David Gelernter on the Decline of American Education

 

On Dennis Prager’s radio program on Monday, his guest for the third hour was David Gelernter, professor of computer science at Yale and author, most recently, of America-Lite: How Imperial Academia Dismantled Our Culture (and Ushered In the Obamacrats).  In the book, and in his interview with Mr. Prager, Mr. Gelernter laments the fallen state of American higher education.  He distilled his views powerfully in response to a caller’s question: If the academics ran America, what would happen?

His response:

Look around you.  You would have people graduating from high school and from college who know no American history, who have no concept of what this nation is for and what it achieved, who have no concept of what the nation stands for, why it should inspire them, why they should take care of it, why it’s any different from Denmark or Norway or Portugal.  You’d have students graduating with no grasp of literature, having barely glanced at any of the great and deep artistic and spiritual traditions of the West.  You’d have students graduating in this country that emerged from the Bible, this biblical republic, who’ve never opened the Bible in their lives and who’ve been taught that it is toxic.  You’d have students emerging from colleges like Yale with ideas that families as traditionally constituted are the problem and that the sooner we can do away with them the better, and that heterosexuality is one random choice on a very long and growing list.  Look around you and you can see exactly what would happen.  It has happened and it’s a tragedy.

One suspects that in the Yale faculty lounge, Mr. Gelernter most often eats alone.

There are 20 comments.

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  1. Profile Photo Inactive
    @BrentB67

    I’d be shocked if they allow him in the faculty lounge. Great commentary.

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    @FatDave

    Today’s equivalent of the High School diploma of twenty-five years ago is the bachelor’s degree.  They dumbed down High School, where parents could keep a better eye on what teachers were teaching their students; in college, teachers can teach most anything away from the prying eyes of parents.  The trend of receiving less and less education for longer periods of time is compounded by the ever larger amount of money spent on this self-perpetuating industry.  Education is in dire need of reform, but that will never happen if conservatives continue to shy away from academe.

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    @

    Every time one of the younger members of my extended family graduates from high school, I send them a note along with their graduation gift telling them what to expect from university professors.  Here’s a bit of it: 

    You’ll be going to university soon.  Here’s something you may learn fairly quickly, as I did:  most university professors are fools.  That’s the kindest word I have for them.  It is especially true when they wander from their field of alleged expertise, but is often noticeable even before that.  Learn what you can from them and avoid antagonizing them and you’ll get by.  Often it is necessary to tell them what they want to hear (it’s like wearing camo); that doesn’t mean you have to buy it.  Most professors have insecure egos, and cannot avoid the temptation to indoctrinate their students.  I knew (nominal) Communist Party members in the PRC that had more intelligence and integrity than most American university professors.   They had experienced indoctrination from experts.

    The school will probably give them prophylactics.  And so, after a fashion, have I.

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    @KCMulville

    Buckley’s book was God and Man at Yale. Now it’s just Man, apparently.

    • #4
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    @TheMugwump
    Fat Dave: Today’s equivalent of the High School diploma of twenty-five years ago is the bachelor’s degree.

    It’s much worse than you think.  I’ve known students with no better than an 8th grade skill level in math and reading who have “earned” a GED.  This so-called equivalent is perhaps the biggest fraud ever perpetrated by the education establishment.     

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    @WillowSpring

    David Gelertner is an amazing person.  I originally followed him because of his  work in parallel computing.  His book “Mirror Worlds: or the Day Software Puts the Universe in a Shoebox…How It Will Happen and What It Will Mean” is now a somewhat dated but at the time ( 1992) was an amazing look towards a future of virtually unlimited storage (and organized retrieval) of information.  In the next year, he became one of the UniBomber’s victims with permanent damage to one hand and eye.  That doesn’t seem to have slowed him down at all.

    • #6
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    @maureendirienzo

    I’ve read this book. He describes two phases of the conversion of elite academia from Christian based schools into post-organized-religion-globalist-intellectual (PORGI) institutions for brainwashing. First the influx of “intellectuals” into faculty positions. These types had disdain for tradition Christian values and questioned America’s world role. Second, the rise in power of academia as it becomes essential for all kids to have college degrees, as professional schools (MBA, journalism) become necessary and supplant on the job training. Dr G says we now have a generation of Airheads, including Obama, who have been taught only by teachers who themselves were schooled by PORGIs. They think they are smart, but they aren’t. Even if Obama is voted out, there’s a generation of kids who think just like him. His solution? Take education away from the PORGIs via Internet based education. He is a computer whiz so I guess he’s given this some thought.

    • #7
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    @
    maureen dirienzo: I’ve read this book. He describes two phases of the conversion of elite academia from Christian based schools into post-organized-religion-globalist-intellectual (PORGI) institutions for brainwashing. First the influx of “intellectuals” into faculty positions. These types had disdain for tradition Christian values and questioned America’s world role. Second, the rise in power of academia as it becomes essential for all kids to have college degrees, as professional schools (MBA, journalism) become necessary and supplant on the job training. Dr G says we now have a generation of Airheads, including Obama, who have been taught only by teachers who themselves were schooled by PORGIs. They think they are smart, but they aren’t. Even if Obama is voted out, there’s a generation of kids who think just like him. His solution? Take education away from the PORGIs via Internet based education. He is a computer whiz so I guess he’s given this some thought. · 1 minute ago

    Yes.   Now, beware attempts to get control of the Internet.  I imagine the Gramscian march through the institutions is harder to pull off in cyberspace.

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    @paulebe

    Outsourcing the teaching of Bible and American values was never wise. Horace Mann, John Dewey, and other’s of their ilk convinced America that they knew what was best for the countries children. The rest is a sad testement to the wisdom of C. S. Lewis, who wrote, “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. Those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

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    @WesternChauvinist
    WillowSpring: David Gelertner is an amazing person.  I originally followed him because of his  work in parallel computing.  His book “Mirror Worlds: or the Day Software Puts the Universe in a Shoebox…How It Will Happen and What It Will Mean” is now a somewhat dated but at the time ( 1992) was an amazing look towards a future of virtually unlimited storage (and organized retrieval) of information.  In the next year, he became one of the UniBomber’s victims with permanent damage to one hand and eye.  That doesn’t seem to have slowed him down at all. · 1 hour ago

    Fascinating! I did not know that. Thanks WillowSpring.

    • #10
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    @DutchTex

    Here in Tyler (pop 100,000 or so) we’re pretty conservative, as most of you know.  I imagine, of all parts of the country, the public schools are also relatively conservative.  Yet, there are still at least four Christian schools and two private academies, each with substantial enrollment.  Not to mention a large community of homeschoolers.

    I wonder what the percentage of homeschoolers/private school educated kids is.  And is it growing?  I certainly hope so.

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    @Pseudodionysius

    I hate to say someone said Told You So:

    In a word, Religious Truth is not only a portion, but a condition of general knowledge. To blot it out is nothing short, if I may so speak, of unravelling the web of University Teaching. It is, according to the Greek proverb, to take the Spring from out of the year; it is to imitate the preposterous proceeding of those tragedians who represented a drama with the omission of its principal part.

    Guess who?

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    @DuaneOyen

    Yale has John Lewis Gaddis to join Prof. Gelernter in the lounge, UCLA has Tim Groseclose.  There are pockets of moderation in every school.  I even know a couple of conservative types on the faculty here.

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    @JamesGawron

    Jack,

    The truth hurts.  A truth this big hurts huge.  However, if we are going to care about anything at all anymore we need to realize that Mr. Gelernter is completely right.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #14
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    @GreatGhostofGodel

    I can’t read David Gelernter’s name without my stomach tying up in knots. I was aware of his work decades ago because of my interest in concurrent and parallel processing and his invention of the Linda tuplespace. This dates to the very early 1990’s, years before the popularization of the Internet due to the introduction of UIUC-derived HTTP servers and browsers. Kaczynski’s targeting of Dr. Gelernter hit a little close to home (not that I put myself in his class; rather that I understood the attack to be against computational sophistication as personified by Dr. Gelernter), and it only deepened my horror to discover that he represents an even more important category of person: someone fully committed to technological progress, but equally fully committed to upholding the human history and values that necessarily inform that progress.

    Whether in technology or in culture, Dr. Gelernter is always a worthwhile read. I’m extremely grateful that Kaczynski was unsuccessful.

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    @

    Sidebar:  For those who are religiously oriented, Gelertner has also written a wonderful and fascinating book called “Judaism: A Way of Being”.  It is a very interesting look into Judaism through the eyes of a very knowledgeable adherent.  I am a follower of Christ, but I wanted to gain some insight into the roots of Christianity and to see how the folks who’ve had a couple thousand years longer to study the OT think about it.  It enriched my understanding of both Judaism and Christianity.

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    @MelFoil

    A short interview:

    Lou Dobbs Tonight: Are Universities, Public Schools Dismantling American Culture? — Jun 26, 2012, “America-Lite” author David Gelernter on the impact of the U.S. educational system on America’s culture.http://video.foxbusiness.com/v/1708290734001/are-universities-public-schools-dismantling-american-culture/
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    @SouthernPessimist

    Just downloaded the book. You know, Ricochet sure costs a lot more than a cup of coffee.

    • #18
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    @MisterD

    Disclosure: I am a high school bio/chem teacher

    Education used to matter because you could fail. A degree implied a work ethic, so it was a flag for employers that you were worth putting on the payroll. At some point, people came to believe that the degree mattered more than the person and we saw increasing pressure to give every child a high school diploma .  Thus pushing butts out the door with a sheepskin became more important than the eductation it was supposed to represent.  You’d be amazed (or not) at the lengths my school has gone to get kids over the line. I have seen administrators flagrantly alter student records. One year I had 18 of 24 8th grade students fail my class in summer school, but every single one of them walked into 9th grade in September. What exactly is this teaching students?  Believe me, most of the teachers I know are not happy with this. Most of us would rather the quality of the students be judged, not the numbers of students who pass our classes. If you want to reform education, we have to let kids fail again.

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    @

    I’ve seen the reality of Mister D’s observations making it’s way now into the military. As a pilot training instructor in the USAF it practically took a congressional act to eliminate an unqualified candidate. The “hollowing out” of our Air Force began once the “leadership” started tying graduation rates to their Officer Performance Reports instead of focusing on producing quality pilots.

    • #20
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