Let Me Think For Myself
September 24, 2008
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We’ve all been there: that point mid-lecture, when your
professor switches gears from talking about microbiology to preaching about
politics. In some classes, with some professors, it almost seems inevitable. No
matter what topic is being discussed, they find some way to work in their
political opinions. I do not intend to infringe on any individual’s freedom of
speech. However, I do find it to be disturbing when a person (other than a
politician) uses his or her position of authority to not only promote their
political beliefs, but to idealize them.
Instructors should be encouraging students to develop their
own thoughts and ideas. Unfortunately, many students take on the “if my teacher
said it, it must be true” mentality. The majority of Americans are misinformed
or completely uninformed when it comes to our country’s political issues. The
future depends on the minds of today’s youth-especially the minds that are
supposed to be enlightened by college, but instead are being squandered by it.
This political brainwashing does not just happen on the
college level. Younger students, whose minds are even more malleable than our
own, are being negatively influenced by their teacher’s opinions. My sister,
who is a senior in high school, has a class in which the teacher is a huge fan
of Obama. Each night she brings home homework that is Obama-focused. She has
researched his background, his policies, and his overall views. And while
Barack Obama has definitely stirred things up around the nation, last time I
checked, there was another candidate named John McCain. These students aren’t
even going to realize that their teacher is being biased. They will simply
accept that the only candidate who matters is the one that they have studied.
If voicing an opinion was the furthest a professor ever
went, this would not be an issue. However, rather than simply stating an
opinion, or working it casually into conversation, select professors teach their opinions. They treat their
very biased beliefs as facts, and present them in such a manner. Not only is
this inaccurate, but it can also be insulting to a student who may not share
those particular views.
I’ve often heard that if a teacher tells you his political
views, he is automatically a Democrat. Obviously, this is a great
generalization and oversimplification, but there is some truth behind it. In
Connecticut, or even in the Northeast, the majority of the population has
democratic beliefs, leaving Republicans in the minority. Therefore, individuals
(professors included) often assume that they are surrounded by a group of
Democrats. This leads those Democrats to feel comfortable in preaching their
opinions, while leaving the few-and-far-between Republicans much more cautious.
It would be impossible to attend classes in a completely
unbiased atmosphere. Teachers should feel free to give their opinions, but only
if they are willing to accept others’ opinions as well. Political opinions do
not need to include criticism, hatred, accusations, or assumptions. And most
importantly, opinions should be given, not taught.
-Melanie Rovinsky, Staff Writer