Posts Tagged ‘dictators political bias

10
Jun
10

Dictators, reading lists and reasoning skills

Summer Reading

A professor becomes an intellectual dictator when he/she presents a philosophy or idea and demand his/her students conform his/her oral and written ideals.  In the world of education even placing an argument into the place where there are only two sides to choose from is purely misguided.  The point is to prepare students to think, write, and present their own thinking, not to conform to an agenda.  It is unethical for a professional academic to demand allegiance to a cause, especially a political cause.

Recently reading lists for incoming college students were looked at by the National Association of Scholars.  Which indicated that (1) the reading lists were not sufficiently challenging, and (2) had for the most part liberal political themes.  Omitted from most of the recommended reading lists were classic literature.  Quoting from Inside Higher Ed News:

“A group that advocates for a more rigorous and traditional college curriculum — released what it says is the most comprehensive analysis of what freshmen are being asked to read. The findings suggest that certain kinds of books — on multiculturalism and the environment — dominate these reading selections. And the study, called “Beach Books,” questions whether the choices of colleges are too similar, too left-leaning and not sufficiently challenging.”

This article goes on to describe the type of books recommended for students to read will allow them to have some basis of mutual topics of discussion.  The books are to be interesting, and focused on current events.  The question is do these books teach or preach a perspective? Let’s look at some of the titles:   Approaching the Quran:  the Early Revelations, No Impact Man: The Adventures of a Guilty Liberal, Children of Jihad, Brother I’m Dying, and the Black Dog of Fate.

I applaud the effort of school to promote scholarly reading and thinking.  Most of the college students I have worked with barely read anything but their textbooks, and most high school students probably won’t be looking at those recommended books.  Only those who actually are curious  and some of those rare folks who enter college thinking.  Most students have social lives, and important twits  and facebook or myspace to keep them busy.  Heck, “what is a book?” is more of the true question.

Professors are right in saying that most students are not well educated and capable of more than expressing opinions during class discussions, that these students are neither well read, have studied their texts, or done any research before speaking out in class.  There seems to be an attitude that all opinions are of equal weight from students.  Pamela Caughie writes in Academe Online the following:

Classrooms today seem to be more like talk shows, with the professor as host, than forums for intellectual inquiry. Students who don’t read the assignment and never set foot in a library feel every bit as entitled to express their opinions on an assigned reading as those who have read carefully and researched extensively. And because administrators pay more attention to ten point scales on student evaluation forms, and even chili peppers on RateYourProfessor.com, than to the kind of intellectual work that goes on in the classroom, too many teachers feel their job is to acknowledge any and all opinions offered on the topic being studied. Not to do so is to risk being exposed as someone intent on indoctrinating students rather than teaching them.

In this world of uneducated opinions, you find that students are really not well read and have little background with which to engage in debate or discussion.  They might be capable of talking about television, sports, and pop culture or worse video games, but academic reading is a prime means of developing analytical skills.  More books and less entertainment will prepare  students most.  More conformity and loss of reasoning prepares the world for totalitarianism.

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