“It’s Time to Cancel the Word Rigor,” read a recent headline in the respected Chronicle of Higher Education. The article detailed growing concerns about hidden bias within what many see as conventional teaching practices. Here, “rigor” was taken to task for throwing roadblocks up for some students more than others, even as its exact meaning remains vague. Webster’s Dictionary defines rigor as “severity, strictness or austerity,” which educators often translate into difficult courses and large amounts of work, rationalized in the interest of excellence and high standards.
While there is nothing wrong with challenging coursework, per se, this interpretation of rigor often becomes a recipe for failure for otherwise intelligent and hardworking students. Such failures can result when rigor is used to incentivize or stratify students, as in gateway or “weed out” courses with prescribed grading targets, or situations where faculty overuse tests as motivation. Rigor discussions I have witnessed rarely consider instructional quality, teaching effectiveness, or principles of learning. Instead faculty complain about poor student attention, comprehension, or commitment. As the Chronicle explains, “all credit or blame falls on individual students, when often it is the academic system that creates the constructs, and it’s the system we should be questioning when it erects barriers for students to surmount or make them feel that they don’t belong.” Continue reading “The Problem with Rigor”
When you think of adoption, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind? Maybe it’s the vague, rosy notion of a happy ending — of rescue, salvation or (more likely) some do-gooding Hollywood mouthpiece like Angelina Jolie adding kids of various ethnicities to her big, colorful brood.
Salon.com carries a story that tells a different tale: “What probably doesn’t automatically come to mind is coercion, racism and a conservative Christian agenda that extends beyond mere abortion prevention. Award-winning journalist Kathryn Joyce describes all these issues — and, sadly, many more — as being shockingly rampant in the multi-billion-dollar adoption industry. And she delves into them, in somewhat jarring investigative detail, in her new book, “The Child Catchers: Rescue, Trafficking, and the New Gospel of Adoption.”
“Joyce details how the adoption industry has become overly enmeshed with the Christian right — how evangelical, pro-adoption church leaders have, in recent years, been creepily urging followers to adopt en masse, often internationally and from war-ravaged countries. Christian adoption booms are common in countries like Haiti and Indonesia after natural disasters and other crises — remember Laura Silsby, the Baptist church leader from Idaho who was charged with child trafficking after illegally attempting to smuggle 33 unauthorized Haitian children across the Haiti-Dominican Republic border in 2010? Continue reading “How the Christian Right exploits adoption”
Biblical scholars have for some time noted that the good book doesn’t itself equate homosexuality with sin. Subsequent proselytizers have done that work.
Now it seems that even within stalwart anti-LGBT Christian groups, opinion seems to be shifting. As Huff Post reports today,
“Bad news for the Westboro Baptist Church and other right-wing groups: the percentage of Americans who sincerely believe that homosexuality is a sin has decreased significantly, a new poll has found.
“The Nashville-based LifeWay Research organization revealed that just 37 percent of Americans surveyed in November said they believed homosexual behavior was a sin, a seven point drop from the previous year’s survey. Interestingly, respondents who did not believe homosexuality was a sin increased by a mere two percent, while a greater number of those surveyed said they were now unsure of what they believe. Continue reading “Conservative Christian opinion shifting”
“Right to work” laws argue that they insure workers the “freedom” to sell their labor, without interference from meddling entities like, for instance, labor unions.
This week, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed such a law. As Slate, further explains, conservatives “have been pressing for so-called “right to work” laws across the Midwest. Major labor groups almost uniformly oppose these bills, so why do we call them “right to work” laws?
Because they allow you to work through a strike. Commentator and lexicographer William Safire chronicled the origins of the phrase “right to work” in his Political Dictionary. A 1912 Bernard Partridge cartoon depicted an employer telling a striking worker, “I can’t make you Continue reading “Why “right to work” means anti-union”
Right wing bloggers have long been concerned with the U.S. birth rate, for a number of reasons. As Roy Edroso writes in today’s Village Voice,
“For one thing, they worry that if America doesn’t outbreed its enemies, democracy is in peril. ‘The Islamic world is reproducing at a rate far above replacement level,’ Continue reading “Falling birth rates worry conservatives”
This month the United Nations declared access to contraception a basic human right. In its new State of World Population 2012 report titled “By Choice Not By Chance,” the U.N. addressed the issue of family planning and stressed the importance of making contraceptives accessible in developing countries. According to the UN, an estimated 222 million women worldwide at risk of unintended pregnancy.
The report stated that “voluntary family planning should be available to all, not just the wealthy or otherwise privileged.” That concept, of making accessible forms of contraception Continue reading “U.N. declares contraception a basic human right”
From today’s The Onion: “THE HEAVENS—Responding to inflammatory remarks made by Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock during a debate Tuesday night, Our Lord God the Almighty Father sought today to distance Himself from both Mourdock and the entire right-wing fundamentalist Christian movement, sources confirmed.
“’I want to make one thing absolutely clear: Mr. Mourdock’s comments from last night in no way reflect my position on this or any other issue,’ said the Divine Creator, speaking at a press conference this afternoon to address Mourdock’s remarks that rape-induced pregnancies were God’s intent. ‘And furthermore, I would like to take this opportunity to say definitively that I, God, do not officially sanction or condone the words or actions of anyone involved in the fanatical, conservative Christian faction that Mr. Mourdock represents.’ Continue reading “God withdraws support for christian right”
Economic decline. Record unemployment. Anti-immigration. Anger toward government. Does any of this sound familiar? Well this isn’t the American Republican Party we are talking about. These are the markers of a rising fascist movement in Greece, where the neo-Nazi “Golden Dawn” is gaining political momentum. It seems that hardship has a differential effect among nations, bringing citizens together in some countries, and dividing them bitterly in others. In Greece the situation is getting ugly these days. In an article entitled “Fear and Loathing in Athens: The Rise of Golden Dawn and the Far Right,” The Guardian describes a tale of civil unraveling that indeed might give US voters something to consider. Put simply, the platforms of Greece’s Golden Dawn and the US Tea Party movements are nearly identical. As The Guardian’s Maria Margolis writes, “You can hear it from blocks away: the deafening beat of Golden Dawn’s favourite band blasting out … ‘Rock for the fatherland, this is our music, we don’t want parasites and foreigners on our land’…Tonight is the opening of the Golden Dawn office in Megara, a once prosperous farming town between Athens and Corinth. Continue reading “Signs of rising fascism in Greece and …”