Saturday, April 16, 2011

My professor is a racist! I knew it!

I handed back an exam and was especially exasperated with my students. I had told them that there would be a mandatory question on the Fed goals of full employment, price stability, exchange rate stability and economic growth. They were to give the Fed a grade and tell how they would do things differently if they were Ben Bernanke. Fully 2/3s of them did not take the two minutes to look up the current numbers, the historic numbers and compare the two. So they lost between 6 - 10 points on a 10 point question. I told them that if I had as easy access to information when I was their age, I would have won the Nobel Prize in Economics by now. I also told them that information makes you seem smart. The example I gave was that the previous week I was in Raleigh for some meetings and was told that the head of the John Locke Society was added to my schedule and I would meet him after lunch. The only thing I recalled about Locke was that he opined that the mind was a blank tablet. By the meeting I knew that Locke was an abolitionist who also was a stockholder in the Royal Africa Company - they had the charter from the King to engage in the slave trade. I also found out that Locke had written the Constitution of the Carolinas. Was that why the society was headquartered in Raleigh? So when we met we had a lively conversation that caused all in the room to be impressed by my knowledge (newly acquired). Then, I asked the Locke person whose name was John Hood, “Please don’t tell me your middle name is Bell”. It wasn’t but we launched into a detailed discussion of something I know very well – the Civil War. We talked about Hood and his tactics that lead to grief at Franklin and at Nashville where he became the only general on either side to lose his entire army at battle. We disagreed over one point. He had accepted the common notion that Bell Hood was the south’s best division commander. I believe that honor went to Patrick Cleburne who Hood killed by having he lead the suicidal frontal assualt at Franklin. I then told my students that the irony was that the Union general George Thomas, the only Virginian of flag rank to stay north had a large contingent of black troops who undoubtedly took great pleasure in their work. I said, they were probably told by their officers “Don’t fire til you see the whites.” No one except the one student who is in his 40s chuckled. The rest had no clue to the reference. I am glad I am retiring.


Justin Short said...

Dr. Black, I never cease to be amazed at your stories of apathetic students. I remember you asked a girl in my class who Joe Biden was. Surprisingly, she didn't know. I guess this is a result of our public school system. What a shame.

H.A. Black said...

Justin, What is tragic is that the voucher proposal died in the Tennessee senate. It was amazing that the Knoxville, Nashville and Chattanooga Chambers of Commerce were against it. I wonder why they would want to keep schools with low achievement and the "education" of students who end up not knowing who Joe Biden is? All the best.