Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Too bad I'm not a Sociology major...

I'd totally have my graduate work planned out. Anyway, I would love to see this done, perhaps it already has been done, in which case, if you know of it -- point me in that direction.

I'm skeptical of Freed-Hardeman University, a little Church of Christ college in Henderson, TN. Any place whose philosophy major is roughly the same as a Bible major and does not appear to have room to seriously consider atheist arguments, and where discussing sex roles in marriage from a "Biblical" perspective is confused with actual sociology is going to result in Metra raising her eyebrows. And, you can guess the thoughts that ran through my mind while reading that women Bible majors "may" substitute a course called "The Christian Woman" or "Teaching the Bible to Children" for the sermon prep class for all them preacher boys. But I know a lot of people who have degrees from Freed and are quite competent in their fields. (Of course, they're a generation or two ahead of me and things might have changed for the worse as they did with the CofC private school in Columbia.)

Anyway, there's only so much of a sense of a college's academic rigor that one can get from perusing catalogs. What I want to see is someone, preferably agnostic, atheist, or undefinably strange embedded at Freed taking notes on classes. What's taught? How it's taught? Is there actual room for dissent and discussion? Do poli sci classes manage to spend more time discussing Romans 13 than the US Constitution? (Ok, that was Harding, where I had the heart-warming experience of being a pro-stud courtesy of my mother's misguided attempts to save my soul.)

I mean, seriously, I want to know what they teach in their "Muslim Evangelism" course. Given the number of complete misunderstanding of Islam floating about the CofC, I really want to know. And does the department actually think that offering only on course on non-Christian religions (barring Muslim Evangelism) is really going to leave any of their students with any understanding. And it gets better, "Teaching the Bible to Children" is for women only -- because obviously none of the men are going to be interested in doing lowly women's work. Gotta enforce that hierarchy even when there's no possible Biblical justification. And for the life of me, I can't figure out why any serious Bible major wouldn't want to take the senior seminar -- women again "may" substitute one of the women-only classes. I have a feeling that "may" actually means, must. But I don't really know, you see.

Besides, there would be other nuances that I couldn't even get from calling up the registrar and demanding to know what "may" actually means there. Like student attitudes, and what attitudes the college fosters. Are folk there capable of actually responding to criticism or do they stick their proverbial fingers in their ears and chant? I'm really quite curious. This is the stuff you need to be a participant observer to understand.

Basically, I want to know how a fundamentalist educational institution functions. What are the unstated goals and how do their achieve them? The effects of isolation on the student body? And their are perhaps better targets -- maybe BJU or Liberty -- but heck, FHU is my own personal morbid fascination. Besides Bob Jones and Liberty are overtly insane. Freed has the advantage of being a little more subtle. Maybe you could get away with something a little less in depth and get the necessary information. A documentary, like the Jesus Camp one I should probably try watching to Louis Theroux's documentary on the Westboro Baptist Church. (Warning, the video linked to is highly disturbing and flat-out sickening at points.)

And, yeah, I'd be the wrong person to do this. I'm not a good enough actor to keep from picking fights. (Although, you see, you'd want to pick some fight at some point to see how they respond.) And that whole, infiltrating the boy's club would be even more difficult for Metra. Maybe Dimitri could do it -- fake a Russian accent or something and hope no one notices I'm a rather high tenor.

So, yeah, any sociology folks out there looking for a project?


Anonymous said...

"Teaching the Bible to Children" is a women's only class, because it is taught by a woman. I took the class several years ago. Men are permitted to teach children. However, women are not permitted to teach men; hence, the women's only class.

WordK said...

Thanks for the first-hand information. I actually wish you had addressed more of the questions, and I appreciate that you left a response.

But are all classes taught by women restricted female students at FHU? Because my understanding of the logic behind the whole women shall never teach over men thing is that it applies to church settings -- not academic settings. Or is this one just special because it's in the Bible department? And wouldn't this class be about pedagogical technique rather than religious doctrine? If a woman could teach a man math for example, she can teach him pedagogy. And what about the men who want to teach the Bible to the children? Since they are to permitted and all.

And I still want to know how it works academically to have a system that does not encourage the same academic rigor among both males and females by suggesting that women not take the actual senior seminar class within their major. Are women even allowed to take the senior seminar in practice? In my experience with CofC, "women may" tends to equal "women must," but if someone can tell me otherwise with FHU, it'll give me a little more hope in the world.