KTK over at Lean Left has an interesting perspective on the concept of liberal and/or conservative indoctrination at college campuses. I always subscribe to the notion that there is a time for everything…and that time is called college.
When receptive, sponge-like minds are exposed to new ideas, concepts, people, music and drugs they tend to soak up things faster than they can actually process them. Which is why a lot of people are just now coming around to the fact that no matter how much fun it was to go to a Grateful Dead show and collect and trade all the tapes of the shows you couldn’t actually get to, they really never were that great of a band. In fact, the entertainment factor was usually external to the stage or internal to your own brain. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
But at a certain point, it is important to give up the delusions of what you experienced in college and instead use what you “learned” to form your own opinions and establish your own standard of ethics by which you will live. Anyone who is willing to be “indoctrinated” has completely missed the point of higher education whether it be from the right or the left.
I went to a college which is widely considered to be pretty left-wing. The president while I was a student was an cabinet member in the Carter administration. We had our share of Tiananmen Square sympathy sit-ins and anti-apartheid protests during a time when we felt like we were really participating in social change. Hell, the Berlin Wall fell during my senior year and we thought that we had materially contributed to ending the arms race. In truth, we were just around when the deficit spending of the Reagan administration bankrupted the Socialist state through military escalation.
Ironically, the architects of this exact plan were also on my campus at the same time. The Hoover Institution is known as one of the premier conservative think tanks in the world and was filled with Reagan cronies. We used to see George Schultz (not Charlie Brown’s dad) walking out in his bathrobe and slippers to pick up his newspaper every morning. Occasionally he would wave hello at Edward Teller as he was making his morning rounds of campus. “Morning, Ed. Nice H-bomb you invented.”
My point is that in an ideal academic environment, there has to be room to present many paths to history. It is the responsibility of the educators to explain that their opinions are merely paradigms, not necessarily truths. The onus of the educated is to take these lenses and view the world through them, and then to interpret what they see.
I was lucky to take Poli Sci 101 from an avowed Marxist.* He is best known for writing a book which looked at our Founding Fathers as a bunch of landed gentry who created the United States as a mechanism to maintain their “republican (little “r”) aristocracy” under the guise of a pluralistic society.
I’d say he was not normally the guy you would choose to teach your entry-level American Government class. But my university had the guts to send him out there to mold our soft little minds. He didn’t expect us to agree with everything he said. He knew we had already been taught the basics of civics in high school, so rote memorization was unnecessary. But his perspective on how the world worked warped my mind better than any ten minute Jerry Garcia guitar noodling solo.
If you simply regurgitated back what he said onto a blue book, you got a C-. If you actually formulated a thoughtful opinion which took into account that there aren’t necessarily any certainties in liberal (small “l”) ideals, then you actually got a grade based on how well you interpreted what you learned and how well you expressed it.
So I have no fear of indoctrination. I’m afraid of people who allow themselves to be indoctrinated. Grape Flavor-Aid, anyone?
* My favorite story from Prof Manley’s class was when somebody tried to catch him in an inconsistency. At the end of a lecture when he asked for questions, a cocky young fellow stood up and said, “Yeah. I got a question for you. I noticed when I was walking to class that you drove up in a brand new Mercedes, Professor Manley. Now how the hell can you justify that within your Marxist/Socialist paradigm?!”
Manley didn’t miss a beat. “I think everyone should drive a new Mercedes.”