Better Learning for NYC Through Modernity
by Anthony Stasi
Apr 01, 2015 | 5723 views | 0 0 comments | 59 59 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A few years ago, a Straussian - fancy for new-age, neo-conservative - political theory lecturer at Yale named Steven B. Smith started posting his lessons on political theory online.

As any graduate student in political science will tell you, a healthy dose of political theory (a.k.a. political philosophy) is always a part of that type of curriculum. You want to discuss John Boehner and Barack Obama, but first you need to get through Thomas Hobbes and John Locke.

After taking classes in my non-Yale program, I would sit with my laptop and listen to a lesson by Smith, typing relevant notes as he went along. It gave me a big advantage. Today, Smith has his Yale lectures in podcast form, and it’s a great way to learn from an Ivy League professor for free.

This may be a way to improve public school education, where often times the classroom can be distracting. A classroom is a live setting, which means anything can happen. Teachers can have bad days, other students can act up, there are fire drills where you never quite get the students’ attention back, etc.

A round-up podcast in particular subjects, such as government or English literature, is a way to give students multiple ways of grabbing a lesson.

In New York City public education, there has always been this challenge that comes from such a diversity of skills among students. There are high achievers and not-so-high achievers.

This is a way to make more of the lesson available for all of them – if they want it. Hopefully some teachers are tapping into this already. My attitude was “if it's good enough for Yale students, why not me?” and from there I started listening in on these lectures.

If it’s good enough for Yale, it’s good enough for our students.

GOP's Doubting Young

A recent poll says that most of Republicans who are skeptical about global warming are college-age Republicans. This is not really news.

We want college students to challenge theories, but college Republicans may be on the doubting side of global warming based more on politics than what they think is actually happening with the atmosphere.

Many college-age Democrats and Republicans get involved in local political campaigns. For young Republicans, they know there are more votes for them to capture if they are skeptical about the issue. This may explain the poll numbers.

According to Gallup, about 74 percent of Republican college graduates are skeptical about what they hear in the media about global warming. This, however, is not to say that they are not open to believing there is a change in the climate, or that it is a man-made change.

It may mean that they see no political value in siding with those who are sounding the alarms. Young Republicans also generally have little faith in the mainstream media.

Along with that poll data, there is the risk of respondents saying what they want the poll results to be and not what they may actually think. Answering that they believe in global warming might be, to them, a way of giving props to the opposition. In today’s polarized political environment, that just does not happen.

Of course, the poll data may be spot-on and there may well be a large number of college-educated GOP-ers who seriously doubt the evidence about global warming. The numbers (74 percent) suggest, from a political science standpoint, that there is more to that number than just skepticism.

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