Gotta Get ‘Em While They’re Young! — The James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal

How it’s done and what’s being done in academe these days.

The college classroom is a major front in the growing culture war between right and left. Those on the right view much of what is taught in the humanities or social sciences as indoctrination. Those on the left—who dominate the academy—see little to complain about. They favor a definition of academic freedom that is so broad that it blurs the lines between scholarship and advocacy. After all, who is to say what is political activism and what is education?

But the division between indoctrination and education is actually quite stark. Education presents an objective inquiry into a topic. It deliberately presents opposing perspectives, where they exist, and allows students to derive their own beliefs from the light of facts and logic. It does not demand that every issue have a single, definitive solution.

Indoctrination, on the other hand, seeks to convert the audience to a specific ideology, which cannot be contested. This is frequently accomplished through distortion of facts and the avoidance of alternate perceptions.

It’s like a big mind-bending exercise, throughout the country.

For instance:

An academic program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the minor in Social and Economic Justice, illustrates the difference between education and indoctrination. While the program description claims that it is “designed for students who want to better understand how to think about issues of justice,” it is possible for a student to avoid any contact with meaningful intellectual discourse on justice. On the other hand, by a judicious selection of specific courses, it is equally possible for a student to come away with a deep and valuable intellectual experience.


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