I was starting to wonder if the joy of writing about Conservapedia – racist bigot Andrew Schlafly’s little right-wing hate blog – was fading. After all, lately it’s become home to resident man-child Ken Demyer ever-more insane (and inane) ramblings and quite frankly I don’t really like poking fun at the mentally disturbed. Actually, I might need to refine that a bit, seeing as most of the people we discuss here seem to fall into the mentally disturbed category.
So it was a pleasant surprise to see Andrew Schlafly’s home-schooling (aka child abuse) coming to the fore again. Plenty has already been written about his attempts at moulding the minds of his captive charges, so they turn into good little conservative drones, destined for Oral Roberts University and a career at McDonald’s, both here and elsewhere. Highlights include such gems as reducing students to tears and accusing their fathers of being liberals when the complain; treating girls as inferior subjects, setting different exams for them; marking homework and exams publicly on Conservapedia; and using a marking system that takes the term “grade inflation” outside and shoots it in the head. This is a man who sets history exams and says “These questions require at most one or a few phrases to answer; you do not need to write complete sentences” – yup, 10 short sentences can earn you 100/100 in Schlafly’s course. Fortunately, Schlafly doesn’t seem to consider spelling and grammar as important either.
Here’s a few examples:
- In response to the question “What do you admire most about Christopher Columbus”, we get “That he learning how to be a captain at age 10.,” which earns a “Good, but you mean ‘learned’, not ‘learning'” and an overall mark of 96/100.
- Once again, asking vague questions tat technically have no wrong answer, Schlafly asks his students to “Pick an aspect of the Civil Rights Movement that impressed you most, and explain why.” One poor child replied, “In the civil rights movement I was impressed at Jackie Robinson who was able to play major league baseball. I think this was very hard because baseball is shown everywhere so he received a lot bad criticism and hate. I am impressed that he was able to go through with it.” That’s right – screw MLK, screw Rosa Parks, he was impressed that a black man could stick it out and play baseball. How does Schlafly see this? “Superb, may use this as a model.”
I could go on, but I’m sure you get the gist of it. One can only assume that these children’s parents either never get to see what Schlafly is doing to their children, or they are cast from that special Bachmann/Palin mould of rank stupidity that they actually think he’s doing their children a service.
It would also appear as if he’s becoming increasingly lazy, and can’t even be bothered to set a decent (well, as far as the work can be applied to his tests) set of questions. His latest homework assignment reads as follows:
Read the lecture.
Then quiz yourself on a few of the terms on each page of the Study Guide.
Write down the approximate percentage of terms that you know correctly (such as “10%”): ____
Then study all the terms in the Study Guide
Then quiz yourself on all the terms in the Study Guide. Write down the approximate percentage of terms that you knew (for the most part – you don’t have to know every detail about a term to earn credit for it): ____
Study and quiz yourself for as much time as you have. Write down the highest percentage that you know (based on a sample of the questions on each page): ____
Next week there will be a competition in class about who (or which team) can explain the meaning of the most terms (like a “spelling bee”).
Wow… way to teach history. Just learn the terms; who needs things like background and context? In Schlafly’s case, it really is a prime example of “those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.”
Fortunately, his students do occasionally show backbone. When the issue arose regarding the separate tests for boys and girls – which Schlafly attributed to “chivalry” – several students, most notably CP admins SharonS and AddisonD, protested quite strongly, but were soon told to sit down, shut up and to bake cookies for the boys.
Now, at last, it would appear as if another “student” has put his head above the parapet and openly questioned Schlafly. I use the inverted commas, because I seriously doubt that he is one of Schlafly’s students. Let’s face it, CP has reached the stage where there are very few serious editors left. In fact, if it wasn’t for Ken Demyer and his obsessive-compulsive need to smear his shit all over CP, the site would be stagnant, if not dead. However, genuine or not, he raises serious concerns about the quality of the marking, which any serious teacher would take seriously. However, we’re talking Schlafly here, who is too stupid, too pig-headed and too vain to see any criticism of his work as anything other than liberal whining.
The student, going by the name RexBanner, first turned up, questioning the homework question quoted above:
Mr Schlafly, this is a very unusual piece of homework. There doesn’t seem to be much point in writing down what percentage of words we know, as you can’t check whether or not we are fabricating results. It also isn’t testing us on anything in Lecture Six – as the Study Guide is compiled through homework assignments, we will be memorising Study Guide terms from last year and thus as we are unable to add to the Guide, our knowledge of any terms relating to this year’s Lecture will not be tested. Can we please return to the format of questions which specifically relate to the Lecture? Otherwise, with no testing and no ability to add to the Study Guide, there is no means of testing our knowledge and not even an incentive to read the Lecture.
Needless to say, we’re still awaiting an answer. Then again, as we’ve learned from the Ken Demyer vs. Rob Smith, Bugler and TK episodes, Schlafly’s most effective tactic is to run away and hide from uncomfortable questions, until one of the other administrators – usually resident swabbie Brian Macdonald – comes along to block the user.
He then returns, claiming to be a representative of the student board (which seems a bit spurious, given that he’s not even in the US and there’s no e-mail active on CP for the students to communicate) and highlights serious errors that Schlafly has made when marking papers. Again, I must stress that genuine student or not, his concerns are valid. Here’s the list of errors he picked up:
- Student 1: the student refers to Charles Martel’s army as “Germanic”, when they were Franks. The Germanics (Alemanni) and Franks (Francorum) were distinct peoples, as evidenced by the Pact of Reisbach (Donatio Alemannicum) in 699 AD. Yet you give this incorrect answer full marks.
- Student 2: repeatedly uses the impersonal adverb “there” instead of the plural pronoun “their”. You give this grammatically incorrect answer 100%.
- Student 3: this student claims that Charles Martel was the grandson of Charlemagne. Charles Martel died in 742. Charlemagne was born in approximately the same year (742 AD according to Ranulph of Higden; 743 according to St. Germaine of Essen). If anything, Charles Martel was Charlemagne’s grandfather, not his grandson. You give this incorrect answer 100%.
- Student 3: you claim that the feudal system’s treatment of homeless people was “humorous”. This is very un-Christian. You give it full marks.
- Student 3: you claim that the period c.476-1000 was “relatively peaceful”. This is in direct conflict with the historical record of contemporary Europe, and the content of your own Lecture. You give this answer 100%.
- Student 5: you subtract one point as the answer “lacks a full elaboration of why the Battle of Tours and Charles the Hammer were so significant”. Although the answer clearly states “[the battle] effectively ceased Islamic permeation of Europe”, it is downgraded while all the other answers, which are substantially shorter and less detailed, are given full marks.
- Student 5: you write “Strong on detail, but analysis as to importance and significance would make your answers even better!”. In spite of this, you award full marks to student answers which are short, entirely lacking in detail, and factually inaccurate.
- Student 6: claims that the Carolingian Court ended with Charlemagne. It in fact ended with Odo and Adelaide of Vermandois in 1122, some 204 years after Charlemagne died. You give this incorrect answer 100%.
- Student 7: claims that without the Battle of Tours, America would have been Islamic. This is a very long bow to draw, especially considering that neither contemporary Muslims nor Christians were aware of the existence of the New World. You give this spurious answer 100%.
- Student 12: you subtract marks for a single spelling error, but for students 2 and 15 you award full marks for multiple grammatical and spelling errors.
- Student 12: clearly states that you still have not marked his homework for Lecture Four. Which you haven’t.
- Student 13: claims that feudalism was created in direct response to the Viking threat. This is a clear contradiction of historical fact and your own lecture. You award this incorrect answer full marks.
- Student 13: repeatedly uses the impersonal adverb “there” instead of the plural pronoun “their”. You give this grammatically incorrect answer 100%, although you subtracted marks from student 12 for a single spelling error.
- Student 15: claims that the Church created the Holy Roman Empire and “placed the Franks at the head of it”. This is incorrect, as the Holy Roman Empire was in effect a renaming of the existing Frankish Kingdom. You give this incorrect answer full marks.
- Student 15: claims that Charles Martel “united the Christian people to fight the Muslims”. In reality, Martel led a Frankish-Burgindinian coalition. There were far more Christians than the Franks and Burgundinians. You give this incorrect answer full marks.
So, there’s no consistency in Schlafly’s marking – deducting points for spelling in some cases and not in others and awarding marks for factually (even by the standard of Schlafly’s own “lessons”) incorrect answers.
Schlafly’s answer is illuminating – not only does it indicate that he is incapable of being able to answer a question directly, it also shows the utter contempt in which he holds his students.
Rex, your complaints seem nitpicky. The Franks were Germanic and an answer to a question asking identification of “Charles the Hammer” should at least spell his name correctly!
Yes, pointing out that he’s making a mockery of the poor children’s’ education is “nitpicking”. Then again, he’s managed to deflect all the previous criticism directed at him – although he did mercifully fail to obtain state funding for his little church hell-hole – and somehow the parents keep sending their kids to be mentally abused by Schlafly. Still, I suppose the advantage is that the longer Schlafly keeps teaching, the less McDonald’s will have to worry about running out of staff.
In typical Conservapedia fashion, Schlafly sneakily removes all trace of Rex’s as yet unanswered questions, under the pretense of “trimming” his talkpage.
Rex, however, picks up on it and calls Andy out on his cowardice and censorship:
I see that you have not only failed to respond to the concerns raised above; you have actually attempted to ”hide” the concerns by “trimming” your talk page without answering us. This is most disappointing, and I am sorry to say that this action suggests that your attitude towards your students is one of utter contempt. Concerns have been raised, you have failed to respond, and now you are showing a total lack of respect for the very people you are meant to be teaching by trying to hide these concerns under the carpet. This is unprofessional in the extreme and implies that you do not care in the slightest for teaching; even though your own User page discusses at length your teaching “abilities”.
Schlafly’s reply is so typically him. He ignores all references to the actual errors in marking that he has made, simply stating that:
Rex, I did respond to your issues and found them to be nitpicky, as I said. Beyond that, I do not find your additional comments to merit a response. If you have a specific concern about my feedback on your work, then please confine your talk to that on this page. A student should not try to run a course.
So, once again, he ignores the very real fact that he has awarded full marks for incorrect answers and throws down the good old “Mind Your Own Business” excuse, so favoured by the powers that be at Conservapedia, when faced with difficult questions. He should limit his questions to his work only and I also like the implied “HOW DARE YOU QUESTION ME??” comment at the end.
Schlafly would appear to hold his students, who pay for the privilege of being abused by him, in complete and utter contempt. He is clearly incompetent and unfamiliar with the subject he “teaches”. Not that that’s anything new – but the awarding of full marks for patently incorrect answers and then brushing aside critisicm of this, is a new low, even by his already abysmal standards.