Curtis Dahlgren
MY ANNUAL CLASSIC: College Orientation Week 101
By Curtis Dahlgren
August 24, 2009

"There is nothing so ignorant as the educated man if you get him off the thing he was educated in." — Will Rogers

WHEN I WAS ADMITTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN-MADISON FOR THE SECOND TIME, in 1970, I fully expected to have my religion attacked before the end of the first week. The professors didn't even make it past the first day! And the attack came in Landscaping 101.

THE AMERICAN PEOPLE have been the most creative people on the planet for over 200 years. We not only invented baseball, football, and basketball, but the bulk of the world's technology. A lot of credit for that goes to the engineering majors from our universities, but sadly, the schools of education and the "front offices" of those institutions have been hijacked by the social engineers from the "soft" sciences. We now know them by their fruits — the soft Nanny State.

The head of the American Federation of Teachers, Albert Shanker, admitted: "Ninety-five percent of the kids who go to college in the United States would not be admitted to college anywhere else in the world." "Freefall of the American University" (Jim Nelson Black)

OUR STUDENTS NEED HELP, but the engineers and other hard science grads have spent the last 40 years doing their own jobs, returning to campus only to stand on the sidelines cheering the football team. Too many of them don't even notice that the old alma mater has grown steadily more anti-tradition, anti-business, anti-American, and now even anti-Semitic.

According to UP magazine, Ben Stein says, "I don't like being pushed around for being a Jew, and I don't think Christians like being pushed around for being Christians. I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around."

At least we could HOPE so; we are about two generations too late responding to the "pushing around," and we are losing the very memories of our Judeo-Christian roots. Therefore, I am re-posting the following excerpt from my favorite column, written in December 20005.

I am going to re-post this one every August for as many Augusts as America survives. If your kids are going off to college, please print out a hard copy of this column and, if all else fails, sneak it into their underwear, like Sandy Burger. For all the words that I've written, I simply can't top the ones in the quotations that follow.

"No man who worships education has got the best out of education . . . Without a gentle contempt for education no man's education is complete." — G.K. Chesterton

[I'm "cheating" a bit this week by allowing other people to write most of this column. They happen to have said some important things about "education" — some things I wish that I had said!]

  • "I think everyone should go to college and get a degree and then spend six months as a bartender and six months as a cab driver. Then they would really be educated." — Al McGuire (coach, Marquette WARRIORS)

  • "It is a thousand times better to have common sense without education than to have education without common sense." — Robert Green Ingersoll

  • "An educated person is one who has learned that information almost always turns out to be at best incomplete and very often false, misleading, fictitious, mendacious — just dead wrong." — Russell Baker

  • "It's not that our liberal friends are ignorant; it's just that they know so much that isn't so." — Ronald Reagan

  • "For us in Russia communism is a dead dog. For many people in the West, it is still a log lion . . Blow the dust off the clock. Your watches are behind the times. Throw open the heavy curtains which are so dear to you — you do not even suspect that the day has already dawned." — Alexander Solzhenitsyn

  • "An era can be said to end when its basic illusions are exhausted." — Arthur Miller

  • "Learning, n. The kind of ignorance distinguishing the studious . . . That which discloses the wise and disguises from the foolish their lack of understanding." — Ambrose Bierce

"An education isn't how much you have committed to memory, or even how much you know. It's being able to differentiate between what you know and what you don't." — Anatole France

  • "Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance." — Will Durant

  • "Education is learning what you didn't even know you didn't know . . . Knowledge is not simply another commodity. On the contrary, learning is never used up. It increases by diffusion and grows by dispersion." — Daniel Boorstin

  • "The object of education is to prepare the young to educate themselves throughout their lives." — Robert M. Hutchins

  • "Much education today is monumentally ineffective. All too often we are giving young people cut flowers when we should be teaching them to grow their own plants. — John W. Gardner

  • "Education is simply the soul of a society as it passes from one generation to another." — G.K. Chesterton

As Aristotle said, however, "Man is by nature a political animal," and so, sadly, even education has become a political animal. We have stupidly left our children's souls in the hands of "professional educators" who have no intention of passing on our society's soul to the next generation. They only want to introduce generation XYZ to "new political paradigms," "new morality," and "evolving standards of decency" (perpetual "change").

In the name of "equality," mediocrity has become much "esteemed," and excellence has become almost a crime (punishable by Ritalin).

Solzhenitsyn said, "For a country to have a great writer is like having another government. That's why no regime has ever loved great writers, only minor ones." [Mediocre ones.]

Lady Margaret Thatcher said, "Be warned. A powerful, radical left-wing clerisy is bent on destroying what every past generation would have understood to be the central purpose of education — that is, allowing (in the words of Edmund Burke) individuals to 'avail themselves of the general bank and capital of nations, and of ages.'

"A society needs only one generation to abandon the task of learning and transmitting its culture, for that culture to become an alien, lifeless irrelevance . . [and] the cultural revolutionaries will drown out what Lincoln called 'the mystic chords of memory' with jarring cacophony." [Whom the gods wish to con, they first make illiterate]

Generation XYZ can't make heads or tails out of Maggie's first sentence there, so they just crank up the amps on their car radios. The "soul of our society" that Chesterton was talking about is all but forgotten, and our society's "culture" — that we used to simply call Americanism — has been replaced in the public schools with social engineering toward a New World Order (as in "The world is my country")!

CONCLUSION: It's alimentary, my dear Watson

Back to August, 2009: The elites now are saying openly that "borders are relics of a bygone era" [unless it's the border with Gaza]. The elites are openly accusing all religious people of "anti-intellectualism" [unless you're talking about "the religion of peace" — Islam]. The elites are now saying that diversity is wonderful [unless you're talking about our Judeo-Christian beliefs]!

"The last thing leftist professors want is a roomful of students who are able to argue persuasively and challenge the bias of the typical lecture hall," says Jim Nelson Black (author of Freefall of the American University).

"Alas, the academy today is obsessed with the trivial and the trashy, relentlessly focused on sexual politics, and gripped by a deep antagonism to tradition that has degenerated into a new absolutism." [Black, quoted in Whistleblower, 9/05]


If you still haven't been moved to action to send or print this column for young college students, perhaps you just don't realize what they're facing! Well, Black lists the following examples of the "new" absolutist-sexual curricula:

  • Soap operas, U. of Wisconsin

  • Queer Theory, Queer Texts, Dartmouth

  • Gay Fiction, Cornell

  • Unnatural Acts: Introduction to Lesbian and Gay Literature, Brown

  • Feminist Critique of Christianity, U. of Pennsylvania

  • How to be Gay: Male Homosexuality & Initiation, U. of Michigan [etc] . . .

"On the first day of class, after explaining what the course would be like, [the prof] admonished us to be open to changing our views. He said, 'Check your egos at the door, because we're right and you're wrong.'" — Abby Nye ("Fish Out of Water: Surviving and Thriving as a Christian on a Secular Campus")

Alexis de Tocqueville warned us: "Because Roman civilization perished through barbarian invasions, we are perhaps too much inclined to think that that is the only way a civilization can die."

Tony Blair said, "We will not win this battle against this global extremism unless we win it on the level of values as well as force."

At about the same time, British academia came up with a new program euphemistically called "secure values," which eliminates any teaching of right and wrong, to "relieve schools" of the need to teach British Heritage (quoted by Rush Limbaugh, 8/01/06).

Never mind Burke — even Churchill is "out" again in Britain! Washington, Jefferson, and Adams didn't even last that long in America's schools, of course.


PPS: Here are some recent crazy headlines:

Michael Savage still banned in Britain, but the Lockerbie bomber is released to a hero's welcome in Libya.

President Obama accuses skeptics of his non-existent plan for universal HELLthCare of being un-Christian.

Crude oil and gasoline prices rise; consumer spending drops unexpectedly.



© Curtis Dahlgren


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)

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Curtis Dahlgren

Curtis Dahlgren is semi-retired in southern Wisconsin, and is the author of "Massey-Harris 101." His career has had some rough similarities to one of his favorite writers, Ferrar Fenton... (more)


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