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Misadventures in Multicultural Studies Indoctrination

Jeff’s post the other day about the questionable workshop at Brown University came to mind recently when I saw a very far-left Facebook friend link to this article by a professor named Warren Blumenfeld who had just retired from a position as a professor of education at Iowa State University.  The article contains the professor’s reflections and gives voice to both his lamentations and his indignity about those students who took his class who were not won over to his worldview and who had the temerity to announce that fact in their final papers.

The course was entitled “Multicultural Foundations in Schools and Society,” and Blumenfeld describes it in the following terms:

I base the course on a number of key concepts and assumptions, including how issues of power, privilege, and domination within the United States center on inequitable social divisions regarding race, ethnicity, socioeconomic class, sex, gender identity, sexual identity, religion, nationality, linguistic background, physical and mental ability/disability, and age. I address how issues around social identities impact generally on life outcomes, and specifically on educational outcomes. Virtually all students registered for this course, which is mandatory for students registered in the Teacher Education program, are pre-service teachers.

In other words, this is a required course in “multicultural studies” indoctrination.  If the course were voluntary, it would be a slightly different situation, but as a required course, it amounts to an example of the sort of thing that conservatives can easily point to as illustrating the left-wing biases of academia.

Professor Blumenfeld is particularly alarmed by the case of two female students who tell him quite boldly that the course has not changed their socially conservative Christian worldview:

On a final course paper, one student wrote that, while she enjoyed the course, and she felt that both myself and my graduate assistant — who had come out to the class earlier as lesbian — were very knowledgeable and good professors with great senses of humor, nonetheless, she felt obliged to inform us that we are still going to Hell for being so-called “practicing homosexuals.” Another student two years later wrote on her course paper that homosexuality and transgenderism are sins in the same category as stealing and murder. This student not only reiterated that I will travel to Hell if I continued to act on my same-sex desires, but she went further in amplifying the first student’s proclamations by self-righteously insisting that I will not receive an invitation to enter Heaven if I do not accept Jesus as my personal savior since I am a Jew, regardless of my sexual behavior. Anyone who doubts this, she concluded, “Only death will tell!”

Now while we might question the wisdom of both students in advertising the heresy represented by their beliefs so boldly in a graded assignment,  I think we might also be heartened by their courage in being true to their faith, even if we do not agree with all of the particulars of their worldview.

The professor, however, is shocked and appalled, and the rest of the essay is his attempt to reconcile–through reference to one leftist theory and tract after another–what he calls “our campus environment, one that emboldens some students to notify their professor and graduate assistant that their final destination will be the depths of Hell.”  Notice his word choice, there.  The problem is with the “campus environment” which “emboldens some students.”  It seems like a foreign idea to this professor to think that a university could be a place for the free and open exchange of ideas, especially those ideas that are unpopular.  I trust we will not find him quoting Voltaire or Jefferson anytime soon.

No, instead what we get is a description of and a reflection on a course that sounds like it could have been lifted straight from  the pages of Paolo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed, albeit with a more contemporary reading list.  While the professor uses the (more…)