Sunday, February 26, 2017

Academic Freedom

I take a very conservative view of Academic Freedom.  By that I mean that as far as free speech for the faculty member in the classroom, the less the better.  This is odd for me because I am libertarian in regard to free speech, but I also know the issues of power in the classroom and that the classroom has one goal, and that is not to allow the professor to spout off and pontificate.

The goal of the classroom is student learning, not indocrination into a faculty member's viewpoints.   There is too much to do in a classroom to spend time on your own tangents. 

Does this mean the faculty member is a blank slate, with not opportunities for self-expression?  Of course not.  We should be and are free to state our opinions, as long as we present them as such.  And we all know faculty who state their opinions as facts and as the sum total of the issue.  Admit it.  Just because you agree with someone's viewpoint doesn't mean it isn't their viewpoint.

Likewise, self-disclosure must be minimal, and that includes the use of foul language.  While some students will think a faculty member who uses profanity is "cool," more or many will think it unwise, intemperate, or unnecessary. And of course, some won't even notice.   Some might, reasonably, find the use of the f word sexist and violating.  

I will probably make some mad with this, but too many college professors treat the classroom as a floorshow about themselves or their ideas rather than engaging the students in real learning, and then we complain when the students don't meet the learning outcomes.

Am I a hypocrite in this regard?  My only violation might be to tell personal stories that have a point in the content, and I imagine some of those stories work and others don't.  It was hard during this last election not to say both candidates were horrendous.  Actually, I probably did.  So,yes, I am human and probably hypocritical, but I don't think academic freedom protects me. 

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