Saturday, October 28, 2006

College and Intellectual Rape

These days, many college educators have obvious political bias in the material they offer in the classroom. Often, this bias makes or breaks a student's grade. The student can choose to fight the bias and risk their grade or the student can write and perform to the bias, saving their grade but losing thier personal integrity. Is this right? Should students be forced to adhere to views they do not support? Should students be penalized for failure to agree with a professors point of view?

I am not talking about right and wrong here. Obviously there are disciplines such as math and science where answers are definitive. There are cut and dried responses that don't provide wiggle room for opinion. An example would be "Abraham Lincoln wrote the Gettysburg Address." Where the bias can sneak in is often with what used to be called liberal arts. Social sciences, history, literature, philosophy and even psychology can be manipulated through reading lists, lectures and expectations to create a student outcome that is defined by whether or not the student sticks to the expressed code. Is this a true liberal-in this conjecture it means free-education? Should professors not be held accountable for teaching a wide range of views rather than simply loading the course with reading that supports a narrow view?

I have had former students come back and tell me that they have experienced this in upscale private universities as well as state institutions. Regardless of the source, these schools are supported by federal dollars in the form of grants and scholarships. As faithful stewards,these institutions have a legal obligation to provide the best education possible. I am not sure that trying to indoctrinate students under the guise of education fulfills that obligation. In many respects this is a type of invasion. Many professors are using their personal bully pulpits to force students into taking views they cannot and do not hold for the duration of the class. If they were using similar methods to promote illegal activity it would be called brainwashing. But the force of the method, the resistance of some students and the outcome of resentment and fear resemble rape more than any other crime. How can we as parents, as taxpayers allow this to continue?

I am not supporting any sort of pogrom of professors based on political litmus tests. But I am recommending that universities and colleges be pro-active in the way they monitor their teaching staff. They need to demand reading lists, syllabi and lectures that expose students to the entire spectrum of intellectual thought, not just the limited range of liberal or conservative politics. By definition a university is expected to provide a "universal" source of knowledge, if we continue to limit our students by only telling them half the story, they in turn will produce increasingly flawed and limited solutions to the problems our nation and world will face in the future. Half the truth is half an education. We deserve more for our money.

1 comment:

Darren said...

Ideological litmus tests, when used to determine grades, are the very definition of closed-mindedness, bullying, and anti-intellectualism.