Shorter Degree

Via Insty I saw the redoubtable Joanne Jacobs’s take on this topic.  Back when I decided to go back to college, I was astonished to learn that a simple B.A. degree would take me four years to attain.  Four years?  Everywhere else in the world only requires three.

Then I studied the curriculum, and started to understand why the late Joseph Sobran lamented that in a single generation, our society had “progressed” from teaching Latin and Greek in high school to teaching remedial English at university — a.k.a. the “core curriculum” which required a full year to be wasted on shit like “how to write a sentence” (English 101), “how the U.S. and state governments work” (Pol Sci 001/002), “Math For Dummies” (Math 001), and so on.  Even a “trimmed” course load for this mandatory study looks dubious, as Jacobs notes:

[Greg] Poliakoff would require all students to take “expository writing, literature, a college-level mathematics course, a natural science course, an economics course, a survey in U.S. history or government, and three semesters of a foreign language.”

What a total waste of time, in my case at any rate.  Fortunately, there are ways to “test out” of various courses — for some reason, the fact that I had published three novels somehow persuaded the English Department that I wouldn’t need English 101, for instance — so I was able to reduce some of the bullshit course load, but still not enough to shorten the four years into three that way.

Next, I ran into the stupid restriction that only allows students to take on four courses per semester which, when I studied the course content, made it plain that I would be prevented from tackling five and even six, even though it was easily doable.  My pleas to the Arts Faculty to do so were rejected Because Rules — clearly, the rules are there to protect the Grease Pit Set and Snowflakes from actual hard work, whereas I could see at a glance that the content for all but the 4-level History courses was not only light but superficial.  (Without exception, my requests for a supplemental reading list for a course were met with a “you’re not from this planet” look from the various professors — one admitted to me that she had never received such a request from a student before.  At Wits University in Johannesburg back in the 1970s, every liberal arts course had a supplemental reading list which, while not officially required, was necessary if you wanted to actually pass the course.)

So I attacked the degree with ferocity, taking all the summer / winter vacation classes I could.  (Strange, isn’t it, that professors can teach a course in three weeks that takes a full semester otherwise?)

Anyway, with all that my B.A. still took me three and a half years*, simply because the course schedules often didn’t jell with my degree plan — the one course I needed for a French sub-major (Business French) wasn’t taught in any “summer-mester”, and clashed with a History class during the regular semester, so I ended up taking instead a useless class of English short stories (during which the professor admitted to me privately that I could have taught, let alone studied) and passing up on a French sub-major.

The cynic in me thinks that the overly-long undergraduate degree is driven simply by financial greed — one less year equals a loss of $30,000 in revenue per student — but I will concede that without the bullshit core curriculum, the failure / dropout rate would probably be much higher than it already is.  (And that, of course, is the fault of the high school education kids get these days, but don’t get me started.)

It’s a racket, pure and simple.

*summa cum laude (for my non-U.S. Readers, that means a 90%+ final grade for every course)

Welcome Back To The Working Classes

I’m happy to announce that New Wife, having passed all the stupid bureaucratic bullshit  federal requirements that enable her to work, has recently starting doing so at one of the local (and very new) private schools here in Plano.  She’s not teaching, however — “twenty years of that is enough” — and instead is doing the admin stuff as the school starts to open.

After running a boarding house at her alma mater  high school for eight years before I dragged her kicking and screaming across the Atlantic to marry me, she’s well qualified.  (Think:  no-nonsense attitude, kinda like mine.)

Details to follow, but please join me in wishing her well.


This was never sent, but it damn well should have been.

Oxford Rebukes Black Activists

The letter (below) is a response from Oxford University to black students attending as Rhodes Scholars who demand the university removes the statue of Oxford Benefactor, Cecil Rhodes.  Interestingly, Chris Patten (Lord Patten of Barnes), The Chancellor of Oxford University, was on the Today Programme on BBC Radio 4 on precisely the same topic.  The Daily Telegraph headline yesterday was “Oxford will not rewrite history”.

Lord Patten commented: “Education is not indoctrination. Our history is not a blank page on which we can write our own version of what it should have been according to our contemporary views and prejudice.”

Dear Scrotty Students,

Cecil Rhodes’s generous bequest has contributed greatly to the comfort and well being of many generations of Oxford students — a good many of them, dare we say it, better, brighter and more deserving than you.

This does not necessarily mean we approve of everything Rhodes did in his lifetime — but then we don’t have to.  Cecil Rhodes died over a century ago.  Autres temps, autres moeurs.  If you don’t understand what this means — and it would not remotely surprise us if that were the case — then we really think you should ask yourself the question:  “Why am I at Oxford?”

Oxford, let us remind you, is the world’s second oldest extant university.  Scholars have been studying here since at least the 11th century.  We’ve played a major part in the invention of Western civilisation, from the 12th century intellectual renaissance through the Enlightenment and beyond.  Our alumni include William of Ockham, Roger Bacon, William Tyndale, John Donne, Sir Walter Raleigh, Erasmus, Sir Christopher Wren, William Penn, Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA), Samuel Johnson, Robert Hooke, William Morris, Oscar Wilde, Emily Davison, Cardinal Newman, Julie Cocks.  We’re a big deal.  And most of the people privileged to come and study here are conscious of what a big deal we are.  Oxford is their alma mater — their dear mother — and they respect and revere her accordingly.

And what were your ancestors doing in that period?  Living in mud huts, mainly.  Sure, we’ll concede you the short-lived Southern African civilisation of Great Zimbabwe.  But let’s be brutally honest here.  The contribution of the Bantu tribes to modern civilisation has been as near as damn it to zilch.

You’ll probably say that’s “racist”.  But it’s what we here at Oxford prefer to call “true.”  Perhaps the rules are different at other universities.  In fact, we know things are different at other universities.  We’ve watched with horror at what has been happening across the pond from the University of Missouri to the University of Virginia and even to revered institutions like Harvard and Yale:  the “safe spaces”;  the black lives matter;  the creeping cultural relativism;  the stifling political correctness;  what Allan Bloom rightly called “the closing of the American mind”.  At Oxford however, we will always prefer facts and free, open debate to petty grievance-mongering, identity politics and empty sloganeering.  The day we cease to do so is the day we lose the right to call ourselves the world’s greatest university.

Of course, you are perfectly within your rights to squander your time at Oxford on silly, vexatious, single-issue political campaigns.  (Though it does make us wonder how stringent the vetting procedure is these days for Rhodes scholarships and even more so, for Mandela Rhodes scholarships).  We are well used to seeing undergraduates — or, in your case, postgraduates — making idiots of themselves.  Just don’t expect us to indulge your idiocy, let alone genuflect before it.  You may be black — “BME” as the grisly modern terminology has it — but we are colour blind.  We have been educating gifted undergraduates from our former colonies, our Empire, our Commonwealth and beyond for many generations.  We do not discriminate over sex, race, colour or creed.  We do, however, discriminate according to intellect.

That means, inter alia, that when our undergrads or postgrads come up with fatuous ideas, we don’t pat them on the back, give them a red rosette and say:  “Ooh, you’re black and you come from South Africa.  What a clever chap you are!”  No.  We prefer to see the quality of those ideas tested in the crucible of public debate.  That’s another key part of the Oxford intellectual tradition, you see:  you can argue any damn thing you like but you need to be able to justify it with facts and logic — otherwise your idea is worthless.

This ludicrous notion you have that a bronze statue of Cecil Rhodes should be removed from Oriel College because it’s symbolic of “institutional racism” and “white slavery”.  Well even if it is — which we dispute — so bloody what?  Any undergraduate so feeble-minded that they can’t pass a bronze statue without having their “safe space” violated really does not deserve to be here.  And besides, if we were to remove Rhodes’s statue on the premise that his life wasn’t blemish-free, where would we stop?  As one of our alumni Dan Hannan has pointed out, Oriel’s other benefactors include two kings so awful — Edward II and Charles I — that their subjects had them killed.  The college opposite — Christ Church — was built by a murderous, thieving bully who bumped off two of his wives.  Thomas Jefferson kept slaves:  does that invalidate the US Constitution?  Winston Churchill had unenlightened views about Muslims and India:  was he then the wrong man to lead Britain in the war?

Actually, we’ll go further than that.  Your Rhodes Must Fall campaign is not merely fatuous but ugly, vandalistic and dangerous.  We agree with Oxford historian RW Johnson that what you are trying to do here is no different from what ISIS and the Al-Qaeda have been doing to artefacts in places like Mali and Syria.  You are murdering history.

And who are you, anyway, to be lecturing Oxford University on how it should order its affairs? Your “rhodesmustfall” campaign, we understand, originates in South Africa and was initiated by a black activist who told one of his lecturers “whites have to be killed”.  One of you — Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh — is the privileged son of a rich politician and a member of a party whose slogan is “Kill the Boer; Kill the Farmer”;  another of you, Ntokozo Qwabe, who is only in Oxford as a beneficiary of a Rhodes scholarship, has boasted about the need for “socially conscious black students” to “dominate white universities, and do so ruthlessly and decisively!”

Great.  That’s just what Oxford University needs.  Some cultural enrichment from the land of Winnie Mandela, burning tyre necklaces, an AIDS epidemic almost entirely the result of government indifference and ignorance, one of the world’s highest per capita murder rates, institutionalised corruption, tribal politics, anti-white racism and a collapsing economy.  Please name which of the above items you think will enhance the lives of the 22,000 students studying here at Oxford.

And then please explain what it is that makes your attention grabbing campaign to remove a listed statue from an Oxford college more urgent, more deserving than the desire of probably at least 20,000 of those 22,000 students to enjoy their time here unencumbered by the irritation of spoilt, ungrateful little tossers on scholarships they clearly don’t merit using racial politics and cheap guilt-tripping to ruin the life and fabric of our beloved university.

Understand us and understand this clearly:  you have everything to learn from us;  we have nothing to learn from you.


Oriel College, Oxford

Like I said:  it should have been sent.  But because Oxford is now staffed by a bunch of timorous cowards and/or people who actually believe that these ingrates have a point, I can pretty much guarantee that it wasn’t even written by a current member of the faculty.  If it was, I can absolutely guarantee that the heroic scribe would now be looking for employment elsewhere, and not finding any.

Sic semper infirmissima cum turba iratus est.  I think the faculty will understand this — and they’d better, because their antagonists understand it only too well.

Welcome Change

If this happens as a result of the Chinkvirus lockdown, at  least ONE good thing will have come out of it:

A new poll was released by RealClear Opinion Research the other day, indicating that the complaints we’ve been hearing about online schooling may not be as prevalent as we thought. When asked if they were “more or less likely to enroll your son or daughter in a homeschool, neighborhood homeschool co-op, or virtual school once the lockdowns are over,” 41 percent of parents said they were more likely. Only 31 percent were less likely to do so. That is an amazing increase in positivity, especially considering that only three percent of the population was homeschooled before the lockdown.
But there are some more surprising numbers from that poll. Homeschooling, it seems, is not something that more whites want to do to flex their privilege muscle. Only 36 percent of white parents said they were more likely to homeschool. For Hispanic parents that number was 38 percent, while Black and Asian parents were at 50 and 54 percent respectively.
Another jaw-dropping fact is that this trend is not partisan. Forty-six percent of Democrats said they are more likely to homeschool, while 42 percent of Republicans said the same.


The survey doesn’t make a lot of sense based on what we’re hearing in the media about how hard online education is, how children aren’t learning anything, and how parents are maxed out.
A few theories come to mind.
One is that parents have tried homeschooling. Some – not all, but some – see that even in such an uncertain time of cobbled together education, they can do it. If it can be done at a time like this, imagine how effective they could be with more preparation and a curriculum designed for true homeschooling, not one adapted from institutional schooling at the eleventh hour.
But there’s another possibility. Could parents have realized just how much time their children waste in traditional school? Another poll, from the Minneapolis Star Tribune, asked parents how much time their children spend on average each day on their school work. The most common answer was a mere three hours (see chart). This is less than half of the 6.28 hours the average student in Minnesota spends in each day of public schooling. It’s easy to see how parents could start to scratch their heads and imagine how much more their child could learn if not bound by the constraints which come from waiting for the whole class to move along.

The instruction topic which strikes fear into the hearts of prospective homeschoolers is mathematics, and it shouldn’t.

Here’s a stone-cold fact:  do you know how long it takes for a child of moderate intelligence to learn high-school math, up to college-level algebra?  One year.

One year’s instruction, properly taught to a child who is prepared to learn it, or is motivated to learn it.

And if all other learning is delayed while the math is being taught, that year falls to four months.

Here are the caveats.

Learning occurs under two (and only two) sets of circumstances:  love, and fear.  (Love of the topic, and fear of the consequences of not learning it.)  Absent those circumstances, no learning will take place and you’d have about the same success in teaching your dog calculus.

So if you’re not sure of your own ability in math, hire a tutor for Junior and Girl-child.

The only other thing you need to teach your kids before they leave home is literacy:  how to read, and how to write.  They are the easiest things in the world to teach, as long as you yourself are even slightly literate.  (If not, see “tutor” above.)  Literacy is not only the sine qua non  of a successful life, but illiteracy spells absolute doom in a civilized society.

The secret of all children is simple:  they have an innate desire to learn about the world about them.  They are, quite simply, sponges and the learning not only occurs naturally, it accelerates as they get older.  The only reasons it won’t accelerate are distraction (videogames etc.), and boredom (e.g. a high-school classroom).

That said, there is one small problem that we as a society are unwilling to admit:  some children — and adults, actually — are incapable of learning.  Quite simply, their learning takes place up to a point, and then stops completely, usually at about sixth-grade level.  And here’s the inescapable fact related to this problem:  these people are not suited for college — they are not even suited for a proper high school, for that matter — and their futures depend on fostering other skills.  (TV Chef Jamie Oliver is an example:  he’s severely dyslexic, even today, so he made a career in a field in which reading was not critical.  His example is but one of hundreds of thousands, perhaps even millions.)

The only other prerequisite for education is quite simple:  discipline.  It’s the discipline of knowing that some things must be learned (e.g. simple multiplication- or division tables, or the alphabet), and that there are consequences for not learning them.  The joy of homeschooling, by the way, is being in charge of deciding what  those things are, for each child (because each will be different), and what the consequences of failure are.

And I would suggest that such discipline is created far more easily at home — as it has been for literally centuries — than at a public education facility.  Furthermore (and this is the difficult bit), the discipline has to start with the teacher (i.e. the parents).

We all know that children require structure in their lives — it’s such a truism I’m not even going to bother to defend it — so any homeschooling requires planning, and a great deal of it.  Educators need to establish clear goals for their children, but that doesn’t mean timetables.  If you plan on your kids being able to read and understand Silas Marner , Lord Of The Flies  or Catch-22  by age sixteen, for example, know up front that they may accomplish that before that time, or after.  It doesn’t matter.  (Educational goals are like a budget:  they’re an advisory plan, not a rigid timetable.)

All the evidence is there:  as a group, homeschooled kids are better prepared for college, have lower dropout rates and achieve higher grades than their state-educated peers.  It’s not even close.

If, however, you’re too lazy or too fearful or too busy or feel too inadequate to do this for your children, by all means send them back to public school, where their futures will be decided by government-decided regulation and curricula, and shaped by indifferent civil servants who owe their tenure more to union influence than their own abilities.

As Professor Glenn Reynolds has put it (and I paraphrase):  sending your children to public schools could quite justifiably be termed child abuse.

The caveats:  not all teachers are uncaring drones, not all public schools are more akin to prisons than education establishments, not all student populations are feral jungles, and not all government regulations and curricula are absolute shit.
As any bookie will tell you, however, that’s not the way to bet.

Out Of Their Hands

One of the few things about the Chinkvirus pandemic that has given me amusement is the panicked reaction from the Education Establishment against homeschoooling — you know, the dread fact that children’s education has slipped from their grasp and back to (where it really belongs) the parents.

Of course, the screaming and wailing is all utter bollocks, as City Journal‘s Max Eden explains:

It would be useful to know how homeschooled students perform academically compared with their public school counterparts. A 2017 literature review, focusing only on peer-reviewed articles, found that the majority of studies showed positive academic, social and emotional, and long-term life outcomes. Bartholet dismisses much of this literature, noting that it tends to focus on a not necessarily representative sample of homeschoolers who “emerge from isolation to do things like take standardized tests.”

Eden takes this apart for the nonsense it is:

James Dwyer, co-organizer of the event, has declared that “the reason parent-child relationships exist is that the state confers legal parenthood. . . . It’s the state that’s empowering parents to do anything with children. To take them home, to have custody, to make any kind of decision about that.”
Such sentiments would horrify most parents, and Bartholet’s proposed ban on homeschooling would never win at the ballot box, as she knows. She laments how the Constitution “with its negative rights structure is an anomaly, outdated and inadequate by the standards of the rest of the world.” But she expresses hope that litigation campaigns may lay the groundwork for an eventual national ban. It wouldn’t be the first time that coordinated progressive litigation has yielded profound, counter-majoritarian policy change. With elites like Bartholet and her colleagues pushing their vision of family subordination to the state, homeschool parents have good reason to be on guard.

Yeah, that damn antiquated Constitution and its “negative rights structure”.  For those of you either ignorant of or impatient with academic-speak, what this foul woman means is that she would prefer a constitution which lets the State tell the citizens what they may do, as opposed to our Constitution which says that government  may only do this and that, and the rest is up to We The People.

Her preference is always the default position with statists, tyrants and dictators.

Were it not for that “negative rights structure”, I’d suggest that Bartolet be punished or at least censured for wanting the State to take parents’ rights away;  but there’s that annoying little First Amendment thing which affirms her inalienable right to utter anything she wants — even dangerous bullshit like this.

And I have the right to call it “dangerous bullshit”, protected by that same outdated principle.  And the right to tell her to fuck off and die.

Every Day A New Thing

Because I read voraciously, and always have, I’ve followed an unspoken mantra that I should learn something new every single day of my life.  And by “new”, I don’t mean any old shit like the price of pizza at the new Italian restaurant up the road;  no, by golly, I mean something at least of historical, literary or cultural interest.

Longtime Readers will know that I am an unabashed Europhile when it comes to history;  my degree is in Modern European History (not “Western” history, by the way — my knowledge of U.S. history is at best a tad more than “adequate”), and seldom a day goes past when I don’t set out to learn something new about the period of 1750 – 1950 in Europe.

I think I need to broaden my horizons, however, because only yesterday I was brought up short when reading this article by Jorge Montoyo, where the very first paragraph provided this nugget:

During the Tang dynasty, a golden age for poets, Empress Wu Chao [Zhao]  forced every male dignitary who had an audience with her to wash his mouth with rose water and practice cunnilingus on her.  Diplomats and courtiers had to do their best so that their requests were met, and even then it was not a guarantee, since Chinese politics have always been cunning and inscrutable, with oscillations between the sun and the shadow of yin and yang.

My first thought, incidentally, was how loud the feministicals’ screams would be had this been a Chinese Emperor  who forced women seeking an audience to first give him a blowjob.  (My suspicion is that the modern-day Carrie Nations of Patriarchal Sexuality would have 1984’d this historical snippet out of the history books forever.)

My second thought was that Wu Zhao was quite a girl — she made Russia’s fearsome Catherine The Great look like a Victorian governess by comparison —  and if she had even half the power she seems to have wielded, her demand for pre-consultation cunnilingus doesn’t seem so far fetched.  Of course, she reigned for many years, which in itself is a little problematic, because early in her reign she probably looked something like this:

whereas in the later years of her reign, she looked like this:

In the first case, mandatory cunnilingus might have been no burden, nay even pleasurable.  But I have a suspicion that the cunnilingual prerequisite was probably instituted towards the end of her life… and I don’t think I need go any further with that  visual.

Still, I think it’s an examplary historical precedent for us to at least consider today, if for no other reason that even among historians who detest Wu Zhao, there is absolute consensus that her reign was, all things considered, hugely successful.  To quote but a couple of historians:

“To the horror of traditional Chinese historians, all members of the shih class, the continued success of the T’ang was in large measure due to an ex-concubine who finally usurped the throne itself…  Though she was ruthless towards her enemies, the period of her ascendency was a good one for China.  Government was sound, no rebellions occurred, abuses in the army and administration were stamped out and Korea was annexed, an achievement no previous Chinese had ever managed.”
Yong Yap Cotterell and Arthur Cotterell.

Here’s the thing:  if you knew, or were guaranteed, that including cunnilingus would result in as successful a reign (or term as head of government) as Wu’s, do you think any politician (male or female) would turn that down?

Of course, there’s no chance that any of today’s crop of European feministical politicos would ever institute such an exotic (erotic?) practice, because unlike Wu, they all seem devoid of a sense of humor.  And take a look at a sample of said feministical prime ministers and presidents:

You have to admit, though… oh, wait:

Forget I said anything.