Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Disturbing Conservative Viewpoints on Education

Interesting how social conservatives in both Canada and the United States are blaming universities for their being "too much edumacation".

On his Facebook profile, former Liberal MP Omar Alghabra, found and posted this letter to the editor on Mississauga.com that highlighted one of Canada's problem to those of the so-called common sense thinking variety - there are too many students studying things that aren't practical. Further, universities should be "elitist" institutions for the few who can afford it.

Now, Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum suggests "the left uses colleges for indoctrination". Also, suggesting, fewer people should go to universities - going even further to suggest that simply attending university is undermining the United States.

The social conservative elite, and Santorum is one, feel that university is an obstruction to their agenda. It's okay for them to attend university so they can preach from on high, but not their flock. That's the only conclusion I can draw.

If I were an intelligent conservative, I'd be appalled by these remarks.

If I were a member of a student partisan conservative association (as I once was), I'd be even more appalled.

5 comments:

Skinny Dipper said...

Dang! I knew that the University of Western Ontario was indoctrinating me with all that neo-conservative crap. I did have a great time taking "social studies" at the student-run "restaurants."

kirbycairo said...

"If I were an intelligent conservative. . . " I suggest that there is no such thing.

Rotterdam said...

When our children entered grade nine, the Principle was blunt with all the parents. University is not for everyone. Be prepared to send your child to college, or trade school. I know too many who went to University, took unpractical courses, either dropped out or graduated with a high debt.
As for the political indoctrination, its best to keep your mouth shut if you are a conservative student. The left will deem you politically incorrect.
You may see this as disturbing, but it is reality.
I thank God for the Principles wise words. My daughter is in university (being careful to keep her views to herself), hoping to become a teacher, while my son is an electrical apprentice.

James Calder said...

Rotterdam,

It's one thing to decide not to go to university because of other opportunities, it's another to propagate the ill-informed myths.

Dennis Buchanan said...

There are certainly problems with the culture of "everyone needs a university degree", but political indoctrination is not one of them. (Simply, there are plenty of essential and lucrative jobs for people without degrees, and not that many for people with BAs.)

There are a variety of political views among university professors, ranging from libertarianism to communism. (I once took an ethics class in which there were intermittently two professors. One was a socially conscious Catholic; the other was a leading libertarian scholar. Two very different perspectives.)

What University helps to teach is critical thinking, seeking to ensure that students do not blindly accept political dogma which gets spewed out in all quarters. That "critical thinking skills" are now seen as politically divisive is quite worrying.

For example: Intuitive opinion-based political thinking makes a strong case for "tough on crime" agendas making communities safer, but the empirical facts don't bear this out, and when you really start to analyze the facts it also becomes clear *why* the initial intuition is wrong.

Thus, the vast majority of academics will oppose legislation like Bill C10, whereas people without a university education will be more likely to support it. The conservative government attributes this divide to a skew in the political beliefs of academics, but this is simply not true. The truth is that academics are, like politicians, rarely agreed on anything, and people who are experts in the field of criminal justice are pretty unanimous that Bill C10 is an ineffective approach because this has already been established through empirical and verifiable evidence, the strength of which they know and those without educations don't.

This is why that famous Isaac Asimov quotation about democracy has been so viral in recent years: The government has been using mass ignorance as a crutch for its agenda, painting experts attempting to educate the public as political opponents with an agenda.

What bothers me most (which is saying a lot) about Harper's war on facts is his response to the proposed coalition in 2008. Reasonable people can absolutely disagree on the merits of an NDP-Liberal coalition, but Harper's campaign to paint the plan as unconstitutional and illegal, arguing that the leader of the party with the plurality of seats is constitutionally entitled to live in 24 Sussex, was complete and absolute fiction, and he knew it. It was a bald-faced lie, intended to deceive the Canadian public about the nature of their own government.

Anyone who actually knows anything about our constitution recognized that, but people with this kind of 'ivory tower' knowledge have no place in government in 21st century Canada, it seems.