June 9, 2021

"I teach students who recoil from a poem because it was written by a man. I teach students who approach texts in search of the oppressor."

"I teach students who see inequities in texts that have nothing to do with power. Students have internalized the message that this is the way we read and think about the world, and as a result, they fixate on power and group identity. This fixation has stunted their ability to observe and engage with the full fabric of human experience in our literature. In my professional opinion, the school is failing to encourage healthy habits of mind, essential for growth, such as intellectual curiosity, humility, honesty, reason, and the capacity to question ideas and consider multiple perspectives.... Understandably, these students have found comfort in their moral certainty, and so they have become rigid and closed-minded, unable or unwilling to consider alternative perspectives. These young students have no idea that the school has placed ideological blinders on them."

Writes Dana Stangel-Plowe, resigning from her job as an English teacher at an expensive New Jersey private school.

The full text of her letter is here. I first read about this in The Daily Mail: "Black Columbia professor calls for 'truly antiracist parents' to pull their kids out of $52k New Jersey school after teacher quit over critical race theory lessons and says only this will stop the 'misguided quest'/John McWhorter, an associate professor of English and comparative literature at Columbia University, tweeted his support for Dana Stangel-Plowe."

The Mail quotes McWhorter's tweet: "All hail Dana Stangel-Plowe, who has resigned from the Dwight-Englewood School, which teaches students 'antiracism' that sees life as nothing but abuse of power, and teaches that cringing, hostile group identity against oppression is the essence of a self."

1 comment:

Ann Althouse said...

LA_Bob writes:

Sooooooo much to say about this situation. Among other things, I think of the classic slogan from the United Negro College Fund (is it still called that?): "A mind is a terrible thing to waste".

But I'm also thinking about markets. This is a private school. People pay good money to send their children to Dwight-Englewood School. They're buying a service which results in a product: their "educated" offspring. Do they approve of this product? Do they understand what the product is, how it "works out"? Do they even give it a second thought or give a damn at all?

Like any private business, this school has to keep its customers happy. If the parents are happy, maybe theirs are the minds terribly wasted. On the other hand, as "100% of students from this school go on to attend a 4-year college" (https://www.niche.com/k12/dwight-englewood-school-englewood-nj/), maybe it's a hard-nosed, pragmatic investment.