Recently, several “intellectuals” convened to deal with a problem so serious it could not be tackled by just one college professor. The question was this: How can professors stop an epidemic of students missing their examinations without jeopardizing student grades by resorting to point deductions?
The problem was so serious that the handful of intellectuals who first noticed the problem – and noticed others noticing the problem – sent out a mass email inviting others to attend a “brown bag” luncheon to brainstorm. They were searching for “solutions”, which would stop short of actually punishing students for missing their examinations.
I certainly have no problem with professors getting together to find “solutions” to difficult “problems.” But I do have a “problem” with the way these professors were characterizing their “problem.”
A better description of their “problem” – one that better reflects its magnitude – would sound something like this: How can we retain the secular/ progressive view of human nature, which is needed to justify secular/ progressive policies, in light of a wealth of evidence to the contrary?
The thoughts of the professors responding to the mass email were enlightening. One complained that she wanted to give her students the benefit of the doubt, but they constantly pushed and tested her. The more she withheld punishment, the more prevalent the undesirable behavior.
Another observed that the more often she does nice things for students, the more often they take advantage of her. She seemed perplexed by the fact that rewarding a missed exam with another administration, thus giving the student more time to prepare, led to more missed exams.
The dilemma of the perplexed professors highlights the fundamental difference between the conservative and the progressive views of human motivation. The former suggests that you can sometimes threaten to do bad things to people and expect good things in return. The latter suggests that you can promise to do good things for people and expect good things in return.
In the 1960s, our government began to put the progressive view of human nature to the test. We launched a War on Poverty in an effort to build a Great Society. Soon, we began to see mountains of data refuting the secular/ progressive view of human nature.
By the end of the first decade of our efforts to build a Great Society, crime in America had skyrocketed to unprecedented levels. The 1960s saw record increases in crime rates, which have yet to be broken.
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