Lanterns: Indoctrination does no service to students

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Indoctrination does no service to students

I attend a college in southern California.  If you’re a conservative, that can be an interesting experience, to put it mildly.  At times, it's amusing, frustrating, and sometimes both.  Professors who decide that their position is a bully pulpit for political indoctrination are a recurring issue at colleges and universities all over the nation.

This past week, I got into it with my professor, again, over Trump. I didn't even vote for the guy, and yet, I find myself constantly having to defend him against the hysteria of liberals. This time, it was about Trump stating that it was up to the Israelis and Palestinians to decide whether they wanted a one or two state solution. 

I don't think that's extreme or irrational--  we simply cannot force a solution on them any more than a marriage counselor can force a solution on an arguing couple. It wasn't decisive or a plan for victory, but I really can't fault Trump for that particular statement.

All this underscores the other fundamental issue I have--  the university I go to receives taxpayer funds. My tax dollars are paying for this, and so are yours. 

The “current events” segment of my class, Modern History of the Middle East, devolves past even the pretense of teaching, and is just political propaganda which I can get for free on Huffington Post. Can you imagine the outcry if a professor was using class time to talk about how evil and stupid he thought everything Obama recently did was? 

The outcry would be completely justified--  students aren't paying for political opinions. Why should voters be forced to subsidize a political message that goes against their beliefs?

On the one hand, I'm clearly burning bridges and swimming against the current-- all to defend a man I don't even like or feel very confident in myself! On the other, I simply don't have it in me to remain silent in the face of having my time and money (and the money of taxpayers) wasted so that nonsense can be spewed demonizing the Christianity, the West, America, Israel. People have the right to feel any way they want to about those things, but those are opinions, and as such, should not be taught as the unquestionable gospel truth.

This isn't even the first time I've been down this road.  My professor for US History 102 (1862-present) told us ( with a straight face, in an awe-inspiring, dramatic voice one imagines a pastor saying “Jesus”) that the solution to these issues was "government." Eventually, he blew up at me, and I wound up going to the Dean along with other students, some of whom were liberals, who felt as I do about outright political propagandizing in the classroom.

This isn’t just one-sided and biased; it is hurting the students, including the liberal ones.  Is higher education supposed to indoctrinate students in the way a seminary would, towards an unquestioned orthodoxy, or is it supposed to provoke them to think for themselves and learn about the world around them?  

I have been raised under the notion that public schooling is for the second purpose.  Nobody grows when they simply have their pre-existing biases confirmed in an echo chamber, no matter how absurd.  If the liberal worldview is so truthful and correct, then surely that is self-evident?  If liberal orthodoxy is the holy gospel that liberals make it out to be, then surely they have nothing to fear from questions or dissent?  Did not even Paul the Apostle encourage the Bereans to double check what he was saying?

If liberal ideology is about tolerance, and conservatives are nasty and just mean (which to a liberal is a worse epithet than evil), why resort to groupthink?  Shouldn’t the enlightened truth have to rely less on creating an intimidating environment that stifles any kind of real debate?  Even in articles of religious faith, it is important to ask questions, since growing in the faith involves satisfactorily answering those questions, and being the wiser for it. Shouldn’t that same standard be applied to education, as well?

Written by Joshua Nybo

1 Responses

Postscript regarding that professor: I spoke with him after class, and he agreed that some of his language was more in the vein of telling students how to think rather than to think for themselves, and apologized. I'm sure he'll continue to make me grit my teeth, but if he tones that aspect down I'll deal. I won't be recording him or anything, in part because that would go nuclear in terms of drama if it went viral and Fox hit the story; but also because the reference to seminary made me think of the words of Jesus: "If your brother sins against you, go and confront him privately. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over." - Matthew 18:15

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