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[Xmca-l] Re: The imploding university

Wow, that is an amazing insight Greg!

-----Original Message-----
From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu [mailto:xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu] On Behalf Of Greg Thompson
Sent: Sunday, February 28, 2016 11:05 PM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity <xmca-l@mailman.ucsd.edu>
Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: The imploding university

I found it fascinating reading to read the article that Annalisa posted:
alongside the piece that Michael Glassman posted:

After reading these two side by side, here is what I see:

- (from annalisa's linked article) when minority students argue that they need psychologically safe spaces in which to engage in challenging and creative work, they are considered whiners (and, if I may whine a bit, I'm getting sick of hearing college professors whine about their students).

- (from Michael's article) when highly paid Google employees argue that they need psychologically safe spaces in which to engage in challenging and creative work, they are right.

Interesting no?


p.s., I was also struck by Patten's pointing to "government" as the killer of free speech - I couldn't help but wonder what about private industry and the slow privatization (in the U.S.) of that once public good called "education" and the way that universities and professors are increasingly held in the thrall of capital. But now I'm whining.

On Sat, Feb 27, 2016 at 3:13 PM, Wendy Maples <wendy.maples@outlook.com>

> Yes, good point. I smiled at that sentence, not least because of how 
> the 'Marxist' teacher's political view was framed as evident 'issue'. 
> Anyway, yes, not so much about content (though caveats re incitement, 
> etc), but about context and in a learning context, one would hope that 
> supporting critical thinking, logic, expression as well as challenging 
> ideas (including, perhaps especially received wisdoms) would be priorities.
> > From: annalisa@unm.edu
> > To: xmca-l@mailman.ucsd.edu
> > Date: Fri, 26 Feb 2016 17:42:43 +0000
> > Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: The imploding university
> >
> >
> > Hi Wendy and Greg (and others),
> >
> > Thanks for sharing your comments. The pivotal sentence for me in the
> article was:
> >
> > "In fact, he [Chris Patten's Marxist teacher] made me a great deal
> better informed, more open to discussion of ideas that challenged my 
> own, more capable of distinguishing between an argument and a quarrel, 
> and more prepared to think for myself."
> >
> > Please highlight in yellow: "capable of distinguishing between an
> argument and a quarrel."
> >
> > So in light of your replies, I think that content should not be what 
> > is
> at issue, but the method by which such content is handled in discourse 
> in a free and democratic society. Theoretically, one should be free 
> and able to be a complete bigot or say bigoted things, but at the same 
> time be rigorously challenged for being one or saying such things. The 
> worst meets the best.
> >
> > Don't get me wrong: In the process of examination, bigoted positions 
> > are
> inevitably seen as untenable and unsustainable, but the part where we 
> (all) learn is how we (all) are able to see that process of 
> examination in action, and in particular scenarios where the content is always changing.
> >
> > So... why is it not a good idea to be a bigot in society?
> >
> > We learn to answer that question best in the university. Every 
> > academic
> and every graduating student should be able to answer such a question.
> >
> > I myself do not have the confidence in myself to articulate in a 
> > public
> sphere (of heated debate) why it is not a good idea, but just that I 
> know and feel that it's wrong. But thinking, feeling, or saying "it is wrong!"
> is not good enough (to me anyway). I should be able to fully explain 
> my argument in a given scenario and do it with a cool head. (Can you?) 
> I should be able to confront sexist or racist or elitist behavior with 
> equanimity, because doing so is my small contribution (and perhaps one 
> might say duty) to maintaining a democratic society (or planet?), as 
> a(n
> earth) citizen.
> >
> > To be that kind of citizen, there requires scaffolding between
> feeling/knowing it is wrong (and even not feeling/ not knowing it is 
> wrong) and explaining (why it is wrong). To do this, I require the 
> space to play on that scaffolding, with lots of padding so that if I 
> fall, I can get back up and climb that scaffold until it becomes 
> facile for me. I become an acrobat of debate.
> >
> > Imagine a society full of such acrobats, but where no one gets hurt, 
> > and
> everyone is in appreciation of acrobatic endeavors, spotting others 
> and challenging ourselves to do new moves.
> >
> > This is where the university is failing us because we have fewer 
> > safe
> arena to debate the merits (and not just for the students), yet there 
> is plenty of quarreling and pettiness over turf, which in my view has 
> (at its
> root) more to do with insecurities and discomforts with acts of 
> debating, and thus any discussion can easily turn into a fit of 
> intolerance and attempt to muffle others, or should I say Others?
> >
> > (White privilege can be an Other, too, because the definition of an
> Other is: "Anyone not like me is an Other", right?)
> >
> > To be fair, if no academic feels safe to "say it like it is" and 
> > debate
> the merits, then how can students see that in action? It means that 
> insecurities to debate come not from being intolerant oneself, but 
> knowing/feeling one is economically dependent upon an intolerant 
> environment, and that just feeds on itself into a circle of vice.
> >
> > It becomes a Game of Gotcha or of Musical Chairs.
> >
> > What happens when there is only one breed of an academic who says 
> > only
> what is safe to say? What happens to the gene pool?
> >
> > Just my 2¢ of duty, for what it's worth!
> >
> > Kind regards,
> >
> > Annalisa

Gregory A. Thompson, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Anthropology
880 Spencer W. Kimball Tower
Brigham Young University
Provo, UT 84602