Higher Education: Here’s a surprise
OK, I’m being facetious in the title. Well, at least for those who’ve been paying attention. For the rest, this may actually come as a surprise:
Political activism has drawn the University of California into an academic death spiral. Too many professors believe their job is to "advance social justice" rather than teach the subject they were hired to teach. Groupthink has replaced lively debate. Institutions that were designed to stir intellectual curiosity aren’t challenging young minds. They’re churning out "ignorance." So argues a new report, "A Crisis of Competence: The Corrupting Effect of Political Activism in the University of California," from the conservative California Association of Scholars.
My guess is, and I think this would be easily substantiated, that the U of C system is just an example of the problem, not the sole problem. (The study is here.)
Of course the left has a ready answer for all of this:
UC Berkeley political science Professor Wendy Brown rejected that argument. (Yes, she hails from the left, she said, but she doesn’t teach left.) The reason behind the unbalance, she told me, is that conservatives don’t go to grad school to study political science. When conservatives go to graduate school, she added, they tend to study business or law.
"If the argument is that what is going on is some kind of systematic exclusion," then critics have to target "where the discouragement happens."
So, other than “stereotypes are us”, Prof. Brown has no real explanation. Because, of course, unless all “conservatives” go to business and law and none to political science (which we know isn’t true), the problem isn’t about who does or doesn’t got into grad school, but who gets hired by universities, isn’t it? And most people with a modicum of common sense know that most people who hire have a tendency to hire people like what? Like them.
And anyway, it appears its not really about learning or acquiring skills such as critical thinking:
At the same time, grades have risen. "Students often report that all they must do to get a good grade is regurgitate what their activist professors believe," quoth the report.
Hardly an atmosphere (akin to a “hostile workplace”, no?)in which a “conservative” would feel comfortable and certainly not one in which a critical thinker would be welcome.
Peter Berkowitz took a look at the study and concluded that the result was much worse than imagined:
The politicization of higher education by activist professors and compliant university administrators deprives students of the opportunity to acquire knowledge and refine their minds. It also erodes the nation’s civic cohesion and its ability to preserve the institutions that undergird democracy in America.
The analysis begins from a nonpolitical fact: Numerous studies of both the UC system and of higher education nationwide demonstrate that students who graduate from college are increasingly ignorant of history and literature. They are unfamiliar with the principles of American constitutional government. And they are bereft of the skills necessary to comprehend serious books and effectively marshal evidence and argument in written work.
In other words, they’re indoctrinated and not taught to think critically. And, per the study, they’re actually ignorant of “the institutions that undergird democracy in America”. That would, in part, explain their ‘shock’ at the validity of the arguments against ObamaCare (so there’s your example of the point).
Granted, this is but one study, it’s by a conservative group and there may be a bit of confirmation bias concerned on my part, but I’d love to see the left really document an actual challenge to its substantive points instead of doing what they usually do – wave it away. While it may be one study by a conservative group, it does note that which Berkowitz points out – “numerous studies” of the system demonstrate the facts listed, i.e. an increasing ignorance of history and literature, unfamiliarity with the principles of American constitutional government, lacking skills necessary to comprehend serious writing, marshal evidence and argue their point effectively. Or, in other words, think critically. Wait, isn’t that what universities are supposed to teach?
Start there. Explain.