I was pretty smug about what I believed when I went to college.
There, I encountered a number of professors who agreed with my smug, self-satisfied beliefs – and one who challenged them, assaulted them, turned them on their heads.
Of course, I went into college a liberal – and Doctor Blake was a self-described “monarchist”. Doctor Blake cajoled me into reading Crime and Punishment, Modern Times by Paul Johnson, The Gulag Archipelago, and PJ O’Rourke’s essays (the ones that later became Republican Party Reptile). I entered college as a kid who had been just too young to vote in 1980 – and in 1984 I voted for Reagan (and in 1996 may have done it again, although I don’t remember).
The challenge to my “beliefs” was a whack up side my intellectual head. It was also one of the things I went to college for in the first place.
Of course, Dr. Blake wasn’t on a mission to create young Republicans – indeed, I barely remember him discussing current events or politics in class. He was not on a mission to indoctrinate kids, and while when called upon he did talk about why he was a Republican and why the Democrats were wrong, it was never as an abuse of his position, at the front of a classroom.
Which is where the line needs to be – and all too often isn’t.
So as I join with King Banaian and Janet Beihoffer in hoping you can attend Indoctrinate U at the Oak Street Cinema starting this evening, I’ll also draw your attention to the latest Katherine Kersten piece. Not every professor, it seems, is as forebearing as Dr. Blake:
t’s become a common complaint that U.S. campuses are home to a stifling liberal orthodoxy where contrary beliefs are persecuted. Doyle says it’s no illusion.
A new film, “Indoctrinate U,” documenting that atmosphere, opens near campus tomorrow.
Bethany Dorobiala, a senior political science major at the U of M, knows just what Doyle is talking about. Dorobiala was one of the few students who agreed to speak on the record about the problem.
In many courses, Dorobiala says, professors load up reading lists with books that reflect their ideological agenda. “If you speak up in class and present an alternative view, you may risk being ridiculed by a professor twice your age with a PhD.,” she said. “Students who agree with the professor’s politics are regularly praised and encouraged.”
Dorobiala has encountered this disregard for intellectual diversity in classes outside of political science. “In geology class, I had a teacher who made side comments bashing President Bush,” she said. A rigid orthodoxy prevails on issues as disparate as the death penalty and global warming, she says, and some professors regularly pontificate on topics outside their discipline.
Read the whole thing. Check out the movie.
Challenge is good. Abuse is bad.