A Liberal Education

Friday, October 14, AD 2011

The ideological orientation of  academia to the political left is an old story.   Certainly such ideological conformity was well established back in my halcyon undergraduate and law school days at the University of Illinois, 1975-1982.  Outside of my ROTC courses, I was guaranteed to be the most outspoken conservative in any class I attended.  In some classes of course, geography for example, politics never came up, but when political issues arose they would almost always be presented with a left of center, sometimes far left of center, viewpoint.  With the same shy, retiring nature that is always on full display on this blog, I always felt compelled to respond, which included, on one memorable occasion, interrupting a class room political rant by one of my education professors at the five minute mark with the comment:  “That is garbage sir!  Sheer garbage!”  The look on the shocked faces of my classmates will remain a cherished memory until my dying day!

To be fair to my professors and instructors, I never thought that my grades were marked down because of my political opinions.  ( The only time I thought I received an unfair grade was due to my expressing the opinion in a class on the Civil War that if the battle of Gettysburg had been won by the Confederacy that Union morale might have collapsed.  My professor in that course took a great deal of umbrage at that suggestion!)  However, I did think the politicization of too many classroom discussions wasted time, and having only one point of view presented encouraged too many of my colleagues to engage in group think, rather than to think for themselves, which of course is one of the prime purposes of a decent education.  It was also a disservice I believe to the cause of political liberalism in this country.  Too many liberals get intellectually lazy in college where their views are not challenged and, unlike many conservatives, they do not learn to sharpen their arguments  in the face of hostile viewpoints.

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