Free Markets, Free People
As I observe the "civil discourse" debate, I’ve pointed out the left seems peerless in their ability to be uncivil. And opinions like mine have sent the left scurrying to find some example that would rebut that conclusion – something so outrageous that it would force those on the right, like me, to abandon the premise and admit the right is just as bad.
And yesterday I thought they may have found it. Today, not so much. The subject is a segment by Glenn Beck. Full disclosure – I don’t watch Glenn Beck. I don’t listen to Glenn Beck. So I was open to the argument that he might have said something that would indeed provide an example of the rhetoric some folks on the left were attributing to him.
Here’s the snippet of a Beck segment that some lefty sites have been using to make their claim:
"Tea parties believe in small government. We believe in returning to the principles of our Founding Fathers. We respect them. We revere them. Shoot me in the head before I stop talking about the Founders. Shoot me in the head if you try to change our government.
"I will stand against you and so will millions of others. We believe in something. You in the media and most in Washington don’t. The radicals that you and Washington have co-opted and brought in wearing sheep’s clothing — change the pose. You will get the ends.
"You’ve been using them? They believe in communism. They believe and have called for a revolution. You’re going to have to shoot them in the head. But warning, they may shoot you.
"They are dangerous because they believe. Karl Marx is their George Washington. You will never change their mind. And if they feel you have lied to them — they’re revolutionaries. Nancy Pelosi, those are the people you should be worried about.
"Here is my advice when you’re dealing with people who believe in something that strongly — you take them seriously. You listen to their words and you believe that they will follow up with what they say."
Oh my, Beck is saying "shoot them in the head" (assuming the “them” is the left and he’s instructing his viewers to do so). Well at least on the first quick pass. But then, when you read it for meaning, it just doesn’t quite add up. It is the way it is worded. It seems to be saying what the left claims it says, but not really. You’re left not quite believing it.
Enter Patterico who does what apparently the left wasn’t able to do – or found inconvenient to do: obtain the entire segment’s transcript. Make sure you read it all.
In a word, it provides context. I know, what a concept, eh? And it completely demolishes the contention claimed by the left. They really didn’t want to look beyond the snippet of words they had. Context was inconvenient to their disingenuous claim. In fact, it flips it on its head.
When you read the entire segment, you suddenly realize who Beck is talking about – and it isn’t an incitement to the right to go shoot anyone in the head as the lefty sites insist.
As Dan McLaughlin notes the "you" Beck talks about is the Democratic leadership in Congress. And McLaughlin says:
I’m almost embarrassed for anybody gullible enough that they fell for this one.
Yup. I’m not surprised, naturally. But I’d be embarrassed. And that doesn’t even begin to address those who used this to try to spin it into something it isn’t. In their case it isn’t about “embarrassment” but about their credibility.
Of course I’d be interested to hear the opinion of those who eschewed context in this case to comment on something Paul Kanjorski said. You know Kanjorski – the former Democratic Congressman who had to temerity to publish a piece in the NY Times lecturing the rest of us on "civil discourse" in the wake of the Giffords’ shooting? A few months back, speaking of then FL candidate for governor Rick Scott, he said:
"Instead of running for governor of Florida, they ought to have him and shoot him. Put him against the wall and shoot him. He stole billions of dollars from the United States government and he’s running for governor of Florida.
The context of the quote is he was upset that a guy who was involved with a company that was involved with one of the largest Medicare and Medicaid fraud scandals in history wasn’t in jail. Legit bitch, but even in that context, does it excuse the language? I mean if you want to be internally consistent and all.
The left? Crickets.
And in the realm of inciteful and violent rhetoric, it kinda makes the Palin cross-hairs map seem, oh, I don’t know, silly in comparison, doesn’t it?
So? So the left remains peerless in the rhetoric realm and are also adding to their lead in the “deceitful claims” department as well.
A recently published study has found that many college and university students aren’t taught critical thinking skills while enrolled in their course of study. The study "followed 2,322 traditional-age students from the fall of 2005 to the spring of 2009 and examined testing data and student surveys at a broad range of 24 U.S. colleges and universities, from the highly selective to the less selective."
What they found was that about 45% of those students showed no significant improvement in their critical thinking skills during the first two years of enrollment. After 4 years, 35% showed no significant improvement.
The study is unique in that it is the first time a group of students was followed through their college careers to determine if they learned specific skills. As might be expected, academia is not at all pleased with the results.
"These findings are extremely valuable for those of us deeply concerned about the state of undergraduate learning and student intellectual engagement," said Brian D. Casey, the president of DePauw University in Greencastle, Ind. "They will surely shape discussions about curriculum and campus life for years to come."
The students involved in the study were tested using a standard test used to measure critical thinking ability:
The study used data from the Collegiate Learning Assessment, a 90-minute essay-type test that attempts to measure what liberal arts colleges teach and that more than 400 colleges and universities have used since 2002. The test is voluntary and includes real world problem-solving tasks, such as determining the cause of an airplane crash, that require reading and analyzing documents from newspaper articles to government reports.
As noted a significant number of students were unable to break out fact from opinion, make a clear written argument or "objectively review conflicting reports of a situation or event", the study found. In fact those students who fell into this category had a tendency to be swayed by emotion and political spin.
An interesting finding of the study was that students majored in liberal arts courses of study were more likely to develop critical thinking skills than were those that majored in courses of study such as business, education, social work and communications.
Other findings were that students who study alone, rather than in groups, tend to develop critical thinking skills and that courses (such as the liberal arts) which require heavy loads of reading and writing also help develop those skills.
Obviously the answer, if the study is to be believed, is to increase the reading and writing workload of all students. The study found some obvious problems as it is today in many of the universities and colleges included:
The study’s authors also found that large numbers of students didn’t enroll in courses requiring substantial work. In a typical semester, a third of students took no courses with more than 40 pages of reading per week. Half didn’t take a single course in which they wrote more than 20 pages over the semester.
While it would be easy to fob this off on students seeking the easiest path to graduation, it is the school that puts the curriculum together and designs and approves the classes taught. The bottom line is the school is being paid handsomely to turn out graduates that can indeed think critically – a skill in high demand everywhere. Failing in that area at the percentages noted isn’t a student problem – it is a problem of academia.
The findings shot that colleges need to be acutely aware of how instruction relates to the learning of critical-thinking and related skills, said Daniel J. Bradley, the president of Indiana State University and one of 71 college presidents who recently signed a pledge to improve student learning.
"We haven’t spent enough time making sure we are indeed teaching — and students are learning — these skills," Bradley said.
Indeed. And it appears a "back to basics" approach would be most appropriate to bring the students not being taught those skills up to the level they need to be when they graduate. That means tough courses which test those skills routinely. That also means more work for those teaching the courses. The question is will colleges and universities take these findings seriously and do the work for which they are being paid? Or will it, despite the rhetoric to the contrary, remain as it is today, with universities and colleges turning out a high percentage of graduates for whom critical thinking is still an unknown skill?