Monday, February 27, 2006

We Don't Need No Education

You know, the older we get the more we think we went through the educorporate system one generation too soon. (OK, maybe two generations if you want to get technical and no we don't use Grecian formula and yes those are own own teeth).

Back in the day, our Instructional Technicians would assign readings and we would do them ("do" being a word subject to several rather slippery interpretations) and aside from the occasional Cliffs Notes, life pretty much went on as usual.

Today when a reading is assigned the inmates write their representatives in Congress. And those representatives listen! Dang! Where were these guys when we were reading Moby Dick?

An Arizona state Senate committee voted to let university and community-college students opt out of required reading assignments they consider personally offensive or pornographic. "I really hated it when I was in school and they made me read all that high falutin' stuff," said state Senator Thayer Verschoor. "I don't think students should have to learn stuff they don't already know."

When asked how the word "pornographic" would be defined, Verschoor said he would "leave that up to the fellow that didn't get his assignment done."

The legislation stems from complaints by Christina Trefzger, who attended community colleges and Arizona State University. She said some required reading assigned by instructors hard. "A lot of those books had more than a hundred pages," she said. "And no pictures either."

"A lot of students are being forced to choose between their favorite shows and the demands of education," she told members of the Senate Committee on Higher Education. "I for one would prefer not to have to think about things I don't already agree with, or someone hasn't already told me how to think about."

Senator Harry Mitchell said he fears the measure will let students shield themselves from foreign ideas. "The purpose of education is exposure, to new ideas, to new ways of thinking," he said. "Well, that and keggers."

"But I don't want to learn new ways of thinking," Trefzger replied. "I'm only going to school because my parents said if I didn't I'd have to get a job and move out."

Senator Jake Flake agreed that students should be exposed to ideas they may find offensive. In his own case Flake, a rancher, said his college courses included ideas from environmentalists and others who he believes are wrong. "They tried to tell me clear cutting timber in the hills around my house would weaken the slopes and cause a landslide. What a bunch of hooey. Everyone knows it was the four inches of rain that caused the landslide. That girl should just not listen to people she doesn't agree with."

Doyle Burke, an English and humanities instructor at Mesa Community College, said the proposed legislation is flawed. He pointed out it would allow a student to demand alternative materials for anything considered "personally offensive. And by personally offensive I mean anything they have to write a paper about, or take a test on."

"Damn straight," Trefzger replied, "I mean no way. Look, I'm paying your salary, you have to do what I say."

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