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Posts Tagged ‘education’

It’s a terrible job market for new college graduates. Lots of companies aren’t hiring at all this year. Many companies that are hiring have seen their reputations tarnished recently. And not everyone is self-motivated enough to follow Seth Godin’s advice.

That explains why a surprising number of college students are looking for (government / religious) jobs. Applications to graduate programs in (“public policy” / religion) are up substantially over previous years:

Though Attridge identified declining job prospects as a potential motivator for students to continue their education, he pointed to a crop of contemporary moral and (political / religious) issues as a key influence on students seeking [to] study (public policy / religion).

Among those relatively new issues are global climate change and “gross immorality in the financial sector,” Attridge said, which may have inspired students to take a more (command-and-control / command-and-control) approach toward community service.

“There are questions about whether the fundamental moral fiber of the country is corroded,” Attridge said.

The explanation resonates strongly with Stephen Blackmer, who will begin studying for a master of (public policy / divinity) at [Yale] this fall. Blackmer, 53, had worked in conservation and sustainable development for nearly 30 years before answering a call to join the (government / ministry).

Blackmer said his experience has taught him that the main obstacle to slowing climate change is not technological or economic, but (political / spiritual).

“Climate change is in effect a (political / spiritual) problem, because we’ve developed the technologies to protect the world from climate change, but not the (authority / wisdom) to use them,” he said.

Blackmer, who said he hopes to join an “environmental (lobby / ministry)” after graduating, said the slumping economy made his decision to attend (policy / divinity) school easier.

In fact, people like Blackmer are overwhelming graduate programs, who are seeing record numbers of applicants. Probably, though, there’s nothing to worry about:

Attridge and Aleshire take a positive outlook to the future of (political / theological) education, and both said they expect the applications to continue to rise.

“We’re at a cultural moment when there’s a lot of concern about the common good,” Aleshire said. “(Politics / Religion) is a social force.”

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Move over, Electrical Engineering! Get out of town, Computer Science! Take a hike, Biotechnology! Scram, Finance! There’s a hot new academic field in town: Islamic Studies!

Right now it’s only found at a few obscure colleges, like NYU and Yale and Georgetown and Harvard and Columbia and Texas and Indiana and Cal State Sacramento and Ohio State and Stanford and Kentucky and UCLA and Arizona State and Boston College and Claremont and San Francisco State and Swarthmore.

But that all could be changing soon, with the founding of the first four-year accredited Islamic college in the United States:

Zaytuna College will start with two majors: Arabic language, and Islamic legal and theological studies.

It will not be a seminary, although some graduates could become prayer leaders, or imams. Most U.S. mosques are led by imams from overseas, considered an obstacle to Islam’s development in America.

Other students could go on to start American Muslim nonprofits, or become Islamic scholars through advanced study at other schools, said Hatem Bazian, a Zaytuna adviser who teaches at the University of California-Berkeley and Saint Mary’s College of California.

They’ve got a motto (“Where Islam Meets America”), a mascot (“Ali the Fighting Caliph”), and a variety of halal meal plans.

Of course, if this takes off, it bodes well for my plan to start the first four-year accredited Hellenic Polytheistic Reconstructionist University, Athena Tech. We’d start with two majors: Greek language, and Titan/Olympian Studies. Students could go on to be epic poets, semi-immortal warriors, tragic heroes, or (with advanced study at other schools) satyrs.

I already know what my critics will say: students can already learn these topics at regular universities, where they’ll be surrounded by a wide range of non-Hellenic classmates and can experience life as Hellenic Americans. I’ll just be “ghettoizing” them as Hellenists, they’ll argue.

This is true, of course, but the state of Hellenic scholarship in the West is so anemic that a crisis is looming. The Hellenist community has no leaders who have been properly indoctrinated!

Who will talk for the religion? We have to train a generation!

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I have so far resisted blogging about the “hostile to religion” teacher. (Although I did include it in the @yrif twitter feed on account of the hilarious “teacher violated first amendment by insulting religion” headlines. Are you following the @yrif twitter feed? Go ahead, sign up, I’ll wait.)

But Hemant managed to push my buttons this morning with his post on the topic:

Comments for or against religion — outside the context of the class — have no place in a public school classroom. I don’t know why Corbett was talking about religion… maybe he was provoked. But it doesn’t matter. He can’t let himself get off-topic like that.

Despite the fact that I agree with Corbett’s statement on Creationism (and several of his other comments), it’s hard for me to say he was correct to say them in class.

I know if this were a Christian teacher saying pro-Christian comments, we’d be furious. Why is it ok for this teacher to give his opinions against religion (even if you agree with them)?

I attended public schools, and I had teachers who got “off-topic” all the time. Should a chemistry teacher only be allowed to talk about chemistry? A Spanish teacher only about Spanish? A trigonometry teacher only about trigonometry? This represents a sadly narrow view of education. The most valuable lessons are often off-topic, like when the shop teacher gave us tips on how to pick up women and when our American history teacher showed us how to use credit cards to open locked doors and when our seventh-grade civics teacher taught us how to drive (or at least left her keys unattended at lunch).

The other assertion implicit here is that “there are certain topics that public school teachers should not discuss, even if they are true.” Now, I’d be with you if you’d left out the word “public.” In general, teachers probably shouldn’t be telling students about their sexual fetishes (although I once knew a fifth-grade Catholic-school teacher who did), regardless of where they teach. You can probably think up other examples.

But “is it religious or not” is a horrific litmus test to apply to our syllabi. We should be applying litmus tests like “is it true or not,” “is it useful or not,” and “is it funny or not.”

(Unless you’re equally zealous about amendments 2-10, I’m going to ignore the first amendment objection you’re already formulating.)

How can you teach World History without mentioning religion? How can you teach evolutionary theory with mentioning religion? How can you teach Dianetics without mentioning religion? You can’t, you can’t, and you can’t. And how can you effectively teach anything without injecting your opinion into it?

Now, I know what you’re thinking, “Joel wants Your Religion Is False to become part of the standard curriculum, and this sort of attitude makes it all the tougher for that to happen. He’s just talking his book, no pun intended.” Well, Joel’s got to eat!

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