Saturday, November 18, 2006

Talk At A Community College Campus

This was sent to me by a correspondent of mine. Names and such have been deleted to shield all involved.

He showed much more patience than I probably would have....

The talk.

Yes, well, this woman at {a certain university} asked me if I wanted to give a talk. My question was a talk about what, and her answer should have warned me. She wanted me to talk about, and I quote, "Oh, getting alternate funding like business schools do, and preparing students for life in the business world, combining academics and consulting, you know, things like that."

Think it sounds diffuse? So did I. But hey, why now, I figured, so I threw something together.

My second warning should have been that she couldn't, or wouldn't, give me any specifics, like oh, who I'd be talking to, or who this talk was for. When I found out that it was clear over at the other end of the county at a community college auditorium, that should have been my final clue that something weird was going on.

So after I burned the {tv show I send to someone} episode to DVD, I mailed it, then drove over to {a nearby town}, which would have been pleasant, had it not been a grey, cloudy, foggy day. I walked into the auditorium and set up my notebook or would have -- except that I couldn't find an outlet. In an auditorium. At a community college.

Well, there was one, fifty feet away. I secured an extension cord and plugged in the notebook and the projector.

Then, my audience started drifting in. There was an old woman with a walker -- call me ageist, but would you be teaching if you couldn't get around without a walker? She was a grumpy old thing, though, and provided lots of entertainment, but I'll get to that. There were four normal-looking professional types. Then the birkenstock crew started coming in. Denim skirts, dreadlocks, Che Guevara and Bush=Hitler! T-shirts some with no bras, neo-hippies in their 20s (you see very few of those around here -- now I know where they hide), a VW van full of them.

Given the diffuse topic, I'd decided to approach it from the angle of the relationship between education and business, both from the point of view of the institution and the student. And before I got the third sentence out, I was challenged by one of the Kucinich Kids.

"Business rapes the earth and has no place in education!"

I kid you not. You can't make this shit up. I believe my response was something like, "Uh-huh, moving right along ..." but I didn't get far before I got the next moonbatty challenge.

It was completely odd, like they were competing among themselves to see who could be the nuttiest. They weren't looking at me, or much paying attention to me: They were looking at each other, like it was some weird contest.

The old lady with the walker had had enough at about the tenth wacko statement, and told them they were ninnies. It was hard not to laugh, particularly taking into account the shocked looks on the VW crowd's faces. The old lady had sat close to me, presumably because of her hearing, and the four reasonable-looking people likewise moved toward my end of the table. So I went on, with these six as my audience, punctuated from time to time by some irrelevant leftist talking point from the moonbats.

It turns out they were teachers. Why they were there, I do not know, though I found out that some private foundation sponsors these talks and they get paid to go to them. Or something.

The point at which I had just had enough was when one of the wackos said something about businesses being racist because they didn't hire people who wore dreadlocks. I said no, racism had nothing to do with it, that such people, like people who went to interviews with multiple body piercings, send a clear message that they have no respect for convention, that they are insufferable narcissistic spoiled brats who think the world revolves around them and their pathetic self-expression, and that I wouldn't hire one even to clean the toilets.

Well, that did it. They were floored. They didn't know what to say, at least for a few minutes. So I pressed my advantage. I told them if they actually had something to contribute besides mindless, stupid, meaningless leftist talking points, they were welcome to stay, but otherwise, I preferred an audience of adults. And then the old lady and the four normal people lit into them.

Most stayed. And they did ask a couple of intelligent--though naive--questions. Like when talking about alternate funding, one asked if funding from the private sector didn't come with strings. I said you negotiate that before you accept the funding, then went on to give examples, like classes using case competitions with corporate sponsors who gave the competition winners internships. Or another asked why businesses would fund education, if they weren't getting anything out of it. I told her they were getting something out of it, even with no strings: publicity, PR, and potential employees. And the school got money. Everybody wins.

Anyway, they cut me my check and I left. It was bizarre. I don't think I'll do any more of those.

Like I said, he showed much more patience than I would have. But the comment about narcissism and "pathetic self-expression" was dead on.

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