Monday, February 15, 2010

Tom Crafts Mission Statement that will likely be voted on by Board of Trustees

As expected, Tom finally released a mission statement which will likely come before the board for approval. Take a deep breath, clear your head, and prepare to be infuriated.

Founded in 1853, Shimer College, The Great Books College of Chicago, is an independent, nonsectarian institution whose mission is liberal education. The word “liberal” in “liberal education” has the same root as the word “liberty.” Liberal education at Shimer is an education for and through liberty. Agreeing with Socrates that the “unexamined life is not worth living,” Shimer finds the highest liberty to consist in the freedom of the mind; that is, in freedom from unexamined assumptions, for example, swings in intellectual fashion, partisan politics, and ideology. Liberty at its peak is thus identical with the pursuit of truth. To this end, Shimer students and faculty engage in close study of the Great Books of Western Civilization conducted through the Socratic Method. By the term, Great Books, Shimer refers to those works of world-historical significance in the natural and social sciences as well as the humanities. Included in the Core Curriculum are the seminal works of Plato, Aristotle, Saint Thomas Aquinas, Francis Bacon, Sir Isaac Newton, William Shakespeare, John Locke, Adam Smith, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Alexis de Tocqueville, Karl Marx, and Albert Einstein, among many

The Shimer community recognizes that the intellectual liberty it pursues depends on its being situated in a system of political liberty. That is, Shimer’s cultivation of free minds simultaneously transcends and depends on the political freedom enshrined in the American Constitution. This dependence, along with the College’s commitment to enhancing its students’ self-knowledge, leads it to require of all students the serious study of the Founding documents—the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and The Federalist—as well as the other original sources that both informed the Founding and reacted to it.

It's obvious that this proposed mission statement is even more appalling than the guideposts, but given that I already wrote a lengthy article against Tom's guideposts for the mission statement and all of my arguments apply to this final proposal, I'm going to keep my commentary to a handful of bullet points:

  • Here we see confirmation that Tom purposefully abstained from proposing a mission statement that could be officially rejected by the college. By solely disseminating "guideposts" and holding perfunctory "discussions," Tom appears to have taken our view into consideration and there will be no record of community rejection of his proposal by the time of the board meeting (February 20th). It's clear that the community stance is not anywhere to be found in his proposed mission statement, but nonetheless he will make the argument that he "consulted us." Tom did not submit any mission statement -- or even officially submit his guideposts -- to the self-study committee of the Assembly, nor did he submit a mission statement directly to the Assembly for the meeting in which we voted on a mission statement.
  • In the past, the Board's responsibility was simply to approve a community-approved mission statement. This makes sense, since to retain accreditation, the HLC requires community-wide support of the college's mission.
  • Tom has said in the past that "at a school where Karl Marx and Adam Smith receive equal attention, it's impossible to have a political bias." Regardless of the outright falsity of that claim, Tom will reference the fact that he named Marx as evidence that this mission statement is "not political."
  • The first sentence of Tom's proposed mission statement is factually inaccurate since the mission of Shimer College, according to everyone at Shimer College other than Tom, is education, not "liberal education."
  • The first sentence of the second paragraph is also factually inaccurate, since the Shimer community overwhelmingly voices opposition to not only describing our education as the pursuit of "intellectual liberty" but also to the idea that our discourse is "situated in a system of political liberty."
  • In a letter to the Board, idiot and trustee Bud Vesta commended Tom Lindsay for all of his "consultation." He wrote, "I therefore encourage and ask you to take the current mission statement, all the helpful, indeed constructive, comment and input you have received (some of which appears already to be reflected in your current revised statement) and then using your “guide posts” as principles, prepare a final draft for approval at our board meeting next week. "
  • Tom Lindsay, and everyone who supports what he is doing, are morally reprehensible people who must be stopped.

1 comment:

  1. Included in the Core Curriculum are the seminal works of [white guy], [white guy], [aristocratic white Christian guy], [aristocratic white Anglo Christian guy], [rich white Anglo Christian guy], [white Anglo Christian guy], [rich white Anglo Christian guy], [rich white Anglo guy>, <rich white Christian guy], [rich white Christian guy], [white guy], and [rich white guy], among others. But it's balanced because two of those white guys opposed capitalism!