New Barnard Curriculum's Lefty Spin
Spewing out trendy-sounding general education curricula is a cottage industry at universities. How else are all those unnecessary administrators going to fill their time?
Watch! The video I guess. If you want to. I dunno.
Hear! The provost say "Students needn't learn how to know, they need to learn how to think."
Explain! To me what the hell that means.
Hints that the curriculum is mixed up with the postpostmodern tangle that has its claws in academia abound. One thing such folk love is so-called "local knowledge." See...local is good! And other cultures are good. What's bad is the West. Especially the U.S. You want to minimize that stuff.
And, of course, there's really nothing about locality that's relevant to thinking per se. "Thinking locally" doesn't make any sense except in conjunction with bad, idiosyncratic epistemology that tries to localize reason itself. Of course you might be interested in facts about your locality...or you might be interested in thinking about your locality...but your locality has nothing to do with thinking itself. Principles of reason are universal if they are real. But universality, you see, is oppressive and hegemonic. That's the point of all this really. Deeply (well, not very deeply...) buried in all this is the postmodern/postpostmodern distaste for universality, objectivity, reality.
Then, of course, there's "thinking about social difference," another left-spun aspect of the thing. It's not that there's nothing important about "difference" (though it's hard not to be cynical about this damn mantra of the political and intellectual left, originating I guess in Derrida)... It's rather something like this: Here's a chunk of the curriculum that ought to be about society. Now, among the things that are interesting about societies are their similarities and differences. "Difference," however, has become a kind of quasi-religious obsession of the postpostmodern left. And here's a school that not only follows along with this crackpot trend by overemphasizing "difference"...it makes it the main theme of the whole damn unit on society. The right-wing analog would be a university calling its social science distribution requirement something like Thinking About Autonomous Individual Children of God And The Free Markets And Other Institutions In Which They Participate.
Then, of course, there's the fact that these highly-politicized bits of the curriculum are characterized as units about thinking. But I'm done ranting dammit.
Oh...and then there's the over-engineered bullshitty nature of the whole thing...something only administrators could love...let alone believe in... And here Anonymous's point about the alliance of the campus left and administrators is relevant...