The Corner

Education

A Recent Grad Looks Back on His Politicized Education

Frank Pray graduated from the University of North Carolina earlier this month and looks back on his sadly politicized education in this essay.

If you’ve heard rumors about college professors who turn their classrooms into soapboxes for their proselytizing — they’re true. At Chapel Hill, Pray had to put up with profs who graded him down because they didn’t like his views and others who couldn’t or wouldn’t give an honest account of any argument against their leftist beliefs.

Especially bad was a course entitled Civil Liberties in the United States, where the professor belittled the idea that there was any threat to religious liberty from Obamacare and said that Justice Scalia was a dimwit for his Second Amendment reasoning in Heller.

“By the end of the semester,” Pray writes, “my fellow conservative students were exhausted. Most of them had simply ceased talking in class. But I — perhaps stubbornly, and certainly ignoring possible grading repercussions — would not let a class go by without expressing alternative views and opinions, many of which the professor disliked.”

That course was frustrating for Pray and his fellow conservatives, but that isn’t the only problem. It also was (or should have been) a disappointment for liberal students who merely had their beliefs reinforced without any of the mental conflict of having to confront intellectual opposition. I suspect that those ideologically driven professors are not at all familiar with the arguments against their leftist notions. No one who had actually read Scalia’s opinion in Heller or any of the voluminous writings in favor of the “Originalist” position that the Second Amendment protects individual citizens against arbitrary laws preventing them from owning firearms could just dismiss that view with just a childish “nitwit” comment.

Pray aptly concludes:

If these trends continue, the ‘penetration of thought, broadmindedness, fineness of analysis, [and] gifts of expression’ identified by Pius XII as the fruits of a college education will be no more. And by preventing our future leaders from learning how to rationally discuss issues and reach mutually agreeable solutions, colleges will have undermined, at least to some degree, our social fabric and our continuing experiment with self-government.

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.