The recent release of the San Diego State College Republicans’ “Teach or Preach” list, and the subsequent media attention given to the aforementioned list, raises several questions.
The Jan. 24 issue of The Daily Aztec attempted to question the validity of the list, but missed an opportunity to make an extremely important point.
Lx Fangonilo, president of SDSU College Republicans, was quoted as saying, “When teachers are preaching political biases in the classroom, we are not getting the education we paid for.” This statement speaks volumes about the “education” the folks who put this list together are expecting.
On the topic of suppression of the liberty of discussion, John Stuart Mill said, “If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.”
The idea is this: When you are a student in a classroom you should absolutely be exposed to a great variety of opinions. Your existing opinions need to be challenged in order for you to reach a truly educated state. Possessing a spirit of open-minded inquiry is the very purpose of pursuing higher education. As your ideas are challenged, they are either strengthened or demolished through the process of exposure to other competing viewpoints. This is why we are here in college, people.
Professors who openly share their experiences and opinions with their students are providing an incomparably valuable service. An expectation that professors will simply and mechanically deliver content and data to their students, without bringing their personal interpretations into play, is a shortsighted and narrow-minded expectation, indeed. Students who would follow this list are ultimately damaging their own academic experience by attempting to limit their exposure to ideas that might contradict their own presuppositions.
The list is a shameful exercise by the College Republicans, and it should be treated with disdain. I encourage you to embrace a plurality of ideas and worldviews while you are here at SDSU. This is the way to maximize your college experience, and, contrary to what Fangonilo may think, the opportunity to clash with ideas that are unfamiliar or disagreeable to you is exactly what we are paying for.
To the architects of this petty and juvenile list, let me be the first to say: Academia may not be the place for you. You know, ‘cause of all the thinking and ideas and stuff. If you would like to receive data without interpretation, try the Internet. It’s not difficult to find people who will mindlessly agree with whatever you believe in online. Have fun developing your mediocrity. Maybe one day you will be able to find a job as a speechwriter for Sarah Palin, or something.
In closing, I would like to address the teachers who were listed. If you were listed as merely a “teacher,” then it may be time to step your game up. Mix things up a little. Let the students know you are an actual human being with opinions and not just a walking collection of rote information.
If, on the other hand, you were listed as a “preacher,” then congratulations on a job well done. Remember, you have a responsibility to continue pushing the student out of their comfort zone. Keep up the good work.