Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Policy against Liberal Bias in the Classroom in PA

Two Pennsylvania universities (Penn State and Temple) have instituted policies that give students pathways to file grievances against professors who have presented biased classroom lessons. It turns out to be a procedure to protect "conservative" students from the "liberal" bias of their professors, which conservative activists have labeled "liberal indoctrination." So, when they grow up and learn things from their parents, churches, or local politicians, that is not "indoctrination" as well? There is a degree to which much learning is indoctrination (whether "liberal" or "conservative" or whatever), and we should avoid creating cookie cutter students who arrive at the exact same conclusions that their professors give them. But more than anything higher education is about getting students to think for themselves, and often that means breaking down previously (and dearly) held conceptions, disabusing them of what they thought they knew. While indoctrination is not allowing students to think for themselves, neither is allowing them to cling to previously held notions that can and should be challenged. With a policy such as this, will professors have less freedom in disabusing students of previously held notions? Although religion courses have not turned up among the complaints, I can just see them rolling in if someone like myself began breaking down the historical development of the Bible alongside the equally divinely inspired literatures of Egypt, Mesopotamia, Assyria, Greece, and Rome.

See the discussion in the Chronicle here.

1 comment:

James Pate said...

I'm not sure if I'd go as far as that policy does, but it is trying to address a genuine problem. Liberalism seems to be just assumed in a lot of academia. And students who dare to challenge it are often given lower grades. Sure, professors should be free to challenge students. But liberalism should also be freely challenged, which often doesn't happen because of academia's politically-correct atmosphere.