Dispositional correctness

Education Departments have a Disposition for Bias, writes K.C. Johnson, Brooklyn College history professor. Dozens of education programs require that would-be teachers demonstrate their commitment to social justice.

Traditionally, prospective teachers needed to demonstrate knowledge of their subject field and mastery of essential educational skills. In recent years, however, an amorphous third criterion called “dispositions” has emerged. As one conference devoted to the concept explained, using this standard would produce “teachers who possess knowledge and discernment of what is good or virtuous.” Advocates leave ideologically one-sided education departments to determine “what is good or virtuous” in the world.

The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education’s 2002 guidelines tell education programs “that listed social justice as a goal to ‘include some measure of a candidate’s commitment to social justice’ when evaluating the ‘dispositions’ of their students.”

At Brooklyn College, undergraduates must take “Language and Literacy Development in Secondary Education.”

According to numerous students, the course’s instructor demanded that they recognize “white English” as the “oppressors’ language.” Without explanation, the class spent its session before Election Day screening Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11. When several students complained to the professor about the course’s politicized content, they were informed that their previous education had left them “brainwashed” on matters relating to race and social justice.

In Only the Red Know Brooklyn, Roger Simon comments on Johnson’s article and links to a New York Sun editorial which observes that Brooklyn College’s sociology department has elected Timothy Shortell as its chairman.

Readers of these columns may recall that Mr. Shortell was in the news back in 2003 for having written and published an article asserting that “those who are religious are incapable of moral action” and describing the faithful as “moral retards.” Wrote Mr. Shortell, “Can there be any doubt that humanity would be better off without religion? Everyone who appreciates the good, the true and the beautiful has a duty to challenge this social poison at every opportunity. It is not enough to be irreligious; we must use our critique to expose religion for what it is: sanctimonious nonsense.”

Shortell will be influencing hiring decisions, ensuring that no “moral retards” receive tenure.

Surely, the problem in preparing teachers is not a matter of “disposition.” Most would-be teachers are good people with good intentions. Building knowledge and teaching skill is the challenge.

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Comments

  1. Readers of these columns may recall that Mr. Shortell was in the news back in 2003 for having written and published an article asserting that “those who are religious are incapable of moral action” and describing the faithful as “moral retards.”

    Fine with me – but does Mr. Shortell also include his own apparent extreme leftism as religion, hence making himself yet another “moral retard?”

    On that subject, I have seen all sorts of abuses in the name of many different belief systems, some religious, some not. As long as you have humyn beengs, there will be moral retards (as well as schizoid social retards like myself) and the best you can do is have a secular moral/legal code that protects the individual from other individuals.

    Wrote Mr. Shortell, “Can there be any doubt that humanity would be better off without religion?

    Probably, and without politics too, but at this point I might as well be singing a certain John Lennon song.

    Everyone who appreciates the good, the true and the beautiful has a duty to challenge this social poison at every opportunity. It is not enough to be irreligious; we must use our critique to expose religion for what it is: sanctimonious nonsense.”

    OK, what is goodness and beauty anyway? I’d like the right to walk through life unharassed, and none of this social poison of bigots who don’t like my face, or the way I walk or talk, or most of all, the way I think. I say shoot the bastards. But lacking an infallible bastard detector, and realizing these are usually the guys who make the rules, I realize the futility of the task.

  2. Richard Brandshaft says:

    “teachers who possess knowledge and discernment of what is good or virtuous.” Advocates leave ideologically one-sided education departments to determine “what is good or virtuous” in the world.

    This has always been true. Who defines “good or virtuous” changes.

  3. Walter E. Wallis says:

    On the other hand, somtimes religion is a convenient analog of recommended behaviors. Sometimes God says “kill him”, sometimes God says “let him live.”

  4. This man has run amuck. No responsible scholar would let his or her own ideology twist a department so much. What a mess.

  5. Baltimore Joel says:

    He better watch out. He thinks it is safe to criticize religion. He’s wrong. There could be a Fatwah on him right now.

  6. elfcharm says:

    Please, please please please PLEASE tell me that both of these are from The Onion, or some other parody of a paper?
    please?
    pwetty pweese?
    wif cherries on top?

  7. Johnson addresses an important issue, offers some provocative hypotheses, but not much evidence.

    More here:
    http://ghw.wordherders.net/archives/004177.html