Friday, November 16, 2007

Some Hope on Campus
Maimon Schwarzschild

On a more hopeful note about campus life, a friend who is a first year undergraduate at a major midwestern state university reports on her Irish history class: a rigorous class with a wide-ranging and sophisticated reading list and a professor who "strives to be scrupulously fair to all the bitterly contending sides".  Despite - or because of? - the professor's intellectual seriousness and integrity, his classes are always oversubscribed.

Here are two questions from the Irish History midterm:

1. The extent of the influence of the Catholic
church in Ireland has been and still is the subject
of much controversy. Evaluate this issue in relation
to the following: (a) the Fenian movement in the
1860s; (b) the rise of the Home Rule movement under
Isaac Butt in the 1870s; and (c) the fall of Charles
Stewart Parnell in 1890-91.

2. What explains the appeal of Fenianism in Ireland
and Irish America in the late 1850s and the 1860s?
Why did Fenianism have less appeal among certain
groups and in certain regions in Ireland than it had
among other groups and in other areas?

Real teaching and real learning are evidently still being committed - at least at the university in question.  It's a state university with a rather left-wing tradition, by the way, going back many decades.

Whether a student could find anything comparable at less distinguished places like the University of Delaware, or on quite a few other campuses where political lunacy and "diversity" bullying are the order of the day, is at least questionable.

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Maimon Schwarzschild
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Comments

"Evaluate this issue": tut, tut. Is "the issue" the extent or the controversy? They are not exactly the same thing. How does one "evaluate" an issue - does it just mean "discuss"?

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