The intense focus on diversity, the political distortions of history, and the progressive nature of today’s classroom agenda are increasingly being questioned by students, parents, and education professionals.

Minding the Campus contributor Heather MacDonald takes a look at how these elements combine into an “academic-victimology” complex using one institution’s new prep course offering as an example, and worries that this attitude will spread to impact younger scholars.

A pop quiz:  Where might a student most likely research the following topic: “The Perversion of the American Dream: Deconstructing Media Portrayals of Sex Workers through Analysis and Real Narratives”?  At Smith, perhaps?  Possibly Brown?  Actually, Phillips Andover, one of the country’s oldest and most august prep schools, recently sponsored a student project in this classic topos of feminist theory.   An Andover twelfth-grader spent last summer examining more than 20 films and television series based on the sex worker industry and analyzing interviews with sex workers in three major U.S. cities, reports a school press release.  The student concluded–in impressive mimicry of feminist jargon–that the “persistent misrepresentation [of sex workers] in popular media has resulted in the loss of [their] ‘true voices.’”

Anyone who still associates elite prep schools with Latin declensions and mandatory chapel has not been keeping track.   The academic-victimology complex, having achieved a near total victory over the college curriculum and bureaucracy, has been busily cloning itself within costly secondary schools.  It’s not enough that college freshmen be taught to think of themselves first and foremost as members of oppressing or oppressed racial and gender groups.  Fourteen-year-olds are also prime targets for conversion, because it’s never too early to discover your place in the system of American injustice.

Instead of feminist bromides, MacDonald described a more classic curriculum for teens.

If there was any grown-up at the school who said: such a topic is not worthy of us and is unfit for a teenager (who should be reading Keats instead), his protest had no effect.  Here are some alternative subjects that an Andover student might have researched over the summer: the role of the chorus in Greek tragedies, the architectural styles of the Chartres cathedral; the contrasting comic visions of Ben Jonson and Shakespeare; the evolution of constitutional democracy out of absolute monarchy; the debates between the American Federalists and Anti-federalists; or the various mechanisms available for constraining government, including the separation of powers.  For a more “real world” project, how about the nature of money, the preconditions for markets and how they operate, or the difference between debt and equity.

MacDonald concludes with a chilling prediction: “It is a measure of how seriously the academic left takes its mission, however, that it has so thoroughly colonized secondary education.  The elementary schools are next.”


 
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