Skip to comments.Rigor mortis - On the hetero-patriarchal trappings of “academic rigor” at Purdue
Posted on 01/08/2018 11:36:01 AM PST by Heartlander
If you are thinking of building a bridge, be careful if your engineer went to Purdue University. Donna Riley, the head of the engineering department at Purdue [Correction: her actual title is Kamyar Haghighi Head of the School of Engineering Education], has put the world on notice that “rigor” is a dirty word. In an article for Engineering Education called “Rigor/Us: Building Boundaries and Disciplining Diversity with Standards of Merit,” Professor Riley, who is also the author of Engineering and Social Justice, argues that academic “rigor” is merely a blind for “white male heterosexual privilege.” Yes, really. “The term,” she writes, “has a historical lineage of being about hardness, stiffness, and erectness; its sexual connotations—and links to masculinity in particular—are undeniable.” There follows a truly surreal meditation on the existential and sexist depredations of slide rules—those hard, straight instruments that have traditionally been deployed by men—and periodic eructations like this:
Rigor may be a defining tool, revealing how structural forces of power and privilege operate to exclude men of color and women, students with disabilities, LGBTQ+ [love the plus sign!] people, first-generation and low-income students, and non-traditionally-aged students.
Of course, it is not just rigor that upsets Professor Riley. There is also “Scientific knowledge itself,” which, according to Professor Riley, “is gendered, raced, and colonizing.” What should we do about this outrageous behavior on the part of nature? Judging from Professor Riley’s example, one thing we should do is whine about how unfair life is for women and other “marginalized” groups, preferably in rebarbative, jargon-ridden language. “[D]ecades of ethnographic research,” she sobs, “document a climate of microaggresions and cultures of whiteness and masculinity in engineering.” We also, it almost goes without saying, must abandon the whole machinery of rigorous analysis for something freer, more “creative.” Engineering programs, Professor Riley suggests, should “do away with” the ideal of academic rigor. “This is not about reinventing rigor for everyone, it is about doing away with the concept altogether so we can welcome other ways of knowing. Other ways of being. It is about criticality and reflexivity.”
Back in 1996, Alan Sokal gulled the editors of the trendy lit-crit journal Social Text into publishing an article called “Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity.” It was deliberate, delicious nonsense, arguing in a horrible patois of academic doublespeak that “physical ‘reality,’ no less than social ‘reality,’ is at bottom a social and linguistic construct” and that “scientific ‘knowledge,’ so far from being objective, reflects and encodes the dominant ideologies and power relations of the culture that produced it.” When Alan Sokal revealed his hoax, it was the occasion of great hilarity for the public, shame for the editors of Social Text, and, one might have hoped, a salutary admonition for susceptible academics. But Professor Riley’s gibberish is meant in earnest. Her essay appears not in a science fiction journal or a publication intended for the denizens of a sanatorium but a journal concerned with science.
This woman is the head of a department of engineering in an institution of higher education. The moral is, we suppose, that things are always worse than they seem.
That parenthetical correction is a big deal. "Engineering Education" is a cluster-fxxx of political correctness poisoning the minds of future high school science teachers. It is NOT an Engineering School teaching future engineers.
Why don’t the people who work with this moron just declare her an idiot and move on? Is every leftist or femenist brain fart worthy of consideration? It would be as simple as “With all due respect, madam, that is stupid.”
You either know physics or you do not.
You either know math or you do not.
You either know statics, dynamics, mechanics, hydraulics, etc, or you do not.
You either know thermodynamics or you do not.
If you base an engineering design on your knowledge of the "structural forces of power and privilege" then someone is going to get injured or killed.
This is a real shame. Purdue used to be a top-notch engineering school.
You won’t really have to worry about her students designing bridges or buildings. With their level of knowledge they’ll be fetching tea for their Chinese bosses or cleaning up after meetings in the conference room.
Hmmm, Rigor head!
No, that doesn't sound right.
Nope, not working for me.
Because they're all morons in the "Engineering Education" department.
This business will get out of control. It will get out of control and we’ll be lucky to live through it.
I'm not so sure about that. This appears to be directly connected to their college of engineering.
You get it. Engineer, I presume?
Real scientific inquiry and use of the fruits thereof has brought many life-changing advancements and benefits to the West. Fools like this woman would throw that away for identity politics. To Hell with her.
We went through this a month or so ago. Yeah, it’s a department in their school of engineering. The idiots’ department. They’re training future high school teachers. That’s almost as frightening as if they were training actual future engineers.
So if you're a woman or homosexual you are incapable of performing the necessary work to achieve competence in the field? Got it.
Based on the description at Purdues’s web-site it appears to me that this “department” is involved in the education of first-year (freshman) engineering students.
This would be the curriculum which used to be called “Fundamentals of Engineering” back when I was a student in the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech, several decades ago.
I missed this particular paragraph last time around:
The School of Engineering Education's First-Year Engineering Program is the entry point for all beginning engineering students. The mission of this student-oriented program is to recruit, advise, teach, and retain outstanding students for Purdue's College of Engineering. First-year engineering classes are taught in Purdue's i2i Learning Laboratory which offers an innovative and hands-on learning environment to prepare first-year engineering students for real world challenges.
That's a problem, no doubt.
Bookmark under more insanity.
Isn't that the "N" word with a speech impediment?
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