Religious Children Make Better Students. But Are They Also Less Ambitious?

In the first part of her book God, Grades, and Graduation, Ilana Horwitz puts forward a simple argument: religious children do better at school than their nonreligious peers. Michal Leibowitz praises Horwitz’s “uncommonly good” research, which manages to disentangle religion from socioeconomic factors, and combines quantitative analysis with the qualitative data that come from numerous interviews. But Leibowitz is less convinced by Horwitz’s other conclusions:

In the less impressive second half of her book, Horwitz discusses her other, “paradoxical” finding: that the same intense religiosity that boosts educational achievement across all socioeconomic groups also lowers academic ambition among some, making more affluent religious teens likely to attend less-selective colleges.

Religious girls, she tells us, “yearn for the comfort of the familiar.” They are “happy doing what is expected” and content to follow “the path laid out for girls” in their families and communities. But girls raised by at least one Jewish parent, [another cohort the book examines], couldn’t be further from this, she tells us. They are ambitious, career-driven, and free-thinking and display an early focus on attending a highly selective university. Consider teenager Stacy, who wants to attend “a good college—like an Ivy League kind of college” and then law school. How adventurous! How bold! Surely this ambition of Stacy’s arose spontaneously, was freely chosen and pursued? No, of course not.

Throughout the book, Horwitz operates within a paradigm in which education is always good, more education is always better, and education at a selective institution is always best. (Horwitz herself holds four degrees, including a masters from Columbia and a doctorate from Stanford). This leads to some unforced errors. . . . The backdrop of intellectual and cultural assumptions that Horwitz clearly shares with most of her peers blinds her to what should have been obvious without any statistical study: not every American high-school student is a rational prestige maximizer when it comes to education.

Read more at Jewish Review of Books

More about: Education, Religion


Universities Are in Thrall to a Constituency That Sees Israel as an Affront to Its Identity

Commenting on the hearings of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce on Tuesday about anti-Semitism on college campuses, and the dismaying testimony of three university presidents, Jonah Goldberg writes:

If some retrograde poltroon called for lynching black people or, heck, if they simply used the wrong adjective to describe black people, the all-seeing panopticon would spot it and deploy whatever resources were required to deal with the problem. If the spark of intolerance flickered even for a moment and offended the transgendered, the Muslim, the neurodivergent, or whomever, the fire-suppression systems would rain down the retardant foams of justice and enlightenment. But calls for liquidating the Jews? Those reside outside the sensory spectrum of the system.

It’s ironic that the term colorblind is “problematic” for these institutions such that the monitoring systems will spot any hint of it, in or out of the classroom (or admissions!). But actual intolerance for Jews is lathered with a kind of stealth paint that renders the same systems Jew-blind.

I can understand the predicament. The receptors on the Islamophobia sensors have been set to 11 for so long, a constituency has built up around it. This constituency—which is multi-ethnic, non-denominational, and well entrenched among students, administrators, and faculty alike—sees Israel and the non-Israeli Jews who tolerate its existence as an affront to their worldview and Muslim “identity.” . . . Blaming the Jews for all manner of evils, including the shortcomings of the people who scapegoat Jews, is protected because, at minimum, it’s a “personal truth,” and for some just the plain truth. But taking offense at such things is evidence of a mulish inability to understand the “context.”

Shocking as all that is, Goldberg goes on to argue, the anti-Semitism is merely a “symptom” of the insidious ideology that has taken over much of the universities as well as an important segment of the hard left. And Jews make the easiest targets.

Read more at Dispatch

More about: Anti-Semitism, Israel on campus, University