As students, our primary objective in any university is to learn a discipline with the hopes to use our knowledge in life. The reasons we come may be different, our personal goals may vary, but the pursuit of education is a common goal. What, then, can we do to make this desire a reality?
It is my observation that professors are becoming preachers, abandoning their role as educators in lieu of using their position as an opportunity to propagate their personal beliefs and philosophies. Instead of instilling tools like reason or logical and critical thinking, many professors simply ‘profess’ their own beliefs hoping the bright young minds of the classroom will absorb it without the cumbersome process of thought.
A perfect example of this was illustrated in my economics class this semester. When discussing equitability, we were informed that a perfect example would be the redistribution of wealth through income taxation. Without this device of modern economics, the distribution of wealth in this country would not be equitable.
If I was nave enough, I might have just believed her. Still reeling from the idea that redistribution of wealth is an economic tool of equitability, our professor continued with a tirade on the benefits of altruism and its role in modern economics.
She then implored us to think of a world without altruism or equitable distribution of wealth and resources. That was the first thing she said that would have made Adam Smith smile.
Although she may hold these beliefs to be true in her mind, they have no place in the classroom. If I were interested in redistribution of wealth and altruism, I would have taken a class in Marxism, or enrolled in a university in a country that supported these distorted beliefs as a basis of their economy, like Cuba.
Unfortunately, moments like these are not isolated, nor are they diminishing. Educators are less interested in your ability to think than they are in your ability to think like they do. If you have ever dared to write a paper in an English class with a subject that your professor disagreed with, you know exactly what I am talking about.
Because of the structure of the education system, we have few options. One can abandon their ability to think, and simply learn without question, viewing their professors as omnipotent. Another option would be to compromise long enough to appease your instructors, and graduate knowing that compromising your beliefs and values is an important key to success.
The only other option is to regard your moral and value systems as unwavering, and demand that your professors be people of integrity, and consider the duties of their position as one of the most important opportunities they have to protect the teachings of their discipline. Those professors that are truly professionals, and do perform their job with the highest level of proficiency and integrity should demand the same of their colleagues. Pacification of those unwilling to perform in a manner demanded by the position leads to the proverbial bad apple ruining the bunch.
In the microcosm that is Sam Houston State University, many of these philosophies are not dangerous, the dependence on logic is unnecessary, and it is easy to answer a question on a test without believing it to be true. However, when you take these lessons with you to the world of reality, will you be well prepared? Better yet, will the cost of tuition be paid by the price of compromise?
Jason D. Straughanstdjds13@shsu.edu