Talk:Essay:Flaws of Phyllis Schlafly Column on Modern English Schooling

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Thanks for your essay. A few quick replies:

  • Ted Kennedy's staff largely wrote the "No Child Left Behind" bill, and he ensured passage in the Senate
  • if you agree that Shakespeare is the best, then replacing his works with anything is a degradation
  • no one is saying that all non-Western works are inferior to the best of English literature, but inevitably some are
  • English departments are among the most liberal on college campuses, and their ideologically motivated changes reflect that
  • check out what Seung-Hui Cho was learning in his English department courses and let us know what you think.

--Aschlafly 19:22, 25 May 2008 (EDT)

  • Well, in point of fact the bill was bipartisan. Since I was unwilling to get into a political sidebar, I describe it as "Republican" in order to express where I feel the blame lies, since it was bipartisan but extraordinarily underfunded by a Republican administration. It's not really an issue to me, actually.
  • Your logic under Shakespeare does not hold up under scrutiny. One can easily spend several semesters studying only his greatest works, which in survey courses would not leave room for things like Beowulf or the Bible. Accordingly, your logic dictates that replacing several semesters of only Shakespeare's most highly lauded works with other essentials, such as the Bible, is a degradation. Things must always be replaced and prioritized, including Shakespeare.
  • Yes, some are, absolutely. I would not put A Season of Migration to the North on the same level as Shakespeare. I would put the Mahabharata on that level, however. Clearly, assessments of quality must still be made.
  • Our definitions of conservative and liberal are markedly different, so I will choose not to address this point.
  • Where would I find that? I have read his original plays, which are depressingly amusing ("Chewing a cereal bar angrily"), but am not aware of the curriculum.--Tom Moorefiat justitia ruat coelum 19:31, 25 May 2008 (EDT)
I have checked, and I don't think a list of his classes has ever been released.--Tom Moorefiat justitia ruat coelum 20:17, 25 May 2008 (EDT)
A list of English courses he could have been taking can be found here. Looking at it, though, I am not sure what I was supposed to see with regard to the V-Tech shootings. It's a pretty standard curriculum of courses, and even better than a lot that I have seen. It is understandably poorer than some schools that do not have a technical focus, but with a couple of Shakespeare courses, a Chaucer course, and many survey courses, I think it fulfills its needs quite well. V-Tech students probably also appreciate the Grant Proposals class, which is particularly apt for them. Was there something you found objectionable?--Tom Moorefiat justitia ruat coelum 15:52, 27 May 2008 (EDT)
Obviously Shakespeare is not being replaced with the Bible, so your strawman argument is absurd. Shakespeare is being replaced with liberal works of inferior quality.
Seung-Hui Cho's work as an English major were widely publicized, and at about a 9th grade level. Trashy offerings in the English department at Virginia Tech and other colleges are disclosed in their catalogs.--Aschlafly 22:55, 3 June 2008 (EDT)
My argument was not a strawman, I believe; it was an example of where the logic you suggested would inevitably conclude. You stated that "replacing [Shakespeare]'s works with anything is a degradation," and I was pointing out that there is ample Shakespeare of the highest quality to fill all available undergrad English time, and that thus your argument would justify crowding out the Bible in favor of the Bard. Your logical proposition is flawed, as I think I demonstrated through my reductio ad absurdum.
Accordingly, my point is that assessments of quality and priority must always be made. In the modern world, the canon has been expanded enormously, and this is what Mrs. Schlafly doesn't realize; to include the Mahabharata, some of Shakespeare must inevitably get bumped.
It might help if you could give me an example of a "liberal work of inferior quality" that has been added to introductory survey courses in lieu of Shakespeare.
It is true that Cho's personal work (Richard McBeef is one of the titles I remember offhand) was highly publicized, and even analyzed. I quoted it above, as an example of its quality: "Chewing a cereal bar angrily" is one of the stage directions! But looking at the catalog from his year (linked above), I am not sure which courses you think are trashy and thus might have had an impact on him.--Tom Moorefiat justitia ruat coelum 23:25, 3 June 2008 (EDT)
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