[Marxism] America No. 1?

Mark Lause MLause at cinci.rr.com
Sat Mar 5 12:25:59 MST 2005

To my comment that "the level of ignorance is astronomical," Carrol Cox
wrote, "This is greatly misleading. There has been a long thread on
lbo-talk on this topic."

I'd be the first to admit that much of my evidence is anecdotal and
personal, based on many years in the classroom teaching in a very
specific field.  The problem is not innate student stupidity but
institutional contempt for my own field, along with others which have
been described as unprofitable to students in the job market.  

At one point in my long career as a adjunct brasero, I found myself in
hot water for giving a student an "F" on an essay in which she explained
how Columbus had mistreated the Indians by taking them to America.  She
appealed the grade on the grounds that she had mentioned Columbus,
Indians, and the former's "mistreatment" of the latter.  The
administrators also made it clear to me that they agreed that it was
unfair for the student's ignorance of history to burden her quest for a
degree....  I have scores of these kinds of anecdotes, all reflecting
what seems to me to be the institutional nature of the problem.

That said, the results are quite obvious.  For many years, I measured
this by testing the basic knowledge of incoming freshmen about politics
and history.  I stopped this when I was coming up for tenure because the
administrators objected to it as a violation of the students' privacy.
However, I also stopped when the results reached a point where as many
freshmen as could correctly approximate the time frame of the Vietnam
War were confusing it with one or the other of the World Wars.  

Mark L. 

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