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Samizdata quote of the day

University is not a training centre to teach young people ‘correct’ ideas – that would be an indoctrination camp, not a university. Richardson understands that academics have a duty to challenge conventional wisdom. You might say that academics have a duty to offend, and to make their students intellectually uncomfortable. It’s only through challenging what we believe that ideas change and knowledge progresses.

Dennis Hayes

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12 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Cristina

    “It’s only through challenging what we believe that ideas change […]”

    Why, of course! That is precisely the problem, perfectly understood by the signers of the letter. The vast majority of the university herd is composed of average idiots, not of complete imbeciles.

  • Sidleybird

    “…academics have a duty to challenge conventional wisdom.” Indeed. Just as students have the same duty to challenge their professors. To quote Bronowski, “It’s important that students bring a certain ragamuffin irreverence to their studies. They are not there to worship what is known,but to question it”.

  • “I’ve had many conversations with students who say they don’t feel comfortable because their professor has expressed views against homosexuality. They don’t feel comfortable being in class with someone with those views.” (Louise Richardson, quoted in Dennis Hayes).

    I admire Louise Richardson (vice-chancellor of the University of Oxford) for going on to explain that the students must endure the horrors of free speech, but I take it we can assume the vast majority, if not all, of these academic professors’ classroom-expressed views ‘against’ homosexuality were in fact merely insufficiently flattering of it, and were in reaction to aggressive PC statements from hoping-to-being-offended students. I also take it that many were in fact expressions of support for free speech, deliberately interpreted by the complaining students as ‘homophobic’.

    (I would be glad to think that several Oxford academics were courageously offering philosophic defences of heteronormativity; that would mean some real cognitive diversity was on offer there. But I feel a bit sceptical.)

    Oxford is called “the home of lost causes”. Free speech is a cause we must not lose.

  • Laird

    I agree with Niall. I find it difficult to believe that in this day and age, on any major college campus (ignoring a few outliers such as Hillsdale) you could find any professor who is opposed to homosexuality, let alone having the courage to actually express that view in a classroom. It would be a firing offense.

  • “You might say that academics have a duty to offend”

    They certainly have become quite adept at that, as well as indoctrinating the students to do the same.

  • Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray

    Q. Where is the one place you will never find diversity?
    A. In a University!

  • terence patrick hewett

    A university is neither a Job Centre nor an indoctrination camp; it should be the basis from which our knowledge grows. The primary function of a university is not to educate; ‘educate’ is a weasel word, covering many mortal sins. Universities are there to foster scholarship; to produce high quality academic results and teach to standards which are above those of the rest of the world; and to produce world-beating research. Ideas in research may not always seem relevant but it is from this background that great inventions are born.

    They are there to teach the disciplinary languages so that graduates may join in the debate. Above all, they are there to teach people how to think clearly and rationally. Today, many institutions are engaged in remedial teaching, trying to repair the damage done by a corrupt pre-university system of state schooling. Over the last one hundred years the state has progressively tried and failed to institute an effective system of schooling; the same arguments and questions posed in 1908 are still here unanswered; both by the Fisher Act and by the Education Act 1944.

    What is clear is that schooling at all levels must be removed from the control of political parties and placed in the hands of end users: academics, professional institutions, research institutions, industry, parents, churches and charitable institutions.

    No politicians, no LEA’s, and no educationalists. The agendas of the last three groups have nothing to do with learning and everything to do with self.

  • Paul Marks

    I am sorry – but with the exception of a handful of universities (such as Hillsdale in the United States and Buckingham here) universities are leftist indoctrination centres – very much about teaching the young the “correct” (i.e. Frankfurt School of Marxism) ideas about society.

    Universities may “ought” not to be leftist indoctrination centres – but that is what they are. Which makes, for example, the insistence of so many “conservatives” that more and more young people go to university hard to understand. However, the schools for children give the young a basic brainwashing with Frankfurt School of Marxism ideas (about “Diversity”) and so on – long before they get to university.

    It would be good to be honest and open about all this.

    I suggest that teachers lead the children children in chants of “Death to the West!” at the start of each school day – it would bring it all out-into-the-open.

  • Paul Marks

    “Ah but Paul – when people leave the education system and enter commercial life, they forget this Frankfurt School of Marxism stuff”.

    Actually they do not forget it (although they may not know it is from the Frankfurt School of Marxism) – they carry it into Corporate life. The major companies (for example the internet companies) are dominated by people who are utterly filled with this stuff – and try to censor people who disagree with them.

  • CaptDMO

    “It’s only through challenging what we believe that ideas change and knowledge progresses.”
    Bluto: Seven years of college, down the drain! (Animal House)
    In fairness, the fictitious movie character DID mature into become Senator Blutarski.
    (For my English friends, SEE: “The Ruling Class”-Peter Barnes)

  • Thailover

    “…opposed to homosexuality…”

    What does that even mean?

  • Thailover

    “Universities are there to foster scholarship; to produce high quality academic results and teach to standards which are above those of the rest of the world; and to produce world-beating research.”

    No, universities are there to sell themselves and make money and to teach people marketable skills, like how to enslave and control the unwashed masses…you know, like students.

    You’re referring to some ideal that doesn’t exist.

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