Sitting in one of my classes last month, students were discussing the elections. The classroom quieted down as the professor joined a nearby conversation and singling out one student. The student said she couldn’t vote, because of her religion. Shocked, the professor criticized the student’s statement, attempting to sway her opinion. Remaining quiet, not daring to counter. Needless to say, I was upset so I followed up with the student. She wasn’t upset, she respected the professor’s opinion, yet she remained rock solid in her beliefs.
This chilling effect and silencing of students due to contrasting views in an academic setting occurs all over the world. In recent years, the U.S. has seen the silencing or blatant disregard for unpopular student opinions across social media and mainstream sources.
I cannot stress how important it is that professors do not attempt to indoctrinate rather than teach. To indoctrinate is to teach something, usually an opinion, as the truth and should thus be accepted without further thought.
This is disgusting and horrifying. For one, college students are paying for an education, not to be told by a PhD holder that their entire belief system is trash and that as a student, they should rethink having an opinion.
An academic setting requires open and equal discussion on the subject at hand without any personal bias from the instructor. This allows students to actually discuss their own opinions with their actual classmates. This is an open discussion sans bias input from the professor.
To break it down, the problem lies with the lack of boundaries in the academic setting. As a college student in the 21st century, I am aware that the chilling effect does more harm than good. While some may argue that certain opinions, depending on the region in this nation, are harmful or offensive, a classroom is no place to shutdown any opinions coming from students.
The American Association of University Professors, discusses the idea of a diversified classroom when it comes to viewpoints and a balance when it comes to teaching. The AAUP goes on to mention that critics are against the abusive methods many professors have taken on when it comes to teaching.
Professors and politics just don’t belong in the same category. I don’t want to be sitting in my math class worrying about what my professor thinks of me regarding politics. That shouldn’t be my worry or anyone else’s. The job of a professor is to stimulate the minds of their students and to engage them in the curriculum, not to place their own opinions on irrelevant topics into the lesson plan.
That’s not to say that professors as individuals cannot have their own opinions. But when a professor’s opinion deliberately attacks a student’s belief system or their own opinions, it’s just bad.