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Jun 16, 2005 10:48 pm

The Mandarinization of American Schooling

Wendy McElroy has written an important piece about Missing Males in colleges, which can be read at:

With respect to why this is occurring, I would suggest it is part of the larger Imperial Syndrome. The Chinese were the first to deal with developing an imperial, bureaucratic schooling system, which was later debated by Jefferson (a sinophile via France) and John Adams. Tocqueville also recognized the triumph of "the Chinese System" in France.

As noted recently by a teacher at American University, to avoid instant responses by students including threats, use number rather than letter grades and get the hell away from campus and the computer after listing your grades at the last second. I got an early taste of this when I started teaching on the Internet in 1997.

I recall in high school after having won a city wide prize for American history, and having the highest average in the 11th grade class, getting "B"s because I would not cut out little articles, mount them, and bring them into class. All of the young ladies did so to "earn" the "A." The teacher, a woman, asked me why I wouldn't conform, and I asked why she couldn't reconsider her system?

I suspect that women by nature and by early training are better suited to this kind of schooling that has little to do with a real education, which is not so easy to evaluate with either a number of a letter grade.

Wendy suggests privatization, but if the private schools have the same Mandarin training structure, how will that help?

If males take the approach of the Taoists and simply drop out, that need not, as Wendy suggests, consign them to blue collar jobs. It may lead them into the market, entrepreneurship and small business. The spate of new books about the corporate corruption in universities suggests that is a viable alternative to schooling, certainly these are now more ethical.

I often wonder what my life might have been like had I turned down the academic scholarships and fellowships that took me through to the doctorate, as I had turned down the athletic ones, and had simply gone into construction from the get-go? Even operated as a sideline, one year I earned more from the latter than from teaching, until Reagan's "tax reform." In neither effort was my primary motivation monetary, but I did enjoy working with some craftsmen more than with some of the academics at the university. There was never the nastiness, pettiness and envy one sees among so-called intellectuals.

See also my article "Capitalism and the Tao," in The Free Market for Jan. 1998 at

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More Comments:

William Marina - 6/17/2005

There is at least one book on how this kind of "feeling" thing came on big in the Ming, the last of th really indigenous Chinese Dynasties.

Max Swing - 6/17/2005

On the other side, we still see that students of engineering, physics are still mainly male (however even here more women apply). There are different problems in school, I encountered and could enummerate. First, the feminin structure that McElroy brought up is one certain thing. Boys can't see clear goals, because the school don't show clear language anymore, instead they want to appeal to your feelings, which is the wrong way to interest men.

Just take her example: Making career, ok, planning it step by step, ok. but men don't have the same idealism about the environment and such themes. All the former male visions have been destroyed in one way or the other...