Entries Tagged 'I Love Irony' ↓

Bill Bennett — Conservative intellectual, hypocrite, or both?

According to Bill Bennett (1998):

Our current president seems, by a large quantity of evidence, to be possessed of several improper proclivities, sexual and moral in a large sense, and one begins to suspect that each episode is not an isolated failing but rather a symptom of something more fundamental, and quite relevant. Chronic indiscipline, compulsion, exploitation, the easy betrayal of vows, all suggest something wrong at a deep level—something habitual and beyond control.

Bennett (1998) used those words to describe President Bill Clinton in, The Death of Outrage: Bill Clinton and the assault on American ideals. Naturally, I was interested in reading what The Book of Virtues author had to say about a president who violates norms of decency, honesty, and other American ideals.

I want to comment on just one of the arguments against the Clinton presidency in Bennett’s 154-page book. In describing the feminist defense of Clinton, who was an adulterer and liar, Bennett calls their position “consequentialism.” Or, as he explains: “To nonphilosophers, this is known as ‘the ends justify the means.’”

He wrote,

For feminists, the end that earns (almost) unwavering support is the president’s commitment to the feminist agenda – expanding child care, providing toll-free domestic abuse hotlines, supporting the Family and Medical Leave Act, and above all, backing abortion on demand. (Notice the straw man — a lot of feminists do not back “abortion on demand,” but back reasonable contraceptive and abortion services.)

And he wrote,

Feminists are quite open about this. . . Call it breathtaking hypocrisy, or call it a sellout of principle, but so speaks the sisterhood.

Feminist support for Bill Clinton demonstrates why one strong argument against utilitarianism is its limited utility. By showing themselves to be intellectually dishonest and unserious, feminists have not only destroyed whatever credibility they once had, they have given a very public very green light to sexual predators.

Fast-forward 18 years.

In August, 2016, Bennett started his blog this way:

People often ask me how I — a so-called conservative intellectual and author of “The Book of Virtues”- can support and vote for Donald Trump. I have many good reasons, but nothing on the home front is more important than the Supreme Court.

If that lead triggered your interest, read the whole blog. https://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2016/08/23/what_a_clinton_supreme_court_would_mean_for_america_131586.html

Bennett’s argument for a Trump vote perfectly matches the feminist argument he ridiculed in 1998. Feminists argued for “expanding child care, providing toll-free domestic abuse hotlines, supporting the Family and Medical Leave Act, and above all, backing abortion on demand.”

In 2016 the Bennett blog argued for the Trump agenda related to immigration, religious liberty, transgender bathrooms, the second amendment, the EPA, and abortion. Was his blog “breathtaking hypocrisy,” or a “sell out of principle?” Or was he intellectually dishonest in 1998, when he ridiculed feminists for doing exactly what he recommended in 2016?

Bennett wrote about this, too (1998; pp. 66-67):

Nixonian ethics are wrong because moral precepts are real; they are not like warm candle wax, easily shaped to fit the ends of this or that president, or this or that cause. We do not–or at least we should not–subscribe to the notion that laws apply only to presidents (or causes) we disagree with, but can be suspended for those with whom we agree.

I love irony.

 

Good and bad

Is teaching an art or something else?

It is both — good teaching is an art, bad teaching is something else.

Read about it here:

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/soul-teacher-myrrl-byler-the-influence-of-a-high_us_5a5aeca6e4b01ccdd48b5d2d

 

 

As of tonight, Pence has all the power

It’s Friday night, October 7, and Mike Pence is the most powerful person in the world. With the video of Donald’s locker room talk being played over and over, Pence can give Trump the following ultimatum:

Either you step down as the Republican Presidential candidate, or I will quit as your running mate.

Trump is powerless. He can continue to run for President, but even he must know he cannot win the election after his running mate abandons him. Or he can try to save face by saying it was all rigged, and let Pence be the Republican Presidential nominee.

Either way, Donald loses. I love irony.

(BTW — You read it here, first.)

Saturday update:

The CNN website has several stories about whether or not Trump will quit the race and who has called for him to do so. Two headlines are Trump to WSJ: Zero chance I’ll quit, and Utah Republicans out front in opposing Trump after recording.

Other stories say Republicans can’t force Trump to quit, and Donald says the same thing in published reports. Nobody, however, discusses the ultimatum described above. Pence can’t be forced to continue as the running mate. If he quits, Donald becomes the laughing stock of presidential elections.

Instead, Pence said he cannot defend Trump’s remarks and he wants to hear what is in his heart at the debate on Sunday.

Wednesday, October 12 update

Still no ultimatum from Pence.

Cut the Crap, Mike Pence

Just call Donald and say:

Either you step down as the Republican Presidential candidate, or I quit as your running mate. Conversation over. (click)

“Rigged” irony

If he does not win the presidential election, Donald Trump said it will be because the political system is rigged. From the day of his birth, Trump has benefited from the rigged system we call capitalism. Here is my suggestion for how educators can teach about the extent to which capitalism is rigged.

We all played Monopoly as children. Teachers should teach economics by having students play Monopoly for short periods over the course of the year. Instead of starting with the same amount of Monopoly money, however, each student would start with the amount of money in inverse proportion to his/her family’s wealth. Poor students would be given the number of dollars that corresponds to starting as a wealthy family; and students in wealthy families, would be given the number of dollars that corresponds to starting as a poor family. Then — roll the dice.

Where are the economics professors interested in creating an algorithm teachers could use to make sure poor students get the Monopoly advantages experienced by wealthy families and wealthy students get the Monopoly disadvantages experienced by poor families? I am giving this idea to anybody who wants to create the algorithm. The profits are yours.

Furthermore, students would learn a lot from this data-driven approach to teaching. I love irony. (The irony, of course, is that no superintendent or school board would allow this game to be played, even though it is a “data-driven” approach to learning — what they claim to want.)

The art of singing (and teaching)

Harrison Craig was a contestant on “The Voice”– Australia. Before his performance, he said,

What I feel that I have to do is pour my heart and soul into that song — make the coaches hear what I am feeling (2-minute mark on the video).

That is the best definition, ever, of the art of teaching.

But if you just want to hear something beautiful:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9-3lpscXPrw

At the 5:03 mark, about Harrison’s voice, Seal said, “That is a gift, brother.”

I love irony.

 

Although I am right, I am irrelevant

Richard Elmore recently edited a book entitled, I used to think, and now I think. Twenty well known educators wrote essays on this topic. I was struck by the ridiculousness of what they used to think, and the common sense of what they now think. In other words, they used to think what they were taught within the social science paradigm for school improvement. Now they simply use common sense and experience, when they look at school improvement.

Here is my personal IUTTANIT:

Like many education professors, I used to believe:

  1. Good teaching cannot be defined, so we describe it in hundreds of ways, hoping aspiring teachers learn something from those descriptions.
  2. Good teaching produces test scores that are better than the ones students would have gotten with less “effective” teaching. (Teaching is an applied social science.)
  3. Teachers should be held accountable for the development of student knowledge and skill. Student test scores are the bottom line.
  4. Our beliefs about education should be based on “research-based” facts and reason because those are the “best” beliefs.

Now that I am wiser, I believe the opposite:

  1. Good teaching can be defined. A definition says what something always is and what it never is. Good teaching always involves understanding, imagination, strong character, courage, humility and generosity. It never involves ignorance, intellectual incompetence, weakness, fear of truth, pride, or selfishness. It is difficult to be a good teacher, but it is not complicated.
  2. Good teaching starts with teacher appreciation for the subject and students. It ends with student appreciation for the lessons and teacher. (Teaching is an art.)
  3. Knowledge and skills are not “measured” by standardized tests. Test results are not points on a ruler, they are like light switches that are either “on” or “off.” Therefore, teachers should be held accountable for modeling and teaching the six virtues that lead to knowledge and skills. They are easy to observe. No standardized tests needed.
  4. Beliefs are based on experiences, not facts and reason. All of us “just believe” many things. An example is those who just believe that “beliefs should be based on facts and reason.”

Nobody believes what I believe. So, although I am right, I am irrelevant.  I love irony.

More neo-con ugly

AOL headline:

Donald Rumsfeld: ‘A Trained Ape’ Would Be Better At Foreign Policy Than Obama

I love irony.

Poor Pastor Osteen

AOL headline:

Massive Sum Stolen From Joel Osteen Church

I love irony.

Self-righteousness is not a strategy

More than ten years ago I wrote a newspaper column criticizing writers who attribute motives to others. I am going to violate my own critique here.

When educators say, “We should do what is best for the child,” these words contribute nothing to the decision making process, which leaves the significance of the utterance in the speaker’s motive. Evidently, the speaker wants others to re-set their consciences to what is best for the student, putting aside whatever selfish motives they probably have.

But the reason educators struggle to do what is best for the student is not that they don’t want “what is best for the student.” It is that they don’t know what is best. There is never a sign saying:

→ This path takes you → to what is best for the student →

In fact, the opposite is true. “Best for the student” raises numerous issues:

  • “Best” in the long-term or short-term?
  • What if “best” for one student sets an unacceptable precedent?
  • What if “best” for one student disadvantages others?

The questions go on and on.

Saying you want what is best for the student might make you feel good, but it contributes nothing to the decision making process. Self-righteousness is not a strategy. I love irony.

Measuring knowledge and skills — Really?

My students say we define “educated” in terms of knowledge and skill because these can be measured by tests. Really? How do tests measure knowledge or skill?

They don’t. Student answers indicate whether a specific learning is present or not. Test answers are like on-off switches, not yard sticks. Just like virtue, knowledge and skills are “measured” with teacher judgment. They are just more difficult to gauge than virtue. I love irony.