Slate has a series on college education running lately, and in it is this statement about the “liberal” approach to education, as formulated by one Astrida Orle Tantillo, associate dean and associate professor of history and Germanic studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago:
The assault on liberal education from the left presumes that pedagogy must be “student-centered,” with professors no longer “teaching” but “facilitating” or serving as “architects of interaction” who “enable” students to teach one another. The assumptions underlying this methodology are democratic and, as such, inimical to a type of education that prizes the difficult or esoteric. For example, the “communicative approach” is the most popular one in foreign-language classes across the country. Beginning students interact with one another more than with the instructor. Instructors are further discouraged from correcting mistakes for fear of inhibiting self-expression. This model emphasizes oral communication (and students do speak with greater ease), but at the cost of precision, knowledge of grammar, and ability to read serious texts…. One could draw similar parallels to other courses, including English composition, where many instructors do not teach or correct grammar. As the National Council of Teachers of English would have it, students have the “right” to their own language. Paradoxically, this approach is more insidiously hierarchical than the old teacher-centered one: Teachers consciously withhold their knowledge and high-culture experiences, thereby limiting the students’ educational opportunities.
Give me a break. This is the kind of crap that conservatives make up and attribute to liberals so that Rush Limbaugh can come along and discredit us for allegedly believing it. I consider myself pretty far left, and certainly people are under the impression that the college I teach in is one of the most liberal liberal arts schools in the country. And there is no way in hell my college administration would put up for a minute with this anti-intellectual claptrap, nor would anyone on the faculty ever ask them to.