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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review April 5, 2013/ 25 Nissan, 5773

What Has Happened to Liberal Education?

By Linda Chavez



http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Liberal education once stood for something grand and good: the study of the arts, humanities and sciences with the aim of improving the mind through the acquisition of knowledge and the pursuit of truth. But some of America's most elite colleges and universities have all but abandoned this goal. Instead, many selective schools favor the faddish, the politically correct and the dogmatic, all the while proclaiming their devotion to promoting "critical thinking" and tolerance.

Conservatives have complained of this for decades, with little effect. A slew of books over the past 25 years have exposed what goes on in the ivory towers, from Allan Bloom's treatise "The Closing of the American Mind" to Dinesh D'Souza's polemic "Illiberal Education." But none had provided a careful, in-depth study of a single school until the National Association of Scholars (NAS) this week released its 360-page report "What Does Bowdoin Teach?" (www.nas.org/projects/the_bowdoin_project).

Bowdoin College is a small private "liberal arts" school in Brunswick, Maine. Its admissions standards are demanding. Bowdoin accepts fewer than one in five who apply (though the school admits about a third of black and other "underrepresented" applicants to satisfy its commitment to "diversity"). The cost of tuition, room, board and fees for the school's roughly 1,800 students is hefty: $56,128 for the 2012-13 academic year, a sum that exceeds the annual income for half of all American households.

The school was founded in 1802 and boasts a distinguished cast of graduates, including Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and U.S. President Franklin Pierce. But as the report's authors, Peter Wood and Michael Toscano, demonstrate, Bowdoin is not the school it once was. Nor does it provide the education, I venture, that most parents who send their children there believe they are getting, nor one most donors to the school's nearly $1 billion endowment would approve.

Bowdoin requires all freshmen to take a first-year seminar, which is supposed to provide the gateway to the "critical thinking" skills the college purports to value. Among the 35 courses from which students must pick, easily half are either frivolous or, worse, tendentious exercises in identity politics. The titles alone tell the story: "Fan Fiction and Cult Classics," "Beyond Pocahontas: Native American Stereotypes," "Racism," "Fictions of Freedom," "Sexual Life of Colonialism," "Prostitutes in Modern Western Culture" and "Queer Gardens," to name a few. The latter course "examines the work of gay and lesbian gardeners and traces how marginal identities find expression in specific garden spaces." One can only infer that the college deems such knowledge a necessary building block to every student's intellectual development.

Wood and Toscano do more than catalogue the obvious excesses of the modern academy, however. Wood brings his training as an anthropologist to the examination of campus life and culture, painstakingly researching the college's records, including minutes of academic meetings, to reveal how Bowdoin's mission changed over the past 40 years. In a series of appendices and within the actual report, the authors document the decision-making process that has transformed Bowdoin into the school it is today.

The study also looks at the college's implicit promotion of sexual promiscuity and the "hook-up" culture among students, which begins during first-year orientation. A play called "Speak About It," which all incoming students must attend, includes what its authors say are autobiographical sketches from current and former Bowdoin students. The play depicts graphic on-stage sexual encounters between heterosexual and gay couples — complete with simulated orgasms. Paradoxically, the Bowdoin community also seems obsessed with preventing sexual assault, which administrators seem to believe is rampant on campus despite the low incidence of reporting alleged attacks.

If Bowdoin were unique in its abandonment of traditional liberal education, this study might be of no more than passing interest. What the authors found at Bowdoin, however, exists to some degree at many if not most elite colleges and universities. This study deserves widespread dissemination and discussion — first among Bowdoin's alumni, donors and the parents of current and potential students. But anyone interested in the future of higher education in America should take note.

Our colleges and universities shape the next generation of leaders and citizens, for better or worse. And the country's most elite schools will influence disproportionately who we become as a nation and a people in the future. What has happened to Bowdoin College should matter to all of us.

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JWR contributor Linda Chavez is President of the Center for Equal Opportunity. Her latest book is "Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics". (Click HERE to purchase. Sales help fund JWR.)

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© 2006, Creators Syndicate

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