SOAS again

It quotes black undergraduates who say their academic progress is being hampered by older white professors who cannot relate to them. “Both of my tutors are white men. How can I have a rapport and feel comfortable talking to a 60-year-old white man?” asks one. “Our experiences of life are so different and you’re coming from completely different places.”

You’re going to have to do a bit of work then aren’t you matey? This is an ageing and still largely white society. So you’re going to have to figure out how to relate to old white guys at some point.

Err, right, right,

They are said to be the founding fathers of Western philosophy, whose ideas underpin civilized society.

But students at a prestigious London university are demanding that such figures as Plato, Descartes and Immanuel Kant be largely dropped from the curriculum because they are white.

The School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS)’s student union is insisting that when studying philosophy, “the majority of philosophers on our courses” should be from Africa and Asia.

They say it is part of wider campaign to “decolonize” the university, as they seek to “address the structural and epistemological legacy of colonialism.”

And how colonialist is it to come to the old colonial capital city to study those dusty, possibly dusky, outposts?

A truly non-colonial education would take place in Harare, Yangon, wouldn’t it?


What we need now is a commitment to a much greater – and universal – equality of outcomes. Is that a liberal value?

From our ever popular Questions in the Guardian we can answer series.

Not how the argument is constructed:

Liberalism stands for the freedom of the individual and the sanctity of individual liberties – as well as the openness and plurality that Freedland prefers to celebrate. The right of the individual to freedom from regulation or restraint is the notion that has driven globalisation, market fundamentalism and our present, unfettered, toxic form of capitalism. And those are the forces that have stripped many of the Trump voters in the rust belt and Brexit supporters in the north of England of their security, their dignity and their hope for their kids. Clinton (both), Blair, Cameron, Obama, all social liberals, all drank the neoliberal Kool Aid. The failure of progressives to sever social liberalism from its economic counterpart has led us to this crisis (Clegg, take note). Brexit and Trump are in many ways the fruits of liberalism.

Apparently liberalism means you can fuck anyone you want but not buy an apple from them. Odd view of the world really.

This is very fun

DeVos is a strong advocate of charter schools and allowing parents to use vouchers for private and religious schools in the name of “choice”. Teachers’ unions condemned her appointment as a blow to equality of opportunity.

Definitely going to piss off the educational establishment – good. But what’s really fun is the Guardian’s use of the “” around choice. They can’t even admit to themselves that it really does just mean choice.

Lily Eskelsen García, president of the National Education Association, said: “Her efforts over the years have done more to undermine public education than support students. She has lobbied for failed schemes, like vouchers – which take away funding and local control from our public schools – to fund private schools at taxpayers’ expense. These schemes do nothing to help our most vulnerable students while they ignore or exacerbate glaring opportunity gaps.

“She has consistently pushed a corporate agenda to privatize, de-professionalize and impose cookie-cutter solutions to public education. By nominating Betsy DeVos, the Trump administration has demonstrated just how out of touch it is with what works best for students, parents, educators and communities.”

The thing is Lily, charter schools and vouchers really, really, work, in gaining a better education for poor children.

Quelle surprise

Students at some of the UK’s most prestigious universities ‘live in crime hotspots where violence, sex offences and robberies are highest’
Students at the LSE are among the most likely to live in a crime hotspot

We could of course say that students cause crime – but beyond a bit of drunk and disorderly, few spliffs and a bit of leering that’s not really true.

But students are poor and poor areas have more crime…..

It’s a reasonable enough argument…..

New grammar schools are needed to stop rich families dominating best state schools through ‘selection by house price’, says Theresa May

Just last week we had a report that houses in catchment areas of good schools cost £50k more.

Of course, the response from the left will just be that we must have busing to overcome economic segregation.


This is why Jeremy Corbyn’s proposed national education service, even while its Maoist overtones are so strong, is so impressive. It starts with a principle that sounds like common sense: education is a public good.

No, no it isn’t. It is rivalrous and excludable, it is not a public good.

It is entirely possible that the effects of education are a public good. Adam Smith certainly argued that being part of a generally numerate and literate society is such and advocated public support of primary education as a result. This does not mean that tertiary education is the same though of course.

And yes, this is important. Public goods may be righteously subsidised. Private goods very much less so. And it’s also true that subsidy might not be the correct method of promoting public goods.

We’ve all an interest in the public good of innovation. But we don’t promote that through subsidy, we do it through patent and copyright.

Zoe’s starting the economic argument in entirely the wrong manner.

Close the Polytechnics!

One in four graduates in work a decade after leaving university in 2004 is earning only around £20,000 a year, according to a new study.

Too many graduating from places it’s not worth graduating from.

Shut ’em down.

It would be seriously interesting for a country to roll back the years here. What really would be the effect of having only 10-15%, again, of the age cohort going into tertiary academic education? I think it would be beneficial…..

Not entirely sure this will work you know

School pupils are to be given an extra week off school in the autumn to help parents with the cost of expensive holidays.

Brighton and Hove City Council has announced that the traditional week-long autumn half-term break will be doubled for state schools from October 16 2017.

Councillors hope changing the school holiday timetable will allow parents the flexibility to take cheaper breaks outside the expensive peak summer holiday period.

Holidays are more expensive because the schools are off. Extending the period that the schools are off will extend the period that holidays are expensive.

Of course, if the school systems started to stagger their holidays then that would work but that requires the sort of coordination I wouldn’t expect from British local politicians. Although the French seem to manage it easily enough….

The troubles of American life

Maximo Cortez has worked part time for Starbucks in Houston, Texas on and off over the last eight years, first while in school and now to save up some money. Cortez, a transgender man, is trying to accumulate enough to afford top surgery, something that will cost him $10,000. Meanwhile, he also needs to pay back student loans, pay his car expenses, and try to afford his apartment.

“Giving everyone a 5 percent wage increase, from barista to management, that’s a great step forward,” he said. But for him, currently making $8 an hour, that increase won’t mean much. “It won’t even be a dollar,” he noted.

That degree was useful then, yes?

My word this really is a surprise

a. A 2-year degree from the Community College of Denver in Dental Hygiene has an ROI of $612,991, which are the additional earnings a graduate can expect to earn over 20 years compared to a high school graduate. Average first-year wages are about $61,000 and the cost of the degree is less than $16,000.

b. A 4-year degree from the University of Colorado-Boulder in Women’s Studies has an ROI of only $173,545, at a cost of more than $92,000 and estimated first-year earnings of only $23,461.

Actually, I’m amazed here. The Women’s Studies degree still has a positive ROI? It won’t when we include opportunity costs….

Shocking, horrors, eh?

From a PR email:

Eight in 10 U.S. adults with student loans (81 percent) say they made financial or personal sacrifices because of the amount of their loans.

Presumably it would be better if everyone had to struggle with their tax bills to pay for the university educations of other people?

Apples don’t fall far from trees, do they?

Saskia Sassen:

Here is one local version of this fighting back. It needs to be expanded and recognized as significant. It is the work of re-localising components of “the” economy. Re-localising in this case becomes a fight against the corporatising of everything: do we really have to depend on corporations to have a cup of coffee, to buy vegetables, to get bookshelves? Any neighbourhood is likely to have local talent that could handle this. We must re-localise whatever we can re-localise. This will inevitably be a partial project as many of our more complex needs can only be met via complex knowledge systems (e.g. a hospital). But we must maximise the replacement of franchises by work done in our or other neighbourhoods in our cities and towns. A franchise by definition takes out part of the consumption capacity of a neighbourhood out of that neighbourhood and onto central headquarters. We must maximise the recirculation of our spending in our localities, and that means a collective effort to meet as much of our needs locally. I see in this type of effort a first step that can lead to other efforts, notably a new kind of politics.


In most cases, fascists discouraged or banned foreign trade; fascists believed that too much international trade would make the national economy dependent on international capital, and therefore vulnerable to international economic sanctions. Economic self-sufficiency, known as autarky, was a major goal of most fascist governments.

About Saskia Sassen:

Sassen was born in The Hague, Netherlands in 1947. In 1948 Sassen’s parents, Willem Sassen and Miep van der Voort, escaped to Argentina and the family lived in Buenos Aires.[1] Her father was a Dutch collaborator with the Nazis, a Nazi journalist and a member of the Waffen-SS. In the 1950s Willem Sassen was close to Adolf Eichmann when both were living in Argentina and she recalls him visiting her childhood home.

The sins of the father do not descend to the daughter of course but her economic ideas don’t seem to have gone far from that tree, do they?


Or maybe there really is a time to just give up?

After 46 attempts to pass the Class 10 board exam, Shiv Charan Yadav hopes that this is the year that he will finally fulfil his dream.

According to a Times of India report, Shiv Charan from Khohari village in Alwae first took the Rajasthan State Board exam in 1968 but failed. He has been trying ever since but hasn’t been able to secure an all pass. The 77-year-old says that each time it so happens that if he manages to pass few subjects he fails in some others. In 1995, Shiv Charan came close to passing but mathematics turned out his nemesis. Last year Social sciences came in between Shiv Charan and his dream.

Shiv Charan was raised by his uncle and other family members after his parents passed away at an early age. The Government’s old age pension and religious offerings at a nearby temple are keeping this Septuagenarian going now. Though some villagers make fun of Shiv Charan’s insistence of passing the board exams, others admire his perseverance and gift him books and pens.

Shiv Charan had vowed not to marry till he passes class 10 and has held on to his vow. This 77-year old bachelor believes that he will pass this year and will find a bride.

It’s that last bit…..

And at what point do we rally and burn down this ivory tower?

A Christian postgraduate student has been expelled from his course, effectively ending his chances of a career as a social worker, for voicing opposition to gay marriage in a Facebook discussion.

Felix Ngole, a 38-year-old father of four, expressed support for Kim Davis, the county clerk from Kentucky in the US who was jailed for refusing to issue marriage licences after the introduction of same-sex unions in September last year.

He argued that homosexual activity is against the teaching of the Bible, quoting a verse from Leviticus describing it as an “abomination”.

Cue the usual jokes about burning those who wear drip dry shirts while eating shrimp. However:

The post, from his private Facebook account, was part of a discussion thread in which other users voiced their opinions on all sides of the debate.

Entirely private life note.

It was not until two months later that he was summoned to a disciplinary hearing at Sheffield University after a fellow student complained about his post.

He said he was initially not even told what he was accused of doing. He was eventually told that it involved breaching social work guidelines on “personal conduct” and “bringing the profession into disrepute”.

At a further hearing, a university “fitness to practise” panel concluded that he was entitled to his opinion on the issue of gay marriage but that there was a danger he “may have caused offence to some individuals” by voicing it.

They concluded that, even though he was not yet even qualified as a social worker, his comment on the Facebook thread would affect his ability to operate in the profession.
As a result he was effectively expelled from the university, ordered to hand in his student ID and even his library card.


In a letter expelling Mr Ngole from the university, a departmental official said: “Members of the committee expressed serious concerns about the level of insight you had demonstrated with regards [sic] to the comments you posted on Facebook.

“The committee were clear to point out that their decision is not based on your views but on your act of publicly posting those views such that it will have an effect on your ability to carry out a role as a social worker.

“Members were in agreement that this action was an extremely poor judgement on your part and had transgressed boundaries which are not deemed appropriate for someone entering the social work profession.

“It was their belief that this may have caused offence to some individuals.”

So what is it that we do with this university? Immediate thoughts include a three foot metal file with which we roger them sideways. Possibly a large cheese grater. But upon consideration I feel that only burning the place to the ground, selling the faculty into bondage and then ploughing the ground with salt will do.

Academia Hallun Delenda Est

We are, after all, at war with these people, they pose a grave threat to our civilisation.

Bit weak really

Harvard University, America’s oldest and most prestigious higher education establishment, is to stop calling heads of its halls of residence “house masters” because of perceived slavery connotations.
The move comes in response to student complaints and means staff in charge of dormitories will now be referred to as faculty deans. The change will come into effect immediately, the Harvard Crimson student newspaper reported.
Michael Smith, the dean of Harvard’s arts and sciences, explained the name change in a statement that denied any connection between the previous job title and slavery.
“Titles can and should change when such a change serves our mission,” he wrote. “I want to emphasise that a decision to change does not necessarily mean that what came before was wrong. I have not been shown any direct connection between the term House Master and the institution of slavery.”

You’re wrong, we know you’re wrong, you can see you’re wrong but we’ll give in anyway for the sake of an easy life.

This is how that moron from yesterday gets to claim that Cleopatra was black African.