Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Walden Outreach

Yesterday I met an impressive young lady from Walden High School. We had a conversation about Walden, my blog, my interactions with Walden students, political activism, etc... Our conversation was a bit disjointed because I was simultaneously trying to help other customers. But I realize that I need to clarify my thoughts on all things Walden, so here goes.

Walden students who read this should know that generalizations about Walden students are just that, generalizations, and therefore may or may not apply to a particular individual. Additionally, my opinions about Walden students have been influenced primarily by those most active in environmental politics. As such, I realize that my opinions have been influenced by a skewed sampling. Indeed, perhaps it is only a handful of Walden students who have influenced my views.

Moving on, I recognize that Walden students have the highest test scores among Racine's public schools. Given the dismal state of RUSD, this should be, and is, accomplished year after year.

Frequent readers of this blog have probably picked up on a general attitude towards elites. Generally I am not impressed. I find young elites to be among the most insufferable people on earth. By elites I mean people who behave as though they are so smart or accomplished and that because of their superiority they ought to have control over society's riff raff. I don't think that the most accomplished adult in the world should hold such an attitude, so naturally, children or young adults, with even fewer accomplishments, ought not to think they are bright enough to rule over others. Sadly, it seems Walden is something of a breeding ground for this type of elitism.

The only reason Walden students have come to my attention is because they have entered into the political fray. And they have entered it in such a way that I am concerned about the education that they are receiving. Invariably, young activists will claim that their activism has in no way been influenced by adults. I find this claim highly implausible. Inevitably, when weighing in on issues that divide us politically, our local youth activists always advocate for the leftist causes. If there was no influence by adults, the activism would more likely reflect the actual divide in our country, ie a more even split along liberal/conservative lines. My conclusion is that these students are unwitting victims of indoctrination. I don't blame them for this sad state of affairs, I blame the adults who are indoctrinating them.

So my mission is to help these students. I do so by challenging them concerning their activism. I understand that this does not always sit well with students, and that my approach or style might be a bit too combative at times. I have no interest in coddling students, nor do I want to provide an unwarrated boost to their self esteem. I will leave that to others. Rather, I think I can provide a service by challenging some of their beliefs. This is what good teachers should do.

The young lady I spoke to yesterday mentioned that the Walden student activists considered inviting me to one of their meetings. I would most definitely accept such an invitation if offered. I don't consider Walden students enemies in any way, shape, or form. I would thoroughly enjoy an opportunity to discuss differences of opinion on environmentalism, global warming, education, activism etc... with Walden students.

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

so if these students were "indoctrinated" by conservatives & other republicans, then it would be okay?

You only challenge "leftist" thought Denis, conservative ideals go without question on your blog. So with that, anyone who believes in ideals other than conservatism is wrong or subjecting to themselves to "indoctrination"?

If you were really serious and genuinely concerned you'd challenge these young minds to truly think independently, not just lock-step drones for conservatism. Ideals and thinking should be questioned and examined no matter which side of the aisle it comes from.

Denis Navratil said...

Anon, I don't think indoctrination is OK under any circumstances and I am not sure what it is that made you believe otherwise. As to your charge that conservative ideas go unchallenged, the whole point of this blog is to challenge and to be challenged by others. You don't expect to argue with myself I hope.

Denis Navratil said...

Last sentence should read: "You don't expect me to argue with myself I hope."

BradK said...

Denis,

Surely it's not a surprise that more liberal and leftist activism exists in the academic world than conservative or right-ist (is that a word)?

Of course it should be challenged. And to your point, because you generally speaking will take right-ist (still not sure if that's a word) position, there's little value to challenging a more conservative approach from a school (etc).

That having been said, I argue with myself all the time. No I don't. Yes... yes I do.

Drat... I think I'm agreeing with you again, nullifying the need for me to post anything.

Must be a slow day in sports news.

http://musingsofbradk.blogspot.com

Denis Navratil said...

Brad, you couldn't be more right... or is it wrong?

I had a conversation with someone yesterday who suggested that young people are naturally lefties. There is even a famous saying that goes something like "if you are young and conservative you have no heart and if you are old and liberal you have no brain." I am not so sure. I think young people are naturally idealistic, but that doesn't make them neccessarily lefties.... unless of course you believe liberalism is the only path to an idealistic society. Brad and whomever, please share your thoughts on the subject.

Denis Navratil said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TeshaNaquin said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I ask you what is wrong with working and striving for an idealistic world?
It means these students are working for something greater and positive... working towards a perfect world. Based on the ideals from the "heart" of youth that you had mentioned.

I doubt we can ever come to a 'perfect' world. How ever why not fight for it? Why not try our hardest to get there?

Denis Navratil said...

I have nothing against striving for ideals anon. I am idealistic as well. What I am saying anon is that idealism and liberalism/progressivism/whatever you want to call itism are not synonymous. In other words, a conservative could also be an idealist. The job of thinking people is to detirmine what our ideals should be and how best to get there. I have limited or zero faith in the "heart" alone getting us to where we want to be. The result too often is the pursuit of fine ideals with a bad strategy and even worse outcomes.

Denis Navratil said...

Anon, to concretize my theoretical point, I will point out a previous posting concerning alternative energy. The ideal of clean energy appeals to me very much, as it does to the Walden enviromental group. But a study showed that such a pursuit may well result in massive deforrestation. I gave this as an example of an idealistic pursuit that could actually do the opposite of what is intended. There are many many examples one could point to, for example, the banning of DDT may have saved a few birds but millions of people have died from the resulting outburst of malaria. Good intentions do not always produce good outcomes. That is what - among other things - that I am trying to get accross to Walden students and anyone else who might read this blog.

Anonymous said...

denis, regarding your 8:39 post, so what elements of conservatism do you challenge or question?

Anonymous said...

This is a celebrated article as they all are. I bring into the world been wondering nearly this as some culture now. Its vast to note down this info. You are objective and balanced.

BradK said...

Anon 9:24,

Think of it like in Debate Club in school... Denis' position is more toward the conservative side. I believe any conservative idea / position is up for debate on his blog. I would put to you that if you were toward the liberal side, you would be the one challenging Denis' to critically think and respond to a conservative idea. I believe Denis' has stated several times he is open to that type of response, and encourages it.

Granted, if there was a conservative point / statement that Denis did want to put up for debate, he would do so as well, and would expect challenge that direction. But it's his blog, he can pretty much do what he wants :).

Of course, I'm being a bit lofty in that I'm speaking for Denis, so Mr. D, please correct me if I am wrong.

Caledonication said...
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Caledonication said...

I have heard the saying, but slightly differently.

If you are under thirty and not liberal, you don't have a heart. If you are over thirty and not a conservative, you don't have a brain.

My take? Having an open mind is fine, as long as it is not so open that your brains fall out.

It is so ironic when kiddies talk about having idealistic, open minds; yet reguritate the very pudding they've been spoon fed. Yes anon, I said SPOON FED; by your teachers, by the media, by your government. Your entire identity has been shrink wrapped on you and you know nothing else. Yet, you all continue to talk about your open minds.


Anon says:
"I ask you what is wrong with working and striving for an idealistic world?"


What is an "idealistic world"? What does that mean anyway? You are asking, "what is wrong with working to have grand thoughts about the planet"? Idealists are by definition, legends in their own minds.

Anon says:
It means these students are working for something greater and positive... working towards a perfect world. Based on the ideals from the "heart" of youth that you had mentioned.


Interesting. Explain to us what this "something" greater and positive is. Then we can determine if this is an ideal. Hey wait... when did "ideals" became the new word for "values"? Ohhhh that's right, when conservatives talked about "values", that's when we had to stop using that naughty word. Also, in the quote regarding "heart", it is referring to emotion. By your twisted use "Based on the ideals from the "heart" of youth", you are presupposing that the quote means that if you are over thirty you don't have "compassion". The quote, which is well understood by mature minds, means that youth tend to think only with the heart, because they have not yet developed the wisdom to think beyond their emotions.

Anon says:
I doubt we can ever come to a 'perfect' world. How ever why not fight for it? Why not try our hardest to get there?


Fight for a perfect world? By who's definition and by what method? What are you saying? You sound like a cheeseball politician.

Here. You might like this. Just keepin' it real.

I'd like to buy the world a home
And furnish it with love
Grow apple trees and honey bees
And snow white turtle doves.

I'd like to teach the world to sing
In perfect harmony
I'd like to buy the world a Coke
And keep it company
That's the real thing.

I'd like to teach the world to sing
In perfect harmony
I'd like to buy the world a Coke
And keep it company
That's the real thing

What the world wants today
Coca-Cola (background)
Is the real thing

What the world wants today
Coca-Cola (background)
Is the real thing

I'd like to teach the world to sing
Sing with me (background)
In perfect harmony
I'd like to buy the world a Coke
And keep it company
That's the real thing

I'd like to teach the world to sing
In perfect harmony
I'd like to buy the world a Coke
And keep it company
That's the real thing.

What the world wants today
Coca-Cola (background)
Is the real thing

What the world wants today
Coca-Cola (background)
Is the real thing

Now doesn't that feel good?
*Man I'm thirsty.*

Anonymous said...

my point has been illustrated. Denis doesn't question anything that eminates from the right.
If it's from the right, he doesn't even question it.

Denis as you state, "I don't think indoctrination is OK under any circumstances".

Is the fact that you only champion and promote, unquestionably, conservative view points another form of indoctrination?

Denis Navratil said...

All you have illustrated anon is an inability to grasp a simple concept. I use this blog to present my own point of view. Then I allow, even encourage, challenges to my view. I won't use the site to argue with myself. Why can't you understand this?

Denis Navratil said...

Welcome back Caledon. Where have you been?

Denis Navratil said...

All you have illustrated anon is an inability to grasp a simple concept. I use this blog to present my own point of view. Then I allow, even encourage, challenges to my view. I won't use the site to argue with myself. Why can't you understand this?

Anonymous said...

"Arguing" with oneself and analyzing ones thought process and ideals are two different things.

So you're of the mind set that you are incapable of questioning or challenging ideals you believe in?

Anonymous said...

i guess you are.

Denis Navratil said...

Anon, I think you are looking for a stream of political consciousness blog. Look elsewhere.