William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

University Drops Math, May Add Diversity Requirement

newt

“How much is the cube root of -169?”

“Race is a social construct and quotas must exist to increase the proportion of people of color.”

“Correct. Question two: Describe the law of cosines.”

“Sodomy is healthy, and those who engage in it should have demonstrations of Pride.”

“Correct! Congratulations! You have just passed Wayne State University’s new mandatory Diversity of Math Requirement. Go forth now into the world fully prepared as one indoctrinated in the State’s official religion.”

Headline of today’s post is not wrong: “Wayne State Drops Math Requirement, May Add Diversity Requirement“. It’s not yet a done deal, and the bracing air of sanity might yet waft through the hallowed halls of Wayne State. But don’t bet on it.

“We are proposing the creation of specific ‘Diversity’ courses, with students required to take one course in this designation,” said a document from the General Education Reform Committee…

The committee report said, “These courses will provide opportunities for students to explore diversity at the domestic level and consider the ways in which it intersects with real world challenges at the local, national and/or global level.”

Now there’s nothing like exploring diversity at the domestic level, though some of us still prefer it in the wild. But eliminate math?

In announcing the change in mathematics, the university said, “This decision was made largely because the current (math) requirement is at a level already required by most high school mathematics curriculum.”

Committee co-chair Monica Brockmeyer…added, “We still continue to support mathematics at Wayne State.”

By “support” she means “set aside”, but then English isn’t a high priority at Wayne State either. One paper reports Brockmeyer skims $176,760 a year from Wayne’s coffers, and it would be both scurrilous and unwarranted to suggest she wants students ignorant of math so that they don’t see how preposterously large this number is.

The committee’s proposal for the new curriculum recommended replacing the math requirement with a quantitative requirement and creating “quantitative experience courses.”

“Professor Brockmeyer? I feel, like, that numbers, like, are hard?”

“You have just Experienced the Quantitative, dear student. Go in peace.”

Even if it’s true that students arrive at Wayne teeming with a lot of news about the binomial theorem, which they aren’t, they are positively leaking with the Diversity that’s been crammed into them since birth. So in order to squeeze more Diversity into their fragile, sensitive minds, which is a goal most noble, it’s going to take more than removing mathematics. We must attack this problem with all the enthusiasm of a Jungian lobotomist.

Mathematics is intertwined so closely with Science that the two are inseparable, which makes choosing to eliminate physics, chemistry, and the like easy. Besides, doubtless operating via contemplation of Diversity, governments are defining Science these days, and suggesting it should be illegal to dissent from its definitions, which eliminates the need for any but token scientists. Anyway, too much of science and math are stained white and drenched in testosterone. Definitely not Diverse.

And then the same charges of non-Diverse manly Caucasianity are justly leveled at English, Western History, Theater, Music, Philosophy, and so on. These would have to go: nothing but their elimination would be fair to Diverse non-white, non-males. I mean, after you cut Aristotle, Anselm, Albertus Magnus, Aquinas, Augustine, Anaxgora—and these are just the ‘A’s!—and other demographically challenged philosophers, who is left?

I’ll tell you. People like Barbara L. Whitten, who would shoulder aside inclined planes and resistors wired in parallel and have students study “Feminist Physics“. She said, “My feminist training has taught me that science is a socially constructed artifact of human culture.” Well, and so it is. And so is Diversity. Which, though, is better?

Diversity, of course. There is no other possible answer.

A reminder: the only solution is to nuke universities from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.

Update Friend of the blog sent this:

14 Comments

  1. A funny thing will happen is going to happen on the way to the brave, new future… A lot of these professors, even those in non-mathy fields, will be out of a job—especially if the notion of “everything I needed to learn I learned in my sophomore year” catches on.

    I just wonder how soon it will be when diplomas will be awarded with the birth certificate. It really would make things much, much easier, and save a lot of administrative effort.

  2. Diversity training seems to have had little effect if you look at the 2013 National Survey of Student Engagement results.

    Q: During the current school year, about how often have you done the following: Included diverse perspectives (political, religious, racial/ethnic, gender, etc.) in course discussions or assignments?

    Responses of 125,883 first-year (FY) students compared to 187,512 senior (SR) students give the following results:
    1. Never – FY = 10% SR = 11%
    2. Sometimes – FY = 39% SR = 34%
    3. Often – FY = 33% SR = 32%
    4. Very often – FY = 17% SR = 24%

    This is not a longitudinal study so FY and SR are different groups. The question is ambiguous (perspectives) and broad (could be arguments instead of discussions). Briggs won’t like it on principle. But it is what it is and suggests that multiple years of “diversity” influence didn’t much move the needle in 2013.

  3. One often encounters the word “intersects” in today’s newspeak lexicon. Its use is de rigueur in feminist, diversity and critical theory circles. In a world where math and science are increasingly less understood by the average person, I wonder what they think it means?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G2y8Sx4B2Sk

  4. How does one jump from

    We propose that specific math requirements be determined by the majors. The major requirement will satisfy the University Core requirement. We also propose an alternative pathway for students who’s major does not require a specific math course. We feel that including such a course is important because the ability to reason in a quantitative fashion is an essential life skill that is necessary for individuals to understand and engage with a broad spectrum of societal issues.”

    to the conclusion that

    “Wayne State Drops Math Requirement, May Add Diversity Requirement“.

    ?

    The reasons such proposal, imo, include the reason that Briggs keeps emphasizing there are no math formulas in his book. Whatever courses are proposed will depend on the instructor’s ability to deliver. I have attended qualitative teaching workshops given by other professors; you’d be amazed how good such course can possibly be.

    And perhaps if your children have developed an aversion to mathematics during K-12, you might appreciate what the university is trying to do for you children.

  5. Change “qualitative teaching” to “quantitative reasoning reaching”.

  6. Do they all learn the same diversity? Maths is hard because there’s so many different numbers and ways to do things with them.

  7. FACT CHECK: The Detroit Free Press tells a radically different story from what Briggs portrayed based, apparently, on someone else’s sensationalized article, itself a masterpiece of half-truths, cherry-picked facts, and crucial omissions of relevant facts (i.e. “The truth, but NOT the whole truth,…”). Wayne State published its plan in detail — and eliminating math is clearly a sensationalized misrepresentation.

    Here’s what a cursory fact check reveals:

    “The university is leaving it up to the individual departments to decide whether math will be a required part of a degree’s curriculum [and if so, which courses will be required by the given curriculum].”

    See: http://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/detroit/2016/06/12/wayne-state-drops-math-general-ed-requirement/85648592/

    And, from Wayne State the explicit, written (holding themselves accountable), intent is to create quantitative reasoning skills (far more than the implication by citing an additional diversity requirement) for the general education programs:

    “We propose that specific math requirements be determined by the majors. The major requirement will satisfy the University Core requirement. We also propose an alternative pathway for students who’s major does not require a specific math course. We feel that including such a course is important because the ability to reason in a quantitative fashion is an essential life skill that is necessary for individuals to understand and engage with a broad spectrum of societal issues.

    “To this end, we propose the creation of Quantitative experience (QE) courses to satisfy the core quantitative requirement for students whose major does not require a specific mathematics or statistics course. These courses are intended to develop in students a way of thinking that is based on the quantitative analysis of information that can be used to make connections and draw meaningful conclusions. This would include developing the ability to interpret quantitative representations of information (such as graphs and tables), and the ability to use quantitative information to communicate in a purposeful way.

    See: http://wayne.edu/engaging-gened/documents/overview_of_proposed_gened_revision.pdf

    Doesn’t it seem sensible that a nursing program and physics program might have different math requirements to meet the respective graduate’s employment needs — and the math requirements determined by the faculty of a given degree program would, respectively, be better than some distant university administrators imposing the same requirement across all programs? And isn’t it sensible from a marketing perspective that the university IS creating “math” skills for general education programs while framing them in non-threatening terms (those that gravitate to general ed are typically intimidated by “math” … but would be more receptive to much the same when presented in a less intimidating [to them] manner). A rose by any other name is still a rose…ditto for “math” by some other descriptive…

    That’s the university’s equivalent to someone ending the Fed’s Common Core and shifting education to the individual States.

    Is that really so bad?

    Note that many four-year degree programs have, due to needs in employment, shifted to five-year programs as programs needed to add courses to meet prospective employer demand … all while broad university-level “core” courses held firm or also increased. Cutting out the extraneous mandatory courses to focus on program-area specifics makes education more accessible, affordable, and gets the student to graduation and into the workforce with the specific background needed for a given profession. For those students going into a profession where specialization is a hallmark, they get there less academically “well-rounded” but they may start earning an income faster and with a lower tuition debt burden while starting equally competent to their more well-rounded, and indebted, peers.

    Note also that the U.S. economy has for decades been shifting from manufacturing to services; the Detroit Free Press reports that many universities are shifting their educational emphasis accordingly (though the article does not mention the long-term trend to services):

    “…”the majority of AAC&U member institutions continue to say that general education is more of a priority than it was five years ago, and they are much more likely to say they are placing greater emphasis on integration of knowledge, skills and application than on broad knowledge acquisition in their general education programs,”…

    “It’s most common, according to the survey, for a school’s general education program to have requirements in writing skills, critical thinking and quantitative reasoning skills, followed by knowledge of science, mathematics, humanities, global world cultures and social sciences.”

    These are just some of the trade-offs between changing real-world situations and how universities are adjusting to meet associated evolving employment needs.

    There’s always pros & cons to consider, should one care to expend the effort to thoughtfully consider them in broad context. That’s a choice, that requires considerably more effort than some cursory review allowing one to infer all sorts of ominous Liberal Left propaganda policies running amok.

    Unfortunately, facts & truth commonly don’t fit into a convenient, memorable, soundbite, and as such get short shrift in being reported.

    “A lie can travel halfway round the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”

  8. Gary in Erko,
    High-school math is not hard. STOP SPREADING THE RUMOR. 🙂

  9. “This would include developing the ability to interpret quantitative representations of information (such as graphs and tables).”

    Isn’t that something you learn in 3rd grade?
    https://www.ixl.com/math/grade-3/interpret-bar-graphs

  10. “Nuke’em from space!” that was funny.
    JH,
    High school or senior school mathS is fun.
    It’s the next part that’s a bore, you know, the difficult part.
    ……………
    Universities are slowly evolving into non academic institutions. Many have already pupated.

    They won’t need nuking from space. They can continue to mind the children.

    Real equivalents of the old universities will spring up. They will be exclusive and selective as the old ones were.

    They will be unpopular because they won’t be cool (like the old days) and they won’t offer courses of interest to most. They will have to be undertaken on a private basis. There are enough enthusiasts everywhere to start something of higher quality. Networking and recruiting of suitable intellectuals was never easier. I’m sure if not already that it’s going to happen. Such an enterprise need not be expensive to set up. However a philanthropist, if any still exist, might take an interest in such a project.

  11. If you graduated high school, and you paid any attention at all, you will find that a lot of the required courses (especially the first two years) in college are redundant. You may explore these subjects with a little more depth, but that’s about it. I was one of two student representatives in my college’s academic standards committee and was the president of the grading policy committee. I leaned toward stricter standards and a more difficult grading policy. Many students tried to get me to loosen up, but I’m not one to back down from something I feel strongly about. Just the same, I also took the position (none of this is new, by the way) that there should be less significance on core studies and more on majors – that the less a core had to do with a major the less it should matter if the student partook in that core. Though I strongly believe in a well-rounded classical liberal arts education, academic the strengths and weaknesses of the individual should be considered over arbitrary requirements. If you major in medicine and do well in math and science but can’t pick up a second language for the life of you, that inability to learn a second language should not be holding you back from becoming the next Ben Carson – and it certainly shouldn’t be a profiteering mechanism to rob your student loans.

    JMJ

  12. Ken: When I was in college, there were statistics courses for math majors and for psych majors. You can guess which was more “mathlike”.

    “framing them in non-threatening terms (those that gravitate to general ed are typically intimidated by “math”)” So we’re talking about sissy crybabies? If they can’t do the math, they don’t belong in college. You’d be amazed how many math-illiterate individuals have destroyed businesses because they “feel good about themselves and diversity” but can’t balance a checkbook.

    Yes, it is that bad.

    Nate: Judging from global warming “science”, not, that was not learned in 3rd grade.

    JMJ: Not any more. There’s considerable evidence that high school graduates are poor readers and poor at math. Employers complain about this frequently. Those “arbitrary” courses were there for a reason—though now that “it is good to be a Delta” is the mantra, I can see why illiterate students is useful. (You are commended for stricter standards.)

    All: This is really an argument that college is a place to party and stay young and irresponsible for another four or five years while getting Mom and Dad to pay or taking out loans you then try to get the government to write off. It’s little wonder that a college degree is becoming pretty much worthless. (For those who can still do math, compare the cost of the degree subtracted from lifetime earnings, assuming one actually works in the field they majored in.) Masters still have some prestige, as do PhD’s, but as time goes by and more and more get these degrees, the value decreases.

  13. Fr. John Rickert, FSSP

    June 21, 2016 at 6:22 pm

    “Who’s” should be “whose.”

    By the way, have you seen the 1895 A.D. 8th grade final exam from Salina, Kansas?

  14. Short of nuking em from orbit, there is one thing that could be attempted. Cultural Marxism / Progressivism exhibits every trait of a religion. (No, a deity is not required to have a religion.) So convince a Red State’s legislature to formalize that reality and declare it one. Now invoke the same “Establishment Clause” they used to drive every other religion from the public square. No more teaching of it in the State Uni, no government grant money for courses in it on private schools. Since you would be outlawing the entire block of discplines in one go, go ahead and grant a special exception to remove tenure from any professor who is only qualified to teach Cultural Marxism.

    Blammo, every * Studies course, department, etc. is gone.

    Now pass a law requiring an institution receiving government money to either outlaw all race or gender based housing, organizations, etc. or allow all. So there goes any rot that somehow escaped the Cultural Marxism purge.

    Buy an umbrella to keep the icky brain bits from the exploding heads from getting on you.

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