the decline for years. The stores were closing either way. The new command of the businesses has been pretty transparent in his plan to gut them. To blame Trump or the tax law for this is just dishonest. Or stupid. Regardless, it places suspicion on everything else they say.
Were the other stores already going to close? Maybe. That the changes in taxes destroyed them seems a bit suspicious unless they were already dangerously near destruction. Perhaps they were. I’m not about to take that page’s word for it, though. I’m at least already to the left of them, so it doesn’t matter. The people somehow to the right of them may also know the well-known fact that Kmart and Sears are dying on their own. Their distrust will grow stronger. Worse, they may take OD’s dishonesty as a bad sign for anyone to the left of them.
The policies put forth by the GOP are awful enough in reality. Making things up is just stupid.
Olúfẹ́mi Táíwò wrote a great piece on how he’s a teacher, not a job trainer. I commonly complain about liberal arts institutions being co-opted as job training centers. Táíwò’s article takes the individual perspective, and gets a better personal angle on why this is bad. My usual argument is primarily that life has a lot of awesome stuff to it, and making money really isn’t that much of it. That “When will I use this?” is a common question asked about ethics classes shows how deep the problem is. We have more resources than ever being poured into higher education, but we’re getting rid of most of higher education.
Conveniently, Ben Orlin wrote about math’s role as a gatekeeper around the same time. Mathematics, an allegedly more practical field of study than any humanity, is abused as a gatekeeper. Mathematicians see beauty in math. I know many who would love to instill some enjoyment for mathematics into their students. Instead they have to teach requirements to a room full of people looking to take the test. Mathematicians by and large don’t seem fond of their role as gatekeepers. I’m not sure who does. At best playing gatekeeper is a means to dragging students into classes so administrators will agree to let the department have money.
One step out of the muck would be increased, mandatory privacy on grades, and perhaps courses taken. The gatekeeper function is much harder to fill when there’s no record to look at. Employers can’t bog down the education process with their exploitation of it as a filtering mechanism. (If they have too many applications to look at applicants as individuals, perhaps they’ll see some incentive to fix the broken job market.)
I’m not denying the importance of evaluation. Feedback is a critical part of the learning process. You have to know where you’re going wrong to fix it. Sometimes you need pointing in the right direction to improve. But these can be had without letting anyone outside the educational process aware of the feedback.
Unfortunately this idea falls among those that would require universal adoption all at once. If any small group of institutions did this at once, they would likely just be shunned. If they won’t play into the wishes of HR departments, then HR departments will shun their graduates. Then they’ll struggle to find any students. But, I retain three thoughts: One, there may still be something of use in this partial idea. Two, if UBI gets rolling, universities can exist without depending on high enrollment. Three, grade inflation is leading us down this road anyway. If everyone gets an A, nobody gets an A. If anyone can get a degree, the degree doesn’t signify much. At that point, all the degree says is one came up with tuition money one way or another. At that point, one should hope at least students get an education out of the deal.