Saturday, April 09, 2011

Northwestern Professor Protess , Our Tweedy Fagin of Medill

Fagin: Clever dogs, clever dogs. Never blowed on old Fagin.

David Protess:

Maybe the Chicago Innocence Project will be going great and I won't want to go back (to Northwestern) because of the hassle ... Maybe it won't succeed and I will want to go back. Or maybe I'll want to go somewhere else, go to some other university. All of my options are on the table.

Chicago Tribune Editorial April 9, 2011:

If Protess misled administrators and attorneys in this case—and it appears he did—what does that say about all those cases he has worked on with students? That question will linger at least until prosecutors and McKinney's lawyers resolve what happened in his case.

That day can't come soon enough.

Had Anita Alvarez caved to the limitless media enabling of Professor David Protess, the Fagin of Medill, all would be just dandy and it ain't. I have long suspected that David Protess was a later-day "kidsman." A Kidsman was a 19th Century recruiter of children for training and guiding pickpockets and cut-throats. The vicious Bill Sykes was one of Fagin's students. The Artful Dodger, who befriends the naive orphaned child of privilege Oliver Twist, is on his way to the next level of crime. Fagin beats and threatens his "children" with warnings of dire consequences for "peaching," or "blowing" on Fagin's activities.

The "children" are rewarded for doing Fagin's bidding.

When Anita Alvarez initially petitioned for Fagin Protess's student e-mails, notes and records pertinent to the McKinney case, the academic, journalistic and legal communities marshaled a formidable army of protest and calumnies leveled at Anita Alvarez.

CNN, Huffington Post, Salon, The New York Times, MSNBC, joined the Chicago Tribune editorial board in terming Cook County States Attorney Alvarez a Gestapo bully. A former Federal Judge, of dubious record and achievement, wrote frequent attacks on Alvarez and defences of Fagin Protess. Click my post title and view a few.

Most telling were the star Protess pupils, now rewarded with CNN, AP, and other blue-chip journalistic postings. The kids did alright by Medill, The Innocence Project and old Fagin himself -Professor Dave Protess.

The Innocence Project and Northwestern University have been besmeared by the very advocacy they demand - outcomes be damned. That is as old as John Dewey, the bespectacled avuncular father of generations of Progressive Fagins.

Fagin was the leader of gangs of children, in Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist, patterned on the historical 19th Century criminal Ickey Solomon of London.

What does American philosopher and granddad of American public education have to do with David Protess's Procrustean pedagogy? Plenty.

John Dewey holds that Inquiry is Truth - play, if you will, the root of the Laboratory Method in education that established the Lab School of University of Chicago - play long enough and arrive at the original point of inquiry.

The start of an inquiry is an indeterminate situation, usually coming from some practical matter ( convicted felon we want out of jail to raise a the larger issue of systemic failure of American Justice). The first step is to getting a clearer and more specific picture of the problem; the indeterminate situation becomes a “problematic situation”. The inquiry then proceeds by coming up with possible solutions to the problem That is, hypothesis that might help to act upon in the problematic situation. Evaluation then takes place; possible consequences of different solutions are considered, and by doing this the relative value of the solutions are estimated. The final test is when a solution actually is tried as a guide to action. The question of truth and falsehood come into play at this last stage of inquiry, and it is dependent on whether the consequences of acting upon the hypothesis under test are such that they resolve the problem and settle the indeterminate situation. Here, it is important to keep in mind the fundamental that role that Dewey ascribes to the indeterminate situation. It is our conceptions of this situation that guide the rest of the inquiry, and that determines how to evaluate and praise ideas and hypotheses. The indeterminate situation is the beginning of an inquiry, but also controls it throughout [p.207]. Coming back to the correspondence relation, it could be said to hold between the between the first and last stage of inquiry.

The opposite of John Dewey was the mathematician and philosophical historian Bertrand Russell whose rigorous methodologies eschewed "play" for study. Russell takes apart Dewey's playful assertions that begin and end in the very same place. Dewey, and his child Fagin Professor Protess "look" into the assertion that the American Justice System is flawed, because it is sytemnically and intrinsically racist, brutal, dishonest, lazy and corrupt - "What do you think, kids?"

Here is Bertarnd Russell's deconstruction of Dewey in summary by Swedish student of philosophy Björn Östbring:

His (Russell) version of the ( Dewey) correspondence theory is the classical one: the relation is between statements, propositions or beliefs to an independent reality, to empirical facts. A statement is true if what is referred to also posses the properties that the statement asserts. Dewey’s theory is obviously radically different from this, and in Russell’s view it does not even deserve to be called a correspondence theory. Russell’s description of Dewey’s whole theory of inquiry and truth is as follows (2): individuals engage in inquiry with the purpose of better interacting with their environment. In an inquiry, “assertions” are tools, and these assertions can be “warranted” to different degrees. The degree to which an assertion is warranted is determined by their ability to produce the desired results. During inquiry assertions can come to be replaced by better assertions, and sometimes they are the very means that lead to better assertions. The term “better” simply means that it produces more of the desirable results, lets us cope better with our environment, and hence “better” could basically be substituted with “more warranted”. An inquiry does not end; no assertion is the best for all times. The important point in this summary is that an assertion is warranted if it produces the desired results, and that the idea of truth thus loses its static and privileged nature.

Dewey and Protess begin inquiry with the conclusion and all the rest in between is just "play." What student would not rather play than work? Bertrand Russell's logical positivism is damned hard work.

Deweyesque inquiry is tailor made for a Fagin and advocacy journalism and education provides the charming "Master" with high moral ground and an embracing protective laissez faire attitude

Unlike the probity of Russell, the Dewey trained journalists, scholars, and academics will apply no further "inquiry" to other Fagins. Protess, now in disgrace with Fortune and Men's eyes will be an anomaly. A freak.

While the Medill engine will trot out more Heater cases and our Justice System will be further deconstructed in the advocacy playland that is John Dewey's Progressive America, David Protess will disappear into the shadows. Nothing to see here, folks! Inquiry? We don't need no stinkin' Inquiry! Right, Judge Stinky Sarokin?

Police, prosecutors, judges and juries will be villainized and criminals will always have much more benefits than doubts and greater Fagins than David Protess will threaten and reward more students - so long as they don't "peach," or "blow" to the cops.

Americans are fair-minded, but not really all that stupid. No one wants an innocent man punished, but no one wants any and all faith in our justice system destroyed by Fagins and an equally culpable media. We can thank States Attornney Alvarez for sticking to her guns during this entire shabby inquiry.

Fagin is described as "disgusting" to look at. He is the leader of a group of children, the Artful Dodger and Charley Bates among them, whom he teaches to make their livings by pickpocketing and other criminal activities in exchange for a roof over their heads. At the time of the novel, he is said by another character, Monks, to have already made criminals out of "scores" of children who grow up to live—or die—committing the same crimes as adults. Bill Sikes, one of the major villains of the novel, is hinted to be one of Fagin's old pupils, and Nancy, Sikes' girlfriend and sex worker clearly was.
Whilst portrayed as relatively humorous, he is nonetheless a self-confessed miser who, despite the amount he has acquired over the years from the work of others, does very little to improve the squalid lives of the children he takes in, allowing them to smoke pipes and drink gin "with the air of middle-aged men". In the second chapter of his appearance, it is shown, albeit when talking to himself, that he cares less about those children who are eventually hanged for their crimes and more about the fact that they do not "peach" on him and the other children

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