AS THE WORLD TURNS: News Weekly
Greatest mass murderer in history / US college offers zombie studies / Education as indoctrination / Excluded from extracurriculars
, October 2, 2010
Greatest mass murderer in history
Mao Zedong, founder of the People's Republic of China, qualifies as the greatest mass murderer in world history, an expert who had unprecedented access to official Communist Party archives said yesterday.
Frank Dikötter, a Hong Kong-based historian, said he found that during the time that Mao was enforcing the Great Leap Forward in 1958, in an effort to catch up with the economy of the Western world, he was responsible for overseeing "one of the worst catastrophes the world has ever known".
Mr Dikötter ... compared the systematic torture, brutality, starvation and killing of Chinese peasants to the Second World War in its magnitude. At least 45 million people were worked, starved or beaten to death in China over these four years; the worldwide death toll of the Second World War was 55 million.
Mr Dikötter is the only author to have delved into the Chinese archives since they were reopened four years ago. He argued that this devastating period of history - which has until now remained hidden - has international resonance. "It ranks alongside the gulags and the Holocaust as one of the three greatest events of the 20th century," he said.
His book, Mao's Great Famine; The Story of China's Most Devastating Catastrophe
, reveals that while this is a part of history that has been "quite forgotten" in the official memory of the People's Republic of China, there was a "staggering degree of violence" that was, remarkably, carefully catalogued in Public Security Bureau reports, which featured among the provincial archives he studied.Extract from Arifa Akbar, "Mao's Great Leap Forward 'killed 45 million in four years'", The Independent (UK), September 17, 2010.
;US college offers zombie studies
It is a class to die for - Zombie studies is now on the curriculum at the University of Baltimore.
The new course invites students to devour classic zombie films and comics. Instead of essays, they write horror scripts or draw storyboards for their ideal monster movie.
The minor class, titled English 333, has already been dubbed "Zombie 101" by the Baltimore Sun
It was introduced to meet a demand for "interesting, off-the-wall" courses for a new minor in pop culture, according to Jonathan Shorr, chairman of the university's school of communications design.
"It's a back door into a lot of subjects," he told the Baltimore Sun
. "On the way, they learn how literature and mass media work, and how they come to reflect our times."
However, horror fans will be pleased to find that the class also explores two less academic themes: "blood and guts".
"We're going to be dealing with some of the truly disgusting stuff that's been done in horror over the years," said Arnold Blumberg, author of Zombiemania
, who teaches the course.
"I want to reinforce the degree to which this material can be found offensive by a lot of people."Extract from Childs Walker, "Zombies lumber in curriculum at University of Baltimore", Baltimore Sun, September 6, 2010.
: www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/bs-md-ub-zombies-20100906,0,5067144,full.storyAlso extract from "Zombies take over University of Baltimore curriculum", BBC News, September 7, 2010.
: www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-11219411 Education as indoctrination
In colleges across the U.S., instructors seem perfectly suited to teaching the intellectually incompetent. Their pedagogic skills consist of working overhead projectors, organising "group discussion sessions", and talking about the victims of Western civilisation.
Although one finds some real students in the sciences and occasionally even in the humanities, much of what goes on in college courses, and especially in education, social work and communications, rarely rises above the ridiculous. College learning has become devoid of ideational substance or real study requirements.
It might be countered that colleges are providing a service for which lots of people pay. ... Unfortunately this argument doesn't work. We are talking not about the sale of Snicker bars or baseball cards but about something more significant. We are describing the degeneration of what used to be higher learning. ... The more higher learning becomes associated with what is infantile as well as dishonest, the more deeply it affects our understanding of higher education, the sciences and the process of becoming an educated person.
Until we can change the absurd demand for college diplomas even in jobs that should not require graduation from a grammar school, the glut of devalued degrees is likely to go on.
Potential employers have to be convinced that college degrees should not be the entry-level requirement for non-professional areas of work. When salespeople and restaurant managers are forced to go to college in order to obtain employment, then you know you've stepped into the Twilight Zone.Extract from Paul E. Gottfried, "Education as indoctrination", Alternative Right (U.S.), September 16, 2010.
: www.alternativeright.com/main/blogs/left-right/pcu/ Excluded from extracurriculars
Participation in an extracurricular activity - swimming on the high-school swim team, for example, or singing in a church choir - can greatly enrich a young person's life. Unfortunately, many young people now find themselves in circumstances that make such participation nearly impossible.
Why? According to a study by sociologists at Arizona State University and St Louis Community College, family fragmentation has become a serious impediment to many adolescents' participation in extracurricular activities.
Their study of extracurricular activities ... highlights the importance of family structure in determining whether teens can participate in such activities.
The researchers find the same pattern whether looking at extracurriculars sponsored by their school (such as involvement in sports, in band, in theatre, or in school-based service clubs) or at extracurriculars independent of the school (such as involvement in a church youth group, in scouting or in private music lessons).
Youth living in single-parent households (mostly mother-only households) are distinctly "less likely to be involved" than are peers from intact two-parent families.Extract from Bryce J. Christensen and Robert W. Patterson, "New research", The Family in America (The Howard Center for Family, Religion & Society, Rockford, Illinois), Spring 2010, Vol. 24 No. 2.