Professors aren’t indoctrinating students, but some Republicans wish they would

By Robert Mann

“I am now ashamed of my time at LSU with this type of biased writing coming out of the [mass communication] department,” a peeved reader wrote in an email to me last week. “Now I can see where these young indoctrinated kids are getting this when I read this article.”

I often receive such comments. They’re frustrating but understandable. Many readers haven’t sat in a college class in decades. Some didn’t attend college. Others have children at LSU and elsewhere who spout ideas that are foreign — even radical — to their parents.

A natural inclination is to blame professors for indoctrinating Junior. Some parents shake their heads and walk away. Many engage their children in debate or discussion. Others fire angry emails to the liberal professor whose columns appear in their Sunday paper. And a few who are elected officials write bills to quash academic freedom.

Take the Iowa Legislature, for example, where a Republican state senator, Mark Chelgren, has introduced legislation to stop the state’s public universities from hiring new professors “if the percentage of the faculty belonging to one political party would exceed by 10 percent the percentage of faculty belonging to the other political party.”

Chelgren’s bill, similar to legislation in the North Carolina Senate, is aimed at professors, like me (I’m now a registered independent), who teach journalism and also those in the social sciences. The suspicion is that we plant dangerous liberal ideas into the fertile ground of our students’ untrained minds.

That’s what U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos told the Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland on Thursday (Feb. 23). Addressing college students in attendance, she said, “The faculty, from adjunct professors to deans, tell you what to do, what to say, and more ominously, what to think.”

I suppose such notions are reasonable coming from people who’ve spent no time on a college campus, but they are an outrageous caricature of what really happens in the classroom. The secretary of education, of all people, should know better than to traffic in such claptrap.

Parents who worry how about how college influences their children’s worldview would do far better by keeping them away from other college students, not professors they see only two or three times a week.

Trust me, by age 18, college students form opinions about public affairs without help from professors. I’m not suggesting that they don’t continue to evolve politically, socially and otherwise, but the students I’ve taught never arrived needing my help to reach informed opinions.

Continue reading on at this link.

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6 Responses to Professors aren’t indoctrinating students, but some Republicans wish they would

  1. Stephen Winham says:

    […Secretary Betsy DeVos told the Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland on Thursday (Feb. 23). Addressing college students in attendance, she said, “The faculty, from adjunct professors to deans, tell you what to do, what to say, and more ominously, what to think.”]

    That has to be one of the most appalling, hypocritical examples of projection I’ve seen lately. Change “The faculty, from adjunct professors to deans,” to “The Trump administration” and you have the truth.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Stephen Winham says:

    I am compelled to add this personal anecdote from my freshman year in college. I honestly don’t find it impossible to think we could see this kind of thing again:

    In the mid-late 60s, students attending Louisiana state colleges and universities were required to take a course entitled, “Americanism vs. Communism.” It was a 1 credit hour course and its obvious goal was indoctrination – We had to tamp down this hippie thing before it got out of hand, you understand. We had one paper and a final exam. The theme of the paper was, “What is Right About America.” I was a kid unhappy with a lot of things going on at the time and could not bring myself to write what the theme required so I wrote a paper from the reverse angle. The professor, a U. S. Air Force officer, gave me an “A” on the paper, but wrote me a note to the effect the grade was for the writing only. The final exam was a piece of cake, but we did not get our grades on it, per se. When I checked my grade (in those days grades were posted on office doors) I should not have been shocked to find I received a big, fat “F.” Needless to say, when I took the course the next semester I played the correct role and got an “A.” Now, that’s indoctrination.


  3. hawkoliver says: Oh, you’re going to love this!


  4. Michael Wade says:

    Mr. Mann is correct about college students, and so is Mr. Winham. His generation (mine) got indoctrinated in high school with Americanism v. Communism and the McCarthyites saw to it that it continued in college. What they desired was that students get only their revealed “truth” and that they suspend any further effort at thinking for themselves. That’s the real fear behind these attacks on teachers, then and now. It is the fear that our young people will learn to think for themselves about the the standard “truths” they have been indoctrinated with. Most professors I know from my time in academe have no interest in teaching dogma of any sort; they do have a keen interest in teaching their students how to learn, and think, for themselves.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. martybankson says:

    So we find out who the true “snowflakes” are: the inflexible, dyed-in-the-wool red-staters and anti-intellectuals who are shocked by the heretical thinking coming from their young-uns who’ve left their comfortable apple pie-and-Jesus-and the American Way suburban nest. Sorry, Mom and Dad, it’s called critical thinking.
    Possibly a trigger warning in the form of a parental consent statement on all future college admission applications would be in order:
    “To the parents or legal guardians of applicant_______ Be advised that given the diversity of human learning that is available in higher education, _______may be exposed to instructors, books, other students, and possibly paid agitators whose opinions differ from yours; and the applicant may or may not relate them to you. Sign here: x______.
    This should should be enough to cover you, Bob. So just keep it up.


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