Marxian Education

Some schools are ditching traditional grading.

Instead, they use “labor-based grading,” an idea promoted by Arizona State University professor Asao Inoue.

Labor-based grading means basing grades more on effort than the quality of work.

In addition, Inoue lectured a conference of rhetoric professors “stop saying that we have to teach this dominant English. … If you use a single standard to grade your students’ languaging, you engage in racism!”

So I reported that Inoue opposes teaching standard English. He complained that I was being unfair.

“What I’m saying is that students should have choices,” says Inoue in my latest video. “Is it possible that a student comes in who wants to learn the standardized English in my classes? Absolutely.”

My German-speaking parents made me learn proper English. Where would I be if they hadn’t?

“There are absolutely benefits to a standardized English,” says Inoue. “But that same world creates those same benefits through certain kinds of biases. Those can be bad.”

Lecturing to professors, Inoue says, “White people like you … built the steel cage of white language supremacy … handmaiden to white bias in the world, the kind that kills Black men on the streets!”

What? Teaching standard English kills Black men?

“I think it can,” says Inoue. “We have Eric Garner saying, ‘I can’t breathe.’ But no one’s listening and he dies. That’s the logics that we get.”

I still don’t get it. Eric Garner died because white people teach standard English? He uses words like “logics”? “Languaging”?

Much of the time, I don’t understand what Inoue is talking about. If this is how professors speak now, I see why students are bored and depressed.

Twenty-six years ago, a school board in Oakland, California, announced that its Black students were “bilingual.” They spoke both Black English (Ebonics) and standard English, and the schools should give “instruction to African-American students in their primary language.”

Ebonics advocates told teachers not to correct students who “she here” instead of “she is here.”

When many people, including Black parents, objected, Oakland officials said that they never intended to teach Ebonics, just to recognize it as a legitimate language.

Inoue says that the Ebonics movement didn’t do enough.

“Everyone says, yes, we believe in that, but they didn’t do anything in their classrooms.”

No wonder his students label him “easy grader.” I’m glad he doesn’t teach engineering.

Inoue identifies as “Japanese American.”

I tell him that Japanese Americans earn, on average, $21,000 a year more than average Americans, yet he keeps talking about America’s “white supremacy.”

“What kind of white supremacist country lets that happen?” I joke.

Inoue replies, “Japanese American communities wanted to be seen as more American” and made great efforts to join American culture.

Exactly! Japanese Americans prospered because of it. So do other immigrant groups. Several now earn more than whites in America. They succeed by speaking standard English, and because America is relatively color blind.

“I get a little uncomfortable with colorblindness,” replies Inoue, “That’s not how humans work … there’s no such thing as a neutrality.”

“But there is,” I say. “Hire people based on the highest test score, you’re being neutral about other factors.”

“Depends on how you see the test,” he answers. Tests may be biased. He also criticizes high school honors classes, calling them “pretty white spaces.”

Inoue says he believes in “Marxian” ideas, and asks things like, “Who owns the means of opportunity production in the classroom?”

“Where has Marxian philosophy ever helped people?” I ask.

Marxian philosophies “don’t give us a plan of action. They’re not socialism,” he says. As for capitalism, “I think we can do better.”

I doubt it. For years, intellectuals promised Marx’s ideas will work better than capitalism. Instead, socialism perpetuated poverty.

Nevertheless, on campuses today, Marx’s views thrive. Students often hear them unchallenged.

At least Inoue was willing to come on Stossel TV to debate. Most “Marxian” professors refuse.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

8 thoughts on “Marxian Education

  1. Just working hard does not work in the workplace. In fact, a few days ago I had a discussion with a retired engineer. He commented if you get an 80-90 in for your work in school, that’s a B. Not a bad grade. In the workplace, if 10-20 percent of your work is wrong you will likely get fired.
    Now this guy is proposing not grading on quality at all? Where will that leave people when they get to the workplace. And what kind of products and safety will there be when much of the work done has little to no quality? Do you want someone designing a sky scrapper, bridge, or school that never got evaluated on the quality of their work in school?

  2. I have a language I made up. No one understands it but me. If I took a course from Professor Inoue and wrote all my work in this language I made up would he pass me?

  3. More demonic insanity – pls people stop sitting silent – rise up, fight back against all this satanic, demonic NONSENSE.

  4. Wow, John, you really exposed the hallowing out of US education by some misdirected ideas about language and society. Seems to me the central post of this “Marxian” view of English education is that standard English or its advocacy is white racism. That a standard dialect of a national language necessarily is racist is pure nonsense. Without standards–rules about use of language–would lead to chaos. Every language is built on rules–a grammar–by which comprehensible language is produced. Traditionally, however, English education went to an extreme focus of form (grammar) at the expense of student creativity or meaning. That was the problem not the existence of standard rules. Instead of correcting it, US educ. appears by your video to ignore both language form and function in favor of shallow goals–student attendance and punctuality–behavior easily graded. In other words, English teachers have given up teaching the rigorous task of effective expression. I can only say that here is another tragedy brought by wokism and US self-destruction. (That ASU professor is misdirected because he seems in actuality to deny more than one dialect can be honored in the school–standard and the home/local one. Even if the present standard dialect is erased, another would naturally evolve in its place!)

  5. Evaluating a person without a grade is ridiculous! I worked as an Assistant Registrar for many years. The college I worked at stopped giving grades in the 70’s for a couple of years. The students who then went out to get jobs were always writing us to ask for grade equivalents to their low pass and high pass grades. We where, of course, unable to attach a grade to their transcripts for the courses they took. This lunacy even beats that! Evaluating students based on their effort is just insane and another indication that this country is not producing productive thinking people who are the best at what they do. This is just another way to add to the mediocracy that has infected our country.

  6. As a longtime college instructor, I have watched the English skills of students slide downhill over the past 10 years. A significant number cannot write a coherent sentence. As a psychology instructor I should be concentrating on the content of the papers I require students to write. But sometimes the writing is so bad I cannot make sense of it. I wonder how these students, most of whom are sophomores are higher, managed to pass high school English and composition classes. Professor Inoue may think students should be allowed to speak and write their own version of English but if that continues we will no longer be able to communicate effectively in a common language and communication will deteriorate to a “Tower of Babble”.
    As far as students being able to earn high grades based on volume of work not quality, I cannot see how that will happen as completing the minimum requirements for a course seems to require great effort. I am amazed at the number of students who will simply skip completion of multiple assignments and then when they realize, a week before the of the semester, that they have an average or failing grade, want to do “extra credit”. My answer to this is always, “your grade is a measure of the quality of your work not the number of extra points you got”.

  7. To answer Diane’s question: Oregon State U. (BA, MA), Washington State U. for PH.D.
    He seems to practice what he teaches if the grammar on his “Anti-racism Teaching” endowment homepage is any indication: ” I’m hopeful about this endeavor, and I think it will much good to our disciplines and the world. ”
    He has received awards for his writings from the organizations he is on the executive committee of. Looks like he has carved a pretty little niche for himself that looks great on paper if you don’t look deeper at it. I’m beginning to see the US educational system is degrading as fast as the educational system where I’m living. Very sad to witness it.

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