Thomas E. Woods, Jr., is the New York Times bestselling author of 11 books, including The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History and Meltdown (on the financial crisis.) A senior fellow of the Ludwig von Mises Institute, Woods has appeared on MSNBC, CNBC, FOX News, FOX Business, C-SPAN, Bloomberg Television, and hundreds of radio programs... (Read More)
This morning I posted a ridiculous assignment given to students in U.S. History to 1877 at the Ammerman Campus of Suffolk Community College in Selden, New York. A student in that class wrote to ask me for help, so I posted his situation and invited comments.
I myself can’t decide quite what the proper course of action is. Saying what the professor wants to hear is an option, since after all the F he’d give you otherwise won’t have an asterisk next to it when it appears on your transcript. It’ll just appear as an F.
The other part of me thinks it might be worth writing a very solidly argued, well-written dissenting paper, and when I get graded down on it I publish it all over social media with my professor’s name, the grade I was given, and contact information for the dean of faculty.
Here is another suggestion, taken from the comments section of that blog item:
Write a paper superficially accepting the premises and not demurring from the professor’s built-in conclusions, but citing the strongest arguments possible against them. By which I mean something like “so and so argued the following [good argument]” but of course from the perspective of this paper, we can’t accept that for [bad reason]” – in other words, present the argument you really agree with as “the counter-argument” that you ostensibly “reject,” but present it in the strongest way possible. Present in the paper “the other side’s argument” (including the argument that the centralizing state is, far from a protector and guarantor of people’s human rights, its foremost violator, especially when unchecked by any competing political & pre-political authorities). In other words, be like Thomas Aquinas in presenting the “strongest arguments of the other side,” then “rebut” them by regurgitating the professor’s own arguments (made in class lectures or wherever), but in a way that demonstrates – without openly stating – that the professor’s arguments are weak and miss the mark, do not actually address the other side in any substantive way. Do not outright *write* that. Indeed, pretend to agree with the false premises, but let the substance of the paper speak for itself contrariwise. (Be sure to footnote citations for the best arguments, present them as quotes wherever possible.)
Just write the paper as if you’re presenting one theory among several others, but focus on the angle your professor is looking for. Meanwhile, write your own paper the way you really want to and use it as your first blog entry on WordPress. Then you can get good grades and graduate, and have an awesome blog to work on.