Notepad on Life

December 21, 2016

Cop this plea – there’s no degree in ‘streetwise’

Filed under: crime,Education,Law and order — - @ 5:00 pm
Tags: , ,
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Pic courtesy of Police-Mad-Liam

It’s hard to pick highlights in Peter Hitchens’ latest excellent Mail on Sunday column, but vested family interest leads me to the last item, on the misguided plan to make university degrees mandatory for would-be police officers.

“Graduates spend the first ten years in any job discovering that they don’t, in fact, know everything, while the non-graduates roll their eyes in despair,” writes Hitchens. 

“What police officers need is not a certificate, but the common sense that comes from years of friendly contact with the people they serve.”

I shudder to think how many potentially excellent policemen and women will now never materialise because of the fashionable yet flawed belief that only higher education can unlock a young person’s potential. What a slap in the face for those myriad ‘failures’  who left school with nothing, only to become rip-roaring successes once they were set free to engage a world beyond Academia.

It’s just not everyone’s bag, the life of dissertations and doctorates. There are people whose talents lie in their hands, in hand-eye co-ordination, or in tackling real problems instead of the more abstract variety. If that means three years in the University of Life then they should be allowed to get on with it, not erroneously pigeon-holed just to keep the quota brigade happy.

We don’t need spectacular double-firsts from our police. We need street-savvy, impeccable people skills and an air of mild intimidation that can, when warranted, be fully backed up by the judicious use of brawn. And you don’t learn those qualities over cappuccino in some junior common room.

As for how the whole thing might yet backfire on those who dreamt it up, meanwhile, just Google ‘university’ and ‘snowflakes’, and brace yourself for the day when our boys in blue ask if they can sit this particular riot out because they’ve been ‘triggered’.

 

May 29, 2016

Life-on-a-plate mindset hard to swallow

Filed under: Education — - @ 11:50 pm
Tags: , , ,

One thought always reins me in whenever I feel a rant at the young coming on.

I was young once.

Just as these supposed ‘end times’ will one day be ‘the good old days’ for our children, so I am now the rantee turned ranter, an ex-young fool now despairing of young fools, who in turn will one day despair of those who follow them.

Humbling as this reflection may be, I suspect it has an equally recurrent flipside. As the wheel turns, each generation it flings into middle age will, I fancy, think its situation to be unique, insisting that “We were never this bad at their age…”

If so, then it’s now my turn, but no matter how timeless a trap I may be falling into, it is impossible to remained silent in the face of goings-on at America’s Oberlin College. (Which I comment upon here because, if it starts in America, chances are it’s headed Britain’s way.)

Hell, we might have grumbled about homework, exams, job interviews and the other steps up life’s ladder 40 years ago, but we could grudgingly see the point to them. Those who actively sought to dismantle the ladder were isolated oddballs. Today, they have become mainstream.

Today, if they have Oberlin College as part of their address, they want it to be social activism first, education second. Abolish all grades below C and replace examinations with chats with a professor, they demand, to take account of how this whole ‘learning’ thing is really beginning to mess with their change-the-world objectives.

“The students say that between their activism work and their heavy course load, finding success within the usual grading parameters is increasingly difficult. ‘A lot of us worked alongside community members in Cleveland who were protesting,’ Megan Bautista, a co-liaison in Oberlin’s student government, said, referring to the protests surrounding the shooting death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice by a police officer in 2014. ‘But we needed to organize on campus as well — it wasn’t sustainable to keep driving 40 minutes away. A lot of us started suffering academically.'”

Certain truisms to which even their radical predecessors would at least nod, now seem to completely pass people by. The idea that you’re at college first and foremost to learn, for example (and see how America holds you to that, kids, should Bernie Sanders’ dream of free education for all ever come to pass). Or that part of that learning process involves focus and prioritising, waking up to the fact that our actions have consequences and that no-one can have or do it all.

If you’re not meeting the demands of your college, it calls for re-appraisal by you, not for some convenient sleight of hand in the college’s grading process. And if you don’t know it well enough to write it down, don’t kid yourself that you’ll express it any better with the eyes of some professor unamused by such indulgence burning holes in your forehead.

The world will still need saving when you graduate. You may be surprised how much more you can achieve in that regard when you’re based in an office or laboratory instead of behind a fast-food counter.

Of course, if that generational cycle continues to do its thing, the snowflakes of Oberlin College will one day seem paragons of diligence and realism compared to those who follow them. But they must excuse me if I’m finding that a little hard to visualise right now.

January 11, 2016

Universities and now sport the symptoms of a society gone soft

There may be something in the theory that the opponent most demonised by his critics is the one they’re most afraid of.

I’d heard a lot about Rush Limbaugh before I started listening to him, all of it from those whose politics are at variance to his, and whose withering dismissal of the American radio talk show host had me braced for some ranting demagogue who would display only the most fleeting relationship with Planet Earth.

And then I listened to the man himself, courtesy of his weekly highlight show broadcast via TuneIn. The reality was one of the more evenly spoken of all the conservative radio voices, which for the great majority of his airtime seemed to articulate little other than eminent common sense. Presumably, we are both insane together.

See what you think, once you read this transcript of a segment in which he considers how the Pollyanna mindset of so many millennials, to whom happiness is an entitlement that must not be tarnished in the slightest degree for even one second, is now seeping into both supposed seats of learning and professional sport.

The opening five paragraphs are largely preamble. It’s when Limbaugh turns his attention to ex-New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin that he really starts warming to his task.

The money quotes…

“I shouldn’t have to be upset, which seems to be the rallying cry of Millennials. Don’t upset me! I don’t have to be upset. I don’t want to be upset. Don’t microaggress me.”

“It’s what all this college campus rot is all about. They don’t want to hear things that upset them, be it anything they disagree with or anything that might slightly offend. They don’t want to hear it. They shut people up…It’s childish, spoiled rotten childish. But it’s not just the kids…we have adults now who have been raised with that culture, who have now assumed positions of responsibility and authority where you would expect some wisdom and the ability to offer guidance to some of these people and push them to man up, advance their maturity or whatever.

But…there are fewer and fewer people capable of this.”

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