Saturday, February 12, 2005

must . . . STOP . . . LIBERALS

because a mind is a terrible thing

States Considering Legislation to Counter Perceived Liberalism on College Campuses

In an effort to "stem the tide of professors sending students out in the world to vote against the very public policy that their parents have elected us for", Ohio State Senator Larry Mumper has sponsored SB 24 which seems fairly innocuous until you get to Senator Mumper's rationale of trying to prevent students from developing liberal ideological beliefs and Section (C):
Faculty and instructors shall not infringe the academic freedom and quality of education of their students by persistently introducing controversial matter into the classroom or coursework that has no relation to their subject of study and that serves no legitimate pedagogical purpose.
Now I have no problem agreeing that Professors should not be introducing subject matter that has no relationship to the coursework under study, but based on Mumper's comments, I have a feeling that anything that doesn't fit neatly with certain agendas may well suddenly become suspect. As for "persistently introducing controversial matter," some coursework is based solely on debate of controversial matter and the subjectivity of interpretation is most likely to turn into litigation or homogenized lectures which are diametrically opposed to the purpose of getting an education.

The proposal would prohibit public and private college professors from presenting opinions as fact or penalizing students for expressing their views. Anyone who's been to college has probably experienced the professor who graded their paper based on the views presented not the quality of the argument and submitted work (in my case, it was my Teratology Professor who wanted a verbatim regurgitation of his lecture and did not appreciate that half the class submitted a response with citations to support a slightly different conclusion - especially since this was consistent with a certain Pharmacology Professor's lecture); this sort of thing shouldn't happen but it does and is not the domain of liberal vs conservative, it's the difference between someone who wants to educate and someone who wants their ego stroked. Additionally, since the statute applies to private colleges can the legislature ensure that Religious colleges provide equal time for the advancement of ideas that run counter to religious doctrine? If they cannot, they need to either limit the bill to Public Universities/Colleges or scrap it all together as there is no way to apply this equally as supposedly intended.

Otterbein College sophomore Charis Bridgman tends to keep quiet in class if she thinks her professor might disagree with her Christian-influenced ideas. "They might chastise me, or not even listen to my opinion or give me a chance to explain," she said.
She hasn't spoken up and is making an assumption without even trying and this is the Professor's fault? Charis, you're 19 and supposedly going to college to get an education, speak up already, but know that if you think your view may be controversial/not well received you need to be prepared:
  1. Think about how best to present your views (you're more likely to be treated with respect if you are respectful yourself)
  2. Support your position clearly
  3. Open debate means being prepared to take criticism (and it's not always constructive)
  4. Most importantly, the best way to test your own beliefs is to have them challenged (this helps you delineate the nuances & shore up your arguments; research the opposing view with an open mind, this does not mean you're expected to change your mind it means you're expected to learn and understand the issue and controversy as a whole - this will also help you in those time in which you will have to respectfully disagree).
You may also find that the Professor you expect to chastise you has an increased respect for you just by virtue of the fact you spoke up, presented your case, addressed dissention and stood your ground with grace. What you learn from the disagreement and debate is invaluable and you're going to college to learn, correct?

"I see students coming out having gone in without any ideological leanings one way or another, coming out with an indoctrination of a lot of left-wing issues," said bill sponsor Sen. Larry Mumper, a former high school teacher whose Republican party controls the Legislature.
Umm, so it would be OK if they were indoctrinated with Conservative propaganda?
The mood on college campuses varies and pendulum swings back and forth. Some colleges are extremely liberal as a whole and some extremely conservative; most have a mix.

For a man who used to teach HS, he knows little about children and young adults. Teenagers and young adults tend to be idealistic and somewhat naive, as they have little real-life experience to help them put things in perspective. As such, this makes them more likely to have "liberal" leanings trying to make sure everyone is treated fairly and equally regardless. Many kids don't come across views dissimilar to their own until college and frequently check out different groups of people with different views as their own are still developing. Just like teenagers, college students are still more influenced by their circle of friends than their Professors or courses. Additionally, as people gain life experience, they run into the gray areas in which what is right and wrong isn't so obvious; this is why they need to be able to think critically so they can define their own views. In my own life, I was a bit of a "bleeding-heart liberal" (just shy of granola) as a child, picked up some "conservative" beliefs as I started to understand the news and was pretty much moderate starting in college until relatively recently when the Neo-Cons and "Religious Right" started scaring the Hell out of me and had that reactionary jump to the left. Propaganda and indoctrination (regardless of whetehr it's Conservative or Liberal) only works well (and in a sustainable fashion) on those afraid/too lazy to think for themselves.
Mumper said he is concerned universities are not teaching the values held by taxpaying parents and students.

Gee Senator, I'm glad you weren't my "teacher" in HS, since you don't seem to understand that Universities aren't supposed to teach "values", let alone those held by taxpayers. University Professors are not elected officials whose job is to further government programs and advance the political needs of a constituency. The goal of a University is to educate those enrolled there; this means presenting ideas, theories, facts within the context of a curriculum. Just in case you don't have a dictionary handy, I've provided a critical definition for you:

    1. To develop the innate capacities of, especially by schooling or instruction.
    2. To provide with knowledge or training in a particular area or for a particular purpose: decided to educate herself in foreign languages; entered a seminary to be educated for the priesthood.
      a. To provide with information; inform: a campaign that educated the public about the dangers of smoking.
      b. To bring to an understanding or acceptance: hoped to educate the voters to the need for increased spending on public schools.
    4. To stimulate or develop the mental or moral growth of.
    5. To develop or refine (one's taste or appreciation, for example).


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