A few days ago Andrew Sullivan had a post up about the recent terrible video taken in China of the small toddler who was hit by a car and left for dead in the middle of the street while passerby (many of them) did nothing, not lending a hand, and basically ignoring the horrible scene. Sullivan linked to a few explanations, one of which (George Conger’s) was that the Confucianism discourages a Samaratan ethic. This is an interesting topic (somewhat complicated, I think) but on the face, Conger is pretty much dead wrong. I wrote to Sullivan by email and he posted by response (I was the first “reader” of two commenting on the issue) today in a post, here. I’ll reproduce my reply below (I think my 15 min are now up).
Archive for October, 2011
I read this piece a while back at the Chronicle and liked it – I came across it again tonight while looking for something else. It’s well worth the read!
This op-ed appears in the Springfield News-Leader in response to Kathleen Parker’s national column from Oct 2, using ACTA studies and findings from _Academically Adrift_ to wag a finger at colleges for failing students.
Kathleen Parker argues that colleges are failing to teach basic skills (critical/complex reasoning, writing and communication). I agree that that these skills are essential, and share her concern that college students are not learning those skills at an acceptable level. Parker’s analysis of the problem (drawing on misleading studies by ACTA) is that schools lack quality general education curricula, and so should create them.
Parker is wrong – in many universities quality curricula already exist. She’s also wrong to think of a curriculum as a conveyor belt that transports students through appropriate subjects until basic skills have been passively assembled. In fact, this passive understanding of education actually helps to create the very problem she is so worried about.