Politics and Culture After the Great War slideshow
Profs and Opinions
A couple of years ago, I was starting the first week of class, and a student said, "well, obviously you're a liberal". I asked him why he thought that, and he said, "your shoes". At that time, I wore Birkenstocks in class (my feet are size 8 wide). I laughed and pointed out that I was actually a radical. As I teach my Western Civ class:
Conservatives value stability at the expense of liberty and equality.I am a radical on most issues, although my biggest issue (the environment) is hard to categorize with this system, since I favor rather draconian measures if they force people to reduce, re-use, recycle.
Liberals value liberty at the expense of stability and equality.
Radicals value equality at the expense of liberty and stability.
About the same time, I listened to a Howard Zinn CD a friend gave me. In it, he said that professors are doing students a disservice when they do not share their point of view. After all, we are highly educated people, and if in our studies we have come to a particular perspective, it should be shared. There is an ethical responsibility that we need to fulfill.
Then today, I read this post from one of my favorite online people, Stephen Downes. Responding to whining that more college professors should be conservatives, Downes wrote:
If people want more right-wing teachers, there's a really simple way to do it: pay them more.
That way, you'll get teachers who are motivated by the money passing on capitalist values rather than people who are motivated by social service talking about cooperating and sharing, about rights and diversity.
So I am again rethinking my objective goals. I have been more open with students about my views, and have been clear indicating that they are my views, and that any stance supported by evidence is valued in my class. But what I do not know is whether that has made any difference, since the students themselves seem to have become more "left" in the past several years. Perhaps the extremes of our current executive have done that to them.
But knee-jerk liberalism is just as bad as knee-jerk conservatism. A student who nods in agreement with a leftist opinion, but doesn't understand its foundation, is just as uneducated as someone nodding conservatively.
Perhaps my role should not be so much sharing my perspective, as sharing my intellectual process so students know how I got to my view. Intellectualism, I'm thinking, not political affiliation, should be the point in education. I plan to keep that in mind.