On Declining Humanities Majors & CRT/LGBTQ Teaching in Schools: Current Events with Hicks and Hill

September 21, 2022 01:00:04
On Declining Humanities Majors & CRT/LGBTQ Teaching in Schools: Current Events with Hicks and Hill
The Atlas Society Presents - The Atlas Society Asks
On Declining Humanities Majors & CRT/LGBTQ Teaching in Schools: Current Events with Hicks and Hill
/

Show Notes

Join Senior Scholars Dr. Stephen Hicks and Dr. Jason Hill on the 122nd episode of The Atlas Society Asks as they discuss an Objectivist perspective on current events surrounding the decline of humanities majors and legislative responses to CRT/LGBTQ teaching views in schools.

View Full Transcript

Episode Transcript

Speaker 0 00:00:00 Hello everyone. And welcome to the 122nd episode of the Atlas society asks. My name is Abby Behringer, student programs manager with the, at society, the leading nonprofit organization, introducing young people to the ideas of iron Rand in creative ways, through our Atlas university seminars, graphic novels and creative social media content. Today, we are joined by two of our senior scholars, Dr. Jason Hill and Dr. Steven Hicks, who will be discussing three contemporary topics for our current events webinar. We will save time at the end of each topic to take some audience questions. So throughout the discussion, please type your questions into the chat on zoom, Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube, wherever you're joining us. And with that, I'm going to pass things off to Dr. Hicks to discuss, uh, why we're seeing a decline in humanities majors at universities. Speaker 1 00:00:46 All right. Thanks. Also happy to be, uh, joined with my fellow academic, uh, Dr. Jason Hill, who, uh, we're both actually professors in Illinois of all places, so small world in that respect. And, uh, this is something I've noticed at my own university. So I'll start with the, the local and then, and then scale out is that, uh, the number of students who are taking courses in the humanities broadly conceived of as English literature, uh, sometimes sociology, anthropology, uh, philosophy, religion, even history has been, uh, has been declining. And I have a news report. I don't have the link with me right now, but a news report showing. And, uh, this is coming from a higher education sort, uh, uh, a source rather, um, that this is a national level trend. And of course, uh, people in the humanities are an extraordinarily stressed about this. They've been to some extent in denial about it over the last, uh, generation, but, uh, the data are, are, are increasingly compelling. Speaker 1 00:01:48 And so they're starting to get very, very worried about it. And so what is, what is interesting though is, uh, that if you look at the range of, uh, typical humanities courses, there's been a significant number, uh, of students, uh, less interested in philosophy, and it has been a, a significant decline, but the greater declines have been in history. Uh, the greater declines also in English literature, greater declines, even in religion. And so then the question is, uh, you know, is this a good thing? Is this a bad thing? Uh, and then even prior to that, why, uh, why, uh, why is that the case now a few things, uh, um, uh, I think that are worth pointing out is, uh, a hypothesis could be that, uh, the reason why we have a significant decline in the number of students taking humanities and correspondingly, uh, a numbers in the social sciences are strong psychology, uh, in the professional schools, students, majoring in business, in education, in, uh, nursing and pre-medicine, uh, uh, pre-law and so on, those numbers are strong. Speaker 1 00:02:57 Even the, uh, the stem disciplines, uh, the numbers are consistent in the, the basic sciences and even increasing in, uh, in, in, in crossover areas like biotechnology, uh, and, uh, uh, kind of physics applied to engineering and areas of robotics. So all of those are, are showing, um, consistent numbers or even very healthy growth. So, you know, one of the reasons that we could put out there just could be that, uh, students go to university and they're looking for something meaningful. They're looking for something interesting. Maybe they're looking for something sexy, they're looking for something that they can make a lot of money. And some fields do a really good job of marketing themselves in that area. You know, major here, you'll get a job and you will also have an interesting job. This is fun and innovative. So hypothesis one could be the business world is exciting. Speaker 1 00:03:54 There's been a lot of entrepreneurship. There's a lot of talk about what's going on in stem, uh, and all of the advances there and people, uh, people pick up on this. There's a lot of, uh, awareness of, uh, uh, medical issues, health issues, awareness of those things. And these are positive areas. And so people are attracted to the positive. So that's one hypothesis. And that would just mean that the humanities haven't marketed themselves well for, for the next generation. Another hypothesis I've been considering is that what has been a trend over the course of the last 40 50 years, and this has been coinciding with the market steady decline in the humanities is the number of first generation students going to college. And the, an increase in the number of immigrant children and children are first generation immigrants who are going to college. So it could be that there is a demographic push that when you are first generation immigrant, or you are the first generation of, uh, uh, in your family, so to speak, to go to college, what you are thinking primarily of is career advancement. Speaker 1 00:05:06 You're looking for something that you think is going to be practical. It's going to get you a job. It's going to be a meal ticket in some way. Now, whether people are accurate in their assessment of which disciplines are going to do that, that's a related question, but that would then say, uh, parents and these students are then more likely to push for, go into business, go into nursing, go into engineering, uh, uh, uh, where you're going to get a job. Don't study art history and philosophy of religion for goodness sake. What kind of job are you going to get? So the numbers then are reflective of a shifting demographic toward more first generation students, and more first generation immigrant students, uh, getting into, into universities where we might then say, two, three generations ago, we had a more traditional, uh, uh, bifurcation in the, in the demographics. Speaker 1 00:05:59 And you would have students who are going to university, who were coming from second, third generation. Uh, you know, everybody in our family goes to university and they're more financially comfortable. They're more on board with the, uh, the story that we like to tell about the empowering of the, the great books and the big minds and being a Renaissance person and so on. But that's not the demographic that we are dealing with right now. So I think of that as a, as a second hypothesis, the third hypothesis is actually the, uh, the one that came to my, my first mind was that maybe the explanation is that the humanities have S shot themselves in the foot over the course of the last generation. What we are finding, uh, in the humanities is an increasing amount of skepticism, cynicism, relativism, adversarial. And so that rather than say, literature, professors teaching great literature, instead they have politicized their departments, or they've turned them into various kinds of postmodern ghettos. Speaker 1 00:07:04 And so what they are doing, and it's not just English literature, but it's, uh, it's going to be more broadly across the humanities is saying, we think the world sucks. We think that you are, uh, you're, you're in a corrupt society. Everything is hopeless. Uh, and we want you to put you at war with society and with each other. And when students come in, they are repelled by that message. So you have students who are young and idealistic. They want something positive, but every time they go into their humanities courses, or at least the overall message is, is something, uh, something negative. And so they vote with their feet and say, okay, if you require me, I'll take a couple of humanities courses for bread, but I'm not going to take a minor in it. I'm not going to major in it. I'm gonna go off and find something actually meaningful and worthwhile to do, and that's going to be some of the other disciplines. Speaker 1 00:07:54 So those are, uh, there's just three hypotheses. I really just float them as hypotheses for, for further discussion. But I do also have one, one further thought that, uh, that this might be an opportunity for us, particularly those of us who are objectives or who are, uh, especially objectives, you know, who believe in the power of philosophy, the power of the big ideas, the power of being broadly educated, uh, that if students are not getting this in their traditional college and university careers, there is a bit of a, a vacuum there, or at least there is an unfulfilled market that if through, uh, some sort of entrepreneurial or nonstandard approach, we can reach those people. We can give them what we know that they need, and they, they kind of know that they need it as well. So that's, uh, my, my, my take on that first topic. Speaker 0 00:08:47 Hey, uh, Jason, do you have, uh, anything you'd like to add? Speaker 2 00:08:51 Yeah, I'd, I'd like to, to add a few points. I think Steven covered exhaustively. Some of the reasons why we're seeing the decline in the, in the majors, in the humanities, um, O one thing that I have noticed over the past 25 years that I have been teaching is that the decline in the majors in the humanities correlate to a rise in increasing rise in tuition fees. So, whereas even when I was student teaching at Purdue university, um, 27 years ago, 28 years ago, before I became, you know, for a professor, students would take classes in philosophy for personal reasons, for self-development, for self-actualization. And the tuitions were not as stratospheric as they were today. So they could still justify it in their minds that I'm taking a class in philosophy. I'm majoring in philosophy. I don't know yet what I'll do with it. Maybe I'll go into journalism. Speaker 2 00:09:45 There were certain fields that were still open to philosophy, uh, like being going into non-profit going into even corporations, who there was a perception that corporations were open to philosophy majors because they were malleable because they were critical thinkers because they were those sorts of individuals who were, who were teachable. And I think that that perception has left the minds of many students. I don't know that there are many corporations today who think of philosophy majors as ideal candidates for employment. They think of them really, as these woke radical leftists. Now, whether that's true, I, I had no way of, of, of, of, of, um, you know, backing that up. It's that sort of conjecture, but I think in the minds of a lot of students and minds of a lot of employers that's going on. So this the, we see a correlation between the, the decline in the humanities majors and the rise in intuition fees. Speaker 2 00:10:41 And, and I think a lot of students just find it very, very hard, especially if they're like a student said first, first, um, immigrant first generation students in, in the classroom in the univers is justifying this sort of move. Um, the other thing also that comes to mind is that, um, a point that Steven just made about the sort of adversarial position vis V the humanities and the way they have comported themselves and the interests of the students. Um, I think iron Rand said it best when she said the purpose of an education is to teach students how to live, um, to, to live one's life, to develop one's mind and to, to, to equip the individual, to deal with the reality, right? And that the training that the person needs is theoretical, it's conceptual. Well, what we find happening in the humanities, given the criminalization of reason and logic in the, in this cult. Speaker 2 00:11:40 And I think this is not a conjecture, this is quite, this is quite serious with the, the sort of cult of cultural relativism that we finds fusing the academic atmosphere and the extent to which in a lot of university, there's a kind of woke ideology that is permeating the universities. I mean, I keep track of this. It's not only, um, it's not only myself who's receiving, um, documentations or letters from the administration saying, have you decolonize your syllabi yet? Which means have you sort of either RIDT of canonical white European male thinkers, or have you made it more pluralistic? Um, there's a politicization and overt politicization of, of, of knowledge where students are coming in and they're finding that other students or the administration is imposing on them. Speaker 2 00:12:36 Um, not objective learning, but or teaching, but activism and advocacy. So the, the whole purpose of the humanities was to teach one, to, to use one's mind critically and to think, and I think students come in and they're confused. Some of them come in fully indoctrinated through the K through 12 system, fully walk and really want. And I see this quite often where my students are rejecting lock, they're rejecting John Stewart mail because they explicitly to me that these men were racist because one wrote the doc, the, the north, the South Carolina, I think with South Carolina constitution and one worked for the east India company. So they Google these thinkers and they say they're racist and we're not reading them. So I think the humanities, uh, are in a flux are in profound, are going through profound changes right now, where they have lost their mission, their goal, which was to, to teach about the human condition among other things. Speaker 2 00:13:36 And they have turned largely into indoctrination centers for many in the minds of many students. And students are either latching onto this, or students are student, a student said are repelled by this, but it's just not really clear today. The larger question, what is the function of a liberal arts education in 2022 today? Mm-hmm <affirmative> I think students even leaving K through 12, right? Having gone through some semblance of a liberal arts education understood what it meant as the beneficiaries of a college education, what it would mean to be the beneficiary of a liberal arts education. But I think that question is lost on society in general. And if it's lost upon society in general, if, if humanities professors themselves cannot answer the question, what today is the purpose of a liberal arts education? What are we, what are we disseminating as, as educators, we leave our students very, very, very conceptually confused. Speaker 2 00:14:40 And I think Steven is absolutely right. They're much rather go into a discipline where there's a sort of certainty where there's a certain sort of predictability, Vivi outcomes, income, income expectations, and the amount of work that they put into their classes rather than this sort of radical subjectivity and uncertainty, uh, that correlates to very, very, um, high tuition rates. So I think the very fact that we, as a society in general as individual professors, I certainly, I think Steven knows we all have strong ideas of what a liberal arts education ought to be doing or ought to be functioning, but that the moral grammar for this is up for grabs and that this is communicated to students, does not make it very attractive for a student who has, for the most part, students who are not going to state schools. And even if you're going to state schools, it's still pretty expensive right now for a lot of students to pay this sort of money for this kind of uncertainty. Speaker 1 00:15:42 Yeah. Uh, follow up thought if I could, uh, struck by your remark about Rand and the purpose of education that had to prepare one how to live. And that prompted another hypothesis that also over the course of the last generation, really going back to the nineties, we've seen a rise of, uh, new technologies and a huge boom in the amount of television programming and a huge boom in the number of, uh, movies, uh, and then the entire, you know, Netflix and Amazon prime and so on just a huge explosion in the amount of stuff that is available to you. And all of that is drama and dramatization. And some of it is contemporary and it's dealing with political events, some and, and moral issues. And just all of the other issues that come up in the course of life, you know, love and sex and relationships and, uh, and adventure. Speaker 1 00:16:41 And some of it is, uh, historically based, you know, it's just a huge number of historical dramas and documentaries and so on. So one hypothesis might be that, uh, students are over the course of the last generation already getting exposed to lots of literature, lots of drama, lots of history, lots of politics, lots of morality outside of formal schooling. And so by the time they come to a university, they're starting to say, well, I don't really need this, uh, in the way that say 50 years ago, when we were more starved for media, we, uh, we might have said, I do want to be exposed to all of this. And so when I go to university, I can, I'm more likely then to look at, uh, my university ed, uh, education, as something more applied, more technical, more career oriented. So that might then be a, a fourth hypothesis to consider, Speaker 2 00:17:37 I think that's right. And, and, and, and conjoined with the fact that readership in general is declining in our society. And the students increasingly find it very difficult to handle broad, huge pages of, of texts. I find that I have to increasing each year assign fewer, um, literal pages to my students because they are, they are reading less and less outside of, of, of, of their classes that I think you're rights, Steven, that they, that they sort of amassed sort of inflammation from what either what ran would call a sense of life or a direct sort of experience of, of, of life itself and of narratives that they draw from drama that they would get from, let's say the brothers car Mazo, or crime and punishment, or the fountain head, or, or, or Dickens, you know, Nicho, um, yes, yes. Very much. So I think this is very, very, very true. Speaker 1 00:18:33 Yeah. So just, you know, watching, uh, my, my kids when they've grown up and all of the, the shows that they watch, and a lot of them are much more sophisticated than the kinds of shows I would watch when I was a, when I was a kid. But nonetheless, you know, even if you think of the ones that are more like sitcoms, there's always a range of character types and they're put in conflict with each other. And there are various moral dilemmas sometimes about honesty and integrity and loyalty and backstabbing, and of, of course, all kinds of contemporary issues get folded in. And so they all get explored and the kids absorb all of these over the course of a season. And, uh, so then why do we need a formal course, uh, introducing introduction to ethics when I've already covered all of those issues, or it's basically a, a novel that has been transliterated into, uh, visual form for the, for the screen. All right. Speaker 0 00:19:27 Well, we do have, uh, quite a few questions. I wanna get to those. I have so many thoughts as someone who just graduated. I do think, uh, the drama was, I was a political science major. Uh, I experienced, um, quite a lot of the drama that you guys were mentioning from students to the point where sometimes it, it chilled speech, actually, I would say for both professors and students, um, when leftist, I remember that professors banning certain topics. If, if conversations got too heated in political science classrooms, you think that'd be, <laugh> not cool. <laugh>, we're not gonna talk about the Euro crisis. We're not gonna talk about Palestine Israel, because it's too controversial. And so that doesn't help. Yeah. Um, but our first question here, Zach Carter on Instagram wants to know are people being warned away from the humanities because of the quality of human's professors, many seem to just have classes that waste time or are just there to sell textbooks. Mm-hmm <affirmative>. So you do hear that argument. Sometimes professors are just trying to sell textbooks. What are, uh, your thoughts on that? Speaker 1 00:20:24 Well, uh, on that I can, uh, speak to my personal experiences that, uh, the universities I've been at, I have noticed, uh, I think this would be, you know, a safe, a qualified generalization that my fellow humanities professors don't take education as seriously as the professors in other disciplines. So I've noticed, uh, over the course of my career, uh, fewer final exams, for example. And sometimes it's, it is a matter of, well, you know, those are just really hard work and that's too demanding and too stressful for the students. So I'm, I'm going to back away from doing anything that's too, too stressful. And then, uh, a certain amount of it, I know just is accommodations by the time you get to the end of the semester, the end of the academic year, of course, everybody's tired and wants a break, but, uh, uh, professors who assign final exams know that they are setting themselves up for lots and lots of close and careful reading of all of those final exams and taking that as a very serious project. Speaker 1 00:21:34 But, uh, if you're not particularly accountable as, as most professors are not, there are lots of ways you can make your workload much lighter. And I have noticed, uh, you know, quite frequently that my, my, uh, my office building where, uh, the humanities professors by and large would be a ghost town on exam week, but you would go into the other buildings, the science building, the business building and so on. And those are still hives of kind of quiet activity as exam week is being taken very seriously. And then, uh, you know, various things like instead of having longer papers expected from the students, uh, the, the paper requirements tended to get shorter and shorter, uh, and, and so on. So, uh, I do think that's a safe generalization that there is a overall, uh, lower level of seriousness in the humanities about their discipline. I think that's going to be communicated to the students. Speaker 2 00:22:33 I, I couldn't agree more with, with Steven. And I think, I think what I see among the professor at, in the humanities is something very, very dangerous, which is education thrives on hierarchy, just like mathematics. You can't learn multiplication before. You've learned addition and subtraction. And I find among the professor at a tendency to deh Ize the classroom, where in the sciences things are very in a strict system of hierarchy. There is the expert, there's a, professor's the authority. I find it annoyingly, uh, uh, increasingly, so that professors in the, in the, especially in the philosophy departments and the literature departments tend to think of students as we are all co-facilitators, we're all part of one big community where we're we're equals here, and we're going to explore the truth together. And the students know as much as the professor does, and we're going to break down this hierarchical structure between professor and students. Speaker 2 00:23:32 And I didn't spend five, four and a half years getting a PhD in philosophy and reading philosophy for the past 35 years of my life. And having taught lock for 22 years to come and visit some, you know, person raise his sophomore of school opinion to the level of human knowledge was barely read. The first page of the second treat is to tell me that he knows about as much about block as I do, but I think, I think this is true. And I think there are serious students in the classroom who are subject to these bull sessions where it's just discussion, run, run, run a mock, and, and there's no structure. And this is encouraged in this age of relative relativism by professors who deliberately want to break down this notion of hierarchy and both authority and, and, and, and, and to deemphasize their expertise, uh, for various various reasons. Speaker 1 00:24:23 Yeah. Think another factor, uh, can be, if you think of the, the sciences, uh, in the sciences, uh, professors are also doing research and for the research, they need to raise funds. They do a lot of grant writing, but they have to show the relevance in some way, even if they're doing higher, you know, highly theoretical things that aren't going to pay off for 10, 20 years or, or more so they're much more reality oriented, but in the hum, but that point of that is it keeps them accountable in a way, if their careers are going to advance, then they, uh, they need to, to stay on the ball in the humanities. There's much less of a tradition of getting funding. And most professors know that, well, you know, I might publish a book and get some royalties out of that, but that's going to be peanuts. Uh, and for the most part, I'm just going to be a teacher and maybe write some obscure academic articles, but I'm not going to have any sort of, uh, financial accountability. And so a lot of them just give up, uh, relatively, uh, early on in their, in their careers. And, uh, tenure means not necessarily early retirement, but something close to, uh, early retirement. Speaker 0 00:25:34 Hmm. That's very interesting with the inside perspective. Um, one, we'll do one more question on this topic. Uh, just so you guys know if we have time at the end, we'll come back to questions from previous topics. We'll do one more quick question. Before we move on to our next topic. Uh, Anthony on YouTube wants to know, uh, what are your views? Um, he says, Jason, but we both can give your thoughts here on why so many young people are looking to conform in, uh, universities today. Speaker 1 00:25:59 Hmm. Speaker 2 00:26:00 Well, you know, Rand was asked this question in the realm of, of, of, of values. And I think people are, I think she's right, that people are definitely afraid of, of being alone of standing alone on issues when it comes to defending their moral positions. And, but I would add also that when you are young and you are, your brain is still developing and your identity is still forming. Social ostracism is a very, very painful, um, experience to have. And so the conformity, I'm a little bit sympathetic here. I don't, I, because, because these are young people who are looking for a sense they're liberated from the, the prison cells of their parents' homes for the first time. And they're looking for a sense of comradery and a sense of community. And the last thing they really want when they go on a college campus is to experience a lot of alienation. Speaker 2 00:26:52 That's the charitable of you. They want, they want a sense of comradery. They want a sense of community. And, and the sense of ostracism that is visited upon one, when one dares to think independently for one's self to go against received wisdom to go against orthodoxy is very, very painful. However, having said that, I don't think that you can cheat or fake reality. I do think that these are still young bargaining adults who do have a responsibility to prepare an identity that they will have to live out for the rest of their lives. And so this is more a normative response that so they, they ought to begin the process of learning, how to sort of toughen up and to stand their ground. And more importantly, that this is not a closed, the university is not a closed her medically sealed environment, that there are like-minded people whom they can look to or pick, pick out, you know, uh, um, and, and, and so think independently and choose kindred spirits, who, who, with whom you have an affinity. Speaker 2 00:27:59 But, but to answer the question, I just think it's, it's, it's when one is, is, is, is still also in that developing stage of not really knowing what one really, really thinks. One is in a bargaining state of developing one's convictions, one's identity. That's what a good classroom is there for. So, for you to intellectually mold through your, your, your growing and your body convictions, rather than have them distorted by these, these, these co conceptually mind wrecking professors that we have in the humanities, uh, it makes it very, very difficult for, for, for students and, and the, and the, the desire to conform just seems a little bit more attractive Speaker 1 00:28:38 As, uh, professor was talking. I think that was very well said, but I was thinking about the, uh, the fountain head, which, uh, I know I can get beat up for this one, but I think is in some way, a deeper novel than Atlas shrugged is, uh, on, on, on this, this theme. Cause it's an interesting in that we tend to think a lot about economics and political issues and our focus there. Uh, and, uh, but that this issue of psychology, individual psychology and how you become a real individual in a social context might be the more important and pressing issue. And so you think about the theme of the fountain head, of course you have Howard rour and you've got Peter Keating and, uh, Dominique Frank con, and all these fascinating characters. But the question that Rand is asking is this question about independence and integrity and what it really takes. Speaker 1 00:29:35 And you can see the, the question that she has on her mind, particularly as a re relatively recent immigrant from Russia, coming to the United States, which is the freest country in the world. It's also the richest country in the world. And yet there are so many conformists in this culture. There are so many Peter Keatings, so to speak, uh, and so many other people out there such that Gale Winan can become a multimillionaire giving people crap of various sorts. So the issue that Americans were facing ran to saying in, in the early middle part of the 20th century, it's not political repression. They're free is not that they are poor, cuz they are in the richest country in the world. And so they don't have to like fight to put food on the table, in a roof over their head or fight for freedom. They've got basically everything, but so many of them still can't manage that basic independence necessary to put together, uh, a really meaningful life. And so that's the problem that she's addressing in that novel. And it's a, it's a deep one. So, uh, I guess where I'm leading, even though I'm a philosopher and I love Atlas shrug for the range of issues that are going on here, there are these kind of core moral issues that are being flagged in, in, uh, in the fountain head working with very good psychology, both individual psychology and social psychology. We needed a lot more work there to really answer that question fully. Speaker 0 00:31:13 Excellent responses, very inspiring. I hope there are young people listening, uh, bring up some moral courage and then read the fountain. Of course, I think next year's the anniversary. So we'll, we're gonna do a book club on it, stay tuned for that. Nice <laugh>. And with that, we're gonna move on to our second topic. Um, the legislative responses to CRT and LGBTQ views in schools. So I will hand it off to whoever wants to, to start there first, Speaker 2 00:31:38 I'm gonna defer to Steven Speaker 1 00:31:39 And uh, okay. Let me share my screen then. Cause I wanted to, oops says host disabled participant screen sharing. Uh, I, I, I need to be able to share my screen Abby, uh, and or Lawrence in the background. So please give me the power. I think we'll start. Speaker 0 00:31:58 I think you just got it. I think Speaker 1 00:32:00 Lawrence just thank you. Yeah. So I want to go this one here. This is a very useful site. I can, uh, we can share the link, uh, on online later, but it's, uh, some people who are opposed to various sorts of, uh, pieces of legislation that are being proposed mostly at the state level around the country with respect to, uh, legislating legislation, rather limiting, uh, the teaching of critical race theory in various sorts of, uh, L L B G Q T types of, uh, theories as well. So the context is that over the course of course, course in the last, uh, decade or so, we've seen a rise of, uh, uh, issues with respect to sexuality and issues with respect to race. Those have become our pun front burner issues. And we've got some fairly radicalized theories that are leading the pack in, uh, in both of those, both of those areas to the point where they have come out of high academic theory, they've worked their way through the education schools and now they are working their way into, uh, into, into the curricula. Speaker 1 00:33:10 So, uh, critical race theory, uh, in all of its specific doctrines or certain approved views with respect to sexuality and transgenderism and so on are working their way into the curriculum, such that many parents and politicians and others are, are, are, are outraged by this. And, uh, they are mounting of course, arguments against it, but they're also mounting political campaigns against them. So I wanna raise this issue of what is the appropriate way to respond to CRT. Now, I think C RT is a, a terrible theory. Uh, everybody basically is against racism as far as I, I know at least 95% of the population, uh, everybody is in favor of, uh, you know, equal rights and liberties and so forth. And, uh, and, and so on what you have is a very jaded, cynical theory, critical race theory that says basically the races hate each EV hate each other. Speaker 1 00:34:10 Everything is power politics in an adversarial sense. White people happen to be the ones in power and they just use their power to keep everybody else down and just hypocritically once in a while, mouth equal rights and liberties types, uh, types of, of language and the people who are the leaders of critical race theory are explicitly drawing on the leading postmodernist theories. They're explicitly drawing on Frankfurt school, critical theorists, uh, and, and they are anti enlightenment all of the way through. So as a philosophical theory, as an applied theory, with respect to racism and so on, I think it is it's a disaster and it is completely wrong. And I do agree that it has made great inroads with respect to, uh, transforming curricula and methodologies inside many of the public schools. But there is an issue about how appropriately to respond to this politicization of racial issues or politicization of sexual issues inside the public schools. Speaker 1 00:35:15 So I do commend this list that there is an any number of states where, uh, uh, state senators or state representatives, all of them Republicans, as it turns out are proposing bills. And there's a lot of different kinds of bills with a lot of different languages, uh, that restricting, uh, banning, uh, sometimes calling for more transparency, uh, sometimes requiring consent from parents before certain things can be taught. So there's a lot of legislative action. And so this is a good way of, of keeping tabs on that. I do wanna though put out what the general issue is now, granted that something where between 90 and 95% of all students in the country go to government funded schools, public education is huge. And so, uh, it's not going to go anyway, uh, away anytime soon. So the question is going to be how we should think about these issues in the short to medium term. Speaker 1 00:36:15 So if a really cancerous ideology does seem to be making inroads in government run schools, what is the appropriate way of dealing with that cancerous ideology? Now there, I think there is a, there is a legitimate dilemma here that politicians are going to be going to be facing. And it's the, the same kind of dilemma that in a mixed economy you're always going to have, right? A mixed economy, MIS mixes <laugh> things that should be done freely with things that should be done by compulsion. And so it always leads to dislocations and there's never going to be a, a happy solution. You always have to choose between two evils, uh, in that case. So one side of the dilemma here really is from the P perspective of politicians is whether we agree or not. We have government schools, we're taking people's tax dollars. We're making parents send their children to these schools. Speaker 1 00:37:08 And I am an elected representative of the people. And so therefore I have a fiduciary responsibility and a moral responsibility, and I swore an oath to represent my constituents on this and to make sure that tax dollars are spent in a way with respect to genuine education. And so if I've got ideological education or something that I think is false education or destructive education, my responsibility as a politician then is to use political tools in order to counter that inappropriate kind of education. The political tools do mean, uh, you know, uh, uh, oversight, firing people, uh, uh, banning, uh, certain ideas and so on. So censorship and control of people and so on. But the argument for that comes out of the kind of responsibility that we have given to those politicians in this, in this mixed economy. So that's one side of the dilemma that points in the direction of saying that politicians are acting within their rights to ban certain ideas and vote for the banning of those ideas. Speaker 1 00:38:15 If they think they are false and or otherwise to, uh, to regulate what goes on inside the schools. Now, the other side of the dilemma though, is that all of history teaches us that the political control of ideas, political control of the schools causes, uh, disaster either one side becomes, uh, dictatorial and cements its political position. And so the debate stops inside schools and schools become indoctrination centers. And then if that doesn't happen, the only other thing that happens is that, uh, if there are regime changes inside the government school system, but education has become a political football, then what happens to education is one side gets in power for a while. It tries to ban the other side's ideas and Ram its own ideas into the curriculum. Then it gets, uh, OTED in, in, in some way, the other side gets in and it starts to try to Ram its own ideas down people's throat and ban the other side's ideas. Speaker 1 00:39:14 And so what you then have is education increasingly becomes politicized and a football and education stops. So both of those are, are real concerns. And then the question only is for us, if we are stuck with government schools for the foreseeable future, what, uh, should our position be with respect to that, those two dilemma, which is the, the lesser of two evils that we should endorse in a more qualified sense. Now I'm going to jump in and say, in my view, the politicization, uh, and having government, uh, offices have stricter controls on what can be taught in school, tighter oversight of the curriculum, banning particular ideas, uh, uh, uh, uh, uh, and, and, uh, having various kinds of ideological tests with respect to teachers, anything in that area that is the worst danger in the medium to long term, because there's a ratchet effect. Once the government gets control and things become politicized, it's very hard to go back. Speaker 1 00:40:27 The ratchet typically just goes down ill in a worse and worse direction. So that then leads me to say that as ODS, as I think C RT ideas are as ODS as I think many of the ideas about sexuality are, I don't think we should ban those in the schools. Instead, what I think we should be doing is following the sunlight is the best disinfectant strategy parents care about their children. Once they become aware of these issues, they get involved. And as these things have been publicized, we are seeing huge waves of parents getting involved. There are lots of other teachers out there who, uh, they have their teaching positions, we can inform them, and they are aware of these issues from their position of power. There are other administrators inside the school system also who are on the other side or various other sides of the debates as well. Speaker 1 00:41:19 So what I would say is sticking to our guns as people who believe in liberalism, broadly speaking, and liberal education, more specifically, that would say, all right. So we were caught sleeping by various ideological movements that have made serious inroads in the schools. Uh, now what we need to do is get ourselves up to speed, get the ideas out there, uh, do better journalism, engage the arguments, uh, and reform the schools that way the temptation. And I understand the temptation of going to political route is a dangerous temptation. And I do think that, uh, with healthy discussion, with healthy journalism, we can win these arguments. And I think that's, uh, something that we have to, uh, set ourselves up for psychologically, that if we are generally going to have a free society, there's going to be hundreds of issues that we are debating simultaneously. And sometimes we are going to be losing on some of those issues or the other sides get momentum. Uh, but rather than give up on liberalism and go the politicization and political controls direction on those issues, what we need to do is say, okay, we're losing on those ones. We need to get our game up to a higher level and win that debate. So I would say, uh, some of these, uh, restrictions, you know, are arguable they're, they are borderline, but I think most of these are dangerous direction to go down and we should not endorse them. Speaker 0 00:42:52 All right. Jason, do you have a response? Speaker 2 00:42:55 Yeah. Can you see me because my screen has completely blocked out. Um, Speaker 1 00:42:58 I can see Speaker 2 00:42:59 You. Okay, great. All right. Uh, oh yeah. I can see myself now. I, I, um, think that it's a very, very confusing issue. Um, complicated issue in many respects, but I, but I want to say a couple things sort of as a preamble to what I'm ultimately going to say is that there are many, many, um, candidates for knowledge claims that, um, compete for inclusion in any curriculum. And there's a vetting process, right? From, you know, should, should students be taught the virtues of eating be broccoli in school? I mean, I'm sure that there are any number of individuals who broach that subject as something that should be taught. So there are any number of, of, of candidates that, that, that are all sorts of knowledge claims that that compete for inclusion in the curriculum. And there's a vetting process that takes place. Um, someone looks at these narratives and makes a decision, um, within, on boards of education and sort of, sort of forth and say that we're going to include these subjects in the curriculum and know we're going to exclude some of these knowledge claims that are competing for inclusion. Speaker 2 00:44:22 So it's not that every single knowledge claim has to be included in a child's curriculum. So when I look at critical race theory, I think the idea of banning anything is, is very dangerous. It's an Ince, um, dangerous, um, ideology. That's predicated on a lot of fault. It is. And, um, on, and one of the things that I think we should be talking about is when we vet these quotes knowledge claims, can they pass certain philosophical, meaning philosophical, meaning tests, can they pass the rigors of scientific meaning tests and so on and so forth? And if they cannot then on that basis, they're just not included without even getting to the subject of banning anything. They're just not included in the curriculum. So I, I find critical race theory to be parts of it, to be guilty of hate speech, but let's not even go the road of banning hate speech. Speaker 2 00:45:29 Let's just say that objectively speaking there have been, and there will continue to be, once we have government schools and private schools do this a way of vetting knowledge claims that are vying for inclusion into a curriculum. And if they fail certain meaning tests, they don't get included. And I think if we went that tried to strive for that objective route, then critical race theory would just not be included. And we wouldn't, we wouldn't even have gone to the situation of banning, uh, a conversation of banning in the way that nobody's talking about banning, whether or not we should, you know, have running experiments to see if lions can meet with, with, with, with, with, with, with whales. I mean, that would just be an absurd knowledge claim. Nobody would take that quite seriously. Be laughed, laughed out of a, a room. So I think the same sort of philosophical meaning test should be applied. Speaker 2 00:46:26 All knowledge plays, including critical race theory. And when they're vetted quite thoroughly, we'll see how both nonsensical untrue. And that is, uh, purely Conject in most, for the most part Conject ideological form of activism that is meant to inflict harm on white children. I've written about this. And, um, and we could just bypass the whole BA banning procedure that way. Um, if that doesn't work, I am going to reluctantly because I'm such a first amendment, almost absolutist. Um, I mean, speech is contextual, but I'm going to say that Steven is right, that let the light of the sun shine on the filth. That is much of critical race theory to expose its false. It is, and its false claims and bring in more parental awareness. Um, and for the changes to occur on a more organic and democratic way in the sense that parents are paying for their students education through their taxes. And they should have some say in what, in how their children are being socialized under these government schools. Speaker 1 00:47:49 Yeah. Okay. Nicely said at the same time, uh, just say one more thing that, uh, say in the long term, uh, we might not be stuck with government schools, but because I, I am encouraged that there's a huge number of entrepreneurial experiments going on in the education space right now. So what seems like this, uh, unassailable government monopoly of the last century, uh, it could go the way of the dinosaurs sooner than we, than we expect. So Speaker 2 00:48:21 We hope so. Yeah. Speaker 1 00:48:22 Yeah. Speaker 0 00:48:23 Well, and on sort of on that note, um, my modern goal asks many teachers have stated that they'll ignore government mandates in order to keep teaching C R T and LGBTQ ideas in, in their classrooms. So if there's no apparatus for parents to actually vote with their dollar and get these people removed, what are we to do? Speaker 1 00:48:45 Um, I want to show one more slide if I can. Speaker 0 00:48:52 Thank you. So, Dan, I think you have the power. Speaker 1 00:48:55 I have the power Speaker 0 00:48:57 <laugh> Speaker 1 00:48:58 There we are. Here we are. So, um, one of the, uh, states that has been stricter with respect to bans, uh, inappropriately, in my sense again, far, pretty far over the line was, uh, specifically banning various books and, uh, wanting to have the certain books cleared out of the library and so on. And so here was an Oklahoma teacher who was not going as far as the, the questioner was saying, just saying, here's a list of books that have been, uh, put on a band list. I'm going to let give my students access to those books by Jo them. Here are some internet sites that you can go to to find these books that have been banned. So she wasn't teaching the books. Uh, instead she was just giving them access, but they were, uh, going after her as well. So the scrutiny can go all the way down. Speaker 1 00:49:48 And I think it is a disaster when we get to get to this level as well. So what I would say is, uh, my, my first response would be to say, uh, I independently of what the issue is. If there's a politician who has banned certain books and the rule comes down and we have a teacher who's courageous enough to say, I don't think politicians should be telling us the educational professionals, which books we're allowed to teach and is willing to push back to argue against that kind of ban on principal. I would say more power to those teachers at the same time. Uh, uh, I endorse what, uh, professor hill was saying just a little while ago, people who are interested in saying, all right, let's show that we, the educators can have this organic discussion that we have good standards for deciding what gets into the curriculum and what doesn't, we're having open discussion about that. We're trying to keep up with the, the literature, uh, uh, we're keeping the parents informed and we're, we, we can show that we're not doing indoctrination. We're actually interested in, uh, presenting all or both sides of, of controversial issues and so organically getting their act together so that they can push back against the politicians that I think is the, the healthier way to go. Speaker 2 00:51:11 Right. And I, I would just add one more thing. I, I, I went to school in, I grew up in Jamaica, went to a very strict private Catholic school and we start school high school at age of 10 or 11. And, uh, we didn't start talking about issues of sexuality or sex until, until one entered puberty. It was called sex education. You were not permitted to teachers were not permitted to, to have us read books with, with sexual material until this, the, the, the nuns and the priest thought that physiologically, we were ready for that, which is when you entered puberty. But I, but I remember also there were some risky books in the library. And, um, if you wanted to sign those out, if you wanted to check those out, you really had to get consent from your parent. There was one believe or not. Speaker 2 00:52:01 I can't believe this book was in there, but it was, um, the joys of marital sex. And, um, you had to have been, um, almost approaching graduation before you could check that book out and you had to get the consent of your parent. So I think it's great that, that, that there are these, you know, because short of living and ability to tell here and state, I'm not going to, which I don't endorse, I'm not going to say that teachers shouldn't have the right to, to recommend reading books to students. But at the same time, we have to think that we don't want a fourth grader being exposed to a book. Well, I think most people would think it's inappropriate a book in which there's explicit sexual or overt violence in a book. So in a, in a, in a, in a book. So I think that chil parents exercise properly jurisdiction over their children's lives. Speaker 2 00:52:57 Then I think that if a, if a, if a given the age of the child, if the, if the, if the librarian wants to sign a, a list of books to the student, I don't see it being as unreasonable to get the parental consent, uh, as a precondition for doing so. I don't, I think that's one way of, of, of sort of circumventing the whole issue of band books being kept away from students that a parent should just high parents regulate what their children watch at home on television or judicious parents. Do. I think that same sort of, um, judiciousness could be applied when it comes to the question of books that are being banned. Speaker 1 00:53:40 Yeah, I think entirely that's the, that's the right approach on the spreadsheet. I was, uh, displaying a few minutes ago. Some of the proposals do with respect to sexuality issues, uh, just imposed age limits. Uh, certain issues can't be raised before children are age six or other issues can't be raised before children are age nine 12, or, or whatever it is. So I think the impulse behind all of that is entirely right. Cause you know, uh, children are developmental creatures physically and psychologically, including in their, uh, their sexual development. And so, uh, there should be expertise among the teachers about what kind of sexuality issues are introduced when and what the appropriate resources, right. And so on. And so all of that should be, uh, a normal part of curriculum discussion by the teachers and the administrations and in consultation with the, with the parents, as we all learn more about developmental biology, developmental, psychology, and so on. Speaker 1 00:54:42 And I think it's entirely appropriate than as you were suggesting, you know, that librarians who would be part of this conversation would then say, well, here are the books that we judge, you know, kids can read after they enter puberty. Here are ones that can read after age nine and, and, and so on. So the issue really here is who should be making that judgment. And if we're getting to the point where it's politicians, we're asking politicians to decide <laugh> what books, uh, we can read with respect to, uh, sexuality, uh, teachers and administration, we're going to override, then something has gone, gone very much awry. So the political decision, we need to have that Chinese wall, so to speak as much as we possibly can. Speaker 2 00:55:27 Yeah. Speaker 0 00:55:28 And, and kind of on that note of, you're talking a little bit about parental authority, um, there's a question here about parental responsibility. So amist sheen on Twitter wants to know why did slash do parents seem to ignore their, uh, children's education? Speaker 1 00:55:45 Well, that's a sad subject. Know, Jason, do you wanna take that one up first? Speaker 2 00:55:50 Well, this is something I, I don't think this is always true. I think in good faith, parents handed over their children to the public school system, the K through 12 system and to universities and say, look, I hand my child over as, uh, to an institution that is going to continue the continued socialization that I have started in the home. Because if you hand your child over to a, to a government school or a private school, there is some cont whether one believes in anything like socialization, there is some continued developmental part of one's psychological, emotional, and moral state that is continuing. And, um, so I don't think it's that they don't care. I think that they're just trusting. They have been trusting. They they've done this in good faith and know they've seen the kind of Malarky and the kind of nonsense that, and the kind of put over politicization of the classroom. Speaker 2 00:56:44 And, and I think COVID played a huge role where parents were at home with their children and, and seeing firsthand what was being taught in these classrooms, the political, um, the over politicization of, of subjects and have become increasingly concerned as they should have been all along, but not, you know, to the point where you're going to sort of like try to micromanage your child's education. If you make a decision to hand your child over, I think there has to be some good faith in that, but I don't think it's true that they've always been disinterested in their children's education. I just think that, uh, uh, short of cynicism and, and, and then radical skepticism, most parents have just sort of in good faith, trusted these institutions to act in a proper and appropriate manner towards their children. Speaker 1 00:57:35 Yeah, no, I think that, uh, that latter judgment call is right. I think most parents are in that category. It's been a life is busy. There is a division of labor. These schools are available. I trust that teachers, uh, like doctors and, and other people are, are, are professionals and so on. And so there is a, a benevolent trust there that has properly been eroded significantly in the last few years. Now, whether most parents are in that category, I think that's true. But I do wanna say I've been impressed with some of the school districts that I have firsthand knowledge of with the large number of parents who are very actively involved. So, you know, they, they do have some trust, but they also, they show up to every parent teacher meeting. They're there for the orientations, they're studying their children's, uh, grade reports and they're emailing teachers they're very actively involved and there's a lot of them who are, who are, who are doing so, uh, and I think now more parents are in that category, uh, as, as they're becoming politicized at the same time, I think it is true. Speaker 1 00:58:40 There's still a significant minority, uh, group of parents who are, uh, it's not a good faith thing. <laugh>, they're not actively involved. They've in effect seeing the school system as free baby sitting. And they're just glad to have the kids out of the house so that they can do whatever. And so that's a, that's an irresponsibility. And unfortunately we do have a lot of parents in that category as well, but I tend to think of those three groups as, uh, uh, as, as, as I dunno, I don't wanna say that they're equally represented, but, uh, I think the, the, the group that professor hill was talking about is the largest group. Speaker 0 00:59:17 Well with that, unfortunately we have run out of time, but I wanna tell you guys, if you enjoyed this conversation, you have burning questions that you wanna ask Dr. Hill or Dr. Hicks. You can join them on clubhouse. Uh, you can visit Atlas society.org/events and see when their upcoming clubhouse conversations are. We also have Atlas intellectuals with Dr. Hicks once a month. So, uh, check all of that out on our events page. So with that, thank you, Jason and Steven, and thank all of you for joining us today. If you enjoyed this video and wanna see more conversations like these, please consider making a tax deductible [email protected] slash donate, and be sure to tune in next week when the case for Mars author, Robert zer will be our guest on the L society ask. Speaker 2 00:59:59 All right. Thanks Abby. Thanks. Thank you. Thanks Steven. Thanks Abby. Thanks Lawrence.

Other Episodes

Episode

July 13, 2022 00:58:33
Episode Cover

The Atlas Society Asks Jack Carr

Join The Atlas Society CEO Jennifer Grossman for a very special 112th episode of The Atlas Society Asks with New York Times Bestselling Author Jack Carr. Listen as they discuss what inspired Jack Carr to write his acclaimed series "The Terminal List" and also his appreciation for Ayn Rand. ...

Listen

Episode

March 02, 2022 01:00:56
Episode Cover

Russia's War on Ukraine: Current Events with Hicks and Tracinski

Join The Atlas Society Senior Scholar Dr. Stephen Hicks and Senior Fellow Robert Tracinski with host and Student Programs Manager Abbie Berringer for an Objectivist perspective on the war between Russia and Ukraine on the 94th episode of The Atlas Society Asks. ...

Listen

Episode

June 09, 2021 00:57:38
Episode Cover

The Atlas Society Asks Aubrey De Grey

Aubrey de Grey is the Chief Science Officer and Co-Founder of SENS Research Foundation, an organization dedicated to changing the way the world researches and treats age-related diseases by researching, developing, and promoting the means to defeat the human aging process. A biomedical gerontologist, he co-authored Ending Aging: The Rejuvenation Breakthroughs That Could Reverse Human Aging in Our Lifetime to explain the science behind the biomedical technology that would slow, and even reverse, aging. He is one of the foremost speakers on the topic of aging as a curable disease. ...

Listen