Adding to the perceived angst regarding the state of education in the Donald Trump era, professors at Miami University recently pondered — worried about — (how) teaching has changed in the year following the 2016 Election Day surprise.
Given the political and cultural myopia of many of the profs’ remarks, it should come as little surprise how Mr. Trump won.
For example, as reported by The Miami Student, Sociology Department chair Stephen Lippman said “I thought, ‘Geez, what does this mean?’ Is the polarization and contentiousness, the anger that seemed to infiltrate the election, is that going to carry over into my class now?”
As if Trump alone was responsible for that?
History Department chair Wietse de Boer noted he “observed his colleagues teaching and speaking with greater caution, not wanting to be accused of politicizing their work.”
“Some faculty may also be watching their words,” he said, “which is an unfortunate outcome of the current situation we find ourselves in.”
Radical political correctness existed long before Trump, prof, and that has been the primary cause for educators (and students) watching their words — as, at last, some on the left are discovering to their dismay.
And then there is Professor Dan Herron:
[…] a professor of business legal studies who is staunchly anti-Trump, [Herron] doesn’t try to hide his bias, though he makes it known to his students that political persuasions will never impact a student’s grade. To him, not discussing politics in the classroom in the age of Trump is a neglect of duty.
“One of the things that really bothers me is when people tell me, ‘You shouldn’t be talking about this in the classroom. You shouldn’t be talking about Trump and politics in the classroom,’” Herron said. “Is that what we would have told teachers in the 1930s in Germany — ‘Don’t talk about Hitler’?
“As academics who believe in a liberal, free environment, we have an obligation to point out when someone is threatening that freedom and open environment, on both the left or the right.”
There it is — the always-inevitable invocation of the Law of Mr. Godwin when it comes to President Trump. How did he win the election, again?
All is not lost at Miami, however. Journalism instructor Fred Reeder said that he “has always vowed to remain politically neutral in the classroom.”
No instructor that you have should be providing his or her opinion and trying to convince you that what he or she believes is correct. It’s not their job. Their job is to present information and to have students think critically about it, not to try to push them to believe what you believe.
What a novel concept. Hire more folks like Reeder, Miami.
IMAGE: Frankie Leon/Flickr