Thursday, April 23, 2009

Academic Freedom or Temple of Conformity?

DAVID HOROWITZ, the former liberal crusader who became a conservative activist, spoke at Temple last week.

"The courses at Temple are devoted to indoctrinating (its students)," he said, according to the Temple News.

Specifically, he was referring to professors preaching liberal values rather than trying to teach students to think for themselves.

How do you feel about your Temple education? Are you getting a well-rounded education or do you feel like the profs have an agenda?

Please be honest, and write comments using your name. All opinions are welcome as long as you support your arguments.


Anonymous said...

I think that it is difficult for professors to hold back their own views while at the same time encouraging students to voice their opinions. The professors that I have had made it clear when they are expressing their own views and always stick to the material when giving a lecture. I think that it is only natural that people in college will have opposing views and everyone should be allowed to express them in a respectful manner. I think that Horowitz just does not like that people have opinions that differ from his and he should question his own bias.

Anthony Brown

Bobby Geary said...

I enjoyn my education at temple, but I do see a lean towards liberal thought, not necessarily an agenda. It is hard to teach something you are passionate about without putting a little bit of your own ideas in your teachings, even if it is not on purpose. I don't think that this general lean is enough to affect my education or my ability to think for myself. Also, by this time in most peoples lives if you don't have the ability to think for yourself than you are coming along slowly.

Cait Berry said...

When I transferred to TU, I expected a more 'liberal' eduation. Coming from a small Catholic college (I had nuns for professors), I was extremely suprised by TU. It is not some huge liberal institution, pushing certain ideals down the throats of students. Most professors I've encountered encourage students to express all thier opinions and try to strengthen thier beliefs, no matter what they are. I don't think that the teaching staff has come together and set some agenda, but it is known as a diverse and open university, so students should expect a certain lean at least amoung the students on campus.

Anonymous said...

I have to admit that most of my professors here do preach their liberalism quite a bit.

Alex Brown said...

Thus far I have enjoyed my education at Temple. Some things I would never pay attention to or read about I have been exposed to at Temple. If anything most of my professors have pushed for me to find all the facts and expose myself to everything as much as possible. In my classes, most of my professors refrain from expressing their views, if anything they want to hear our views. I do not feel like the professors have an agenda.

Geo said...

Somebody posted something about not wanting to challenge teachers (the comment seems to have been deleted?).

Challenge your profs. Ask questions - in a polite manner. Never blindly accept stuff just because they are perceived as authority figures.

Teachers shouldn't just be giving you information to memorize. They should be giving you the groundwork for you to develop your own beliefs, to develop your own thought process.

Part of that process is participating in your education, not just sitting there on the receiving end.

- George
(the teacher who dares you to ask a question)

alicia said...

I wouldn't really consider my education to be "liberal" in the political sense, but I do think the point of higher education is to shape the way we think about things. My education here has taught me to think of all sides of an issue and question why and how something came to be. I don't think that it's wrong to be taught to take all aspects into consideration.
Sure, my professors have told me/the class their personal views on things, but when they do they explain why they feel that way based on certain facts and how they think about the issue.
I guess that counts as liberal, but I don't feel as though an agenda is being pushed on me.

Andrew Small said...

I think that it's perfectly fine for teachers to have agendas in their education but those agendas should be clear. It's similar to my opinion on objectivity in journalism.

I think if we claim to value freedom of speech, allowing free expression in the classroom for both students and teachers. What does Horowitz expect the school to do? Does he want the school to start blacklisting and firing 'liberal' teachers? Sounds like witch hunt to me.

The race class I'm taking should have agenda. Race classes should be political. Politics is supposed to create social changes, even if we cynically know it usually doesn't. The affect of racism on society ought to be something both teachers and journalism see as a part of their obligation to combat.

Andrew Small said...

I meant to say "journalists."

I've been indoctrinated into just calling it "Journalism" like it's some sort of omnipotent.

Michael Gaudini said...

I'd say my Temple education has been pretty well-rounded thusfar. I mean, most of the classes I have taken have been liberal or conservative to the extent that the students provide, not the professors. My best classes are the ones where my professors provide information and then open the classroom up for discussion. For the most part, the professors I've had have not offered their opinions as facts on the subjects they have taught, if they offer them at all. In one class, my professor refused to offer his opinion though he was asked a bunch of times. Towards the end of the year, when he finally told us what he thought about certain things, I was caught completely off guard by what he said, as I had seen no indication of his opinions at all during the class. If he was trying to indoctrinate me, he was doing a horrible job. I've had similar experiences in other classes I've taken.

I did, however, have a class where I felt the teacher was pushing an agenda on everyone. But the thing about that is, I think that those few professors whose opinions make their way into their own curriculum backfire more than anything else. I was talking with friends about this class they had taken 3 years ago and that I took last year, and their reactions to the professor were the same as mine -- some good points were made, but it was overshadowed by the fact that the prof would push her opinions as truth. True, college is about learning and all of that, but if you go into a class where the professor is saying all these things that you think are off the wall... well, then you're probably going to think that it is just all bs, rather than being blindly indoctrinated. Come on, Horowitz, why don't you give us some credit here? Believe it or not, students are people too -- we can actually think for ourselves.

After I read the article in the Temple News, I asked one of my former professors (he teaches in the Religion and Philosophy Dept.) what he thought about it. He surprised me. In his opinion, the curriculum is structured a bit liberally; told me that he thought the required texts for some courses were more liberal than conservative. I thought that was interesting. Thing is, I've always thought 'conservative' and 'liberal' were catch-all terms that try to simplify a more complex situation. If someone is socially liberal, but economically conservative, what does that make that person? I don't really think anyone is completely 'conservative' or completely 'liberal'.

So, to finish up, I think my education has been pretty well balanced. Are the professors pushing liberal values on us? Well, take that on a person-to-person basis. I'd say 'no', for the most part. Obviously there are some exceptions, because we're dealing with people here. Is the curriculum structured liberally? I have no idea.

Besides, Philly is a "liberal" area (there I am, using that catch-all term), so of course there may be some liberalism in the atmosphere. What's Horowitz going to do next, try to put a limit on how many liberals can live in Philly, and set aside property for conservatives? From what I understand, Horowitz has not sat in at any classes at Temple. I'd respect his opinion a bit more if he actually tried to back it up with some leg work rather than burying his head in syllabi to see what word games he can play. I mean, for this I'm basing my opinions off what I've found via Google and the Temple News. I plan to read his book just because I like giving fair shots. So, we'll see how that goes, I guess.

-Michael Gaudini

Matt Petrillo said...

I had my own opinion about Mr. Horowitz while writing the article and just like teachers must teach impartially, I tried writing it without referencing my own views for him.

the book is online:

The chapter about temple starts around page 176

Jessa Filan said...

I think that Temple of course, is a more liberal college but I have never felt that my teachers were forcing a hidden agenda on me. Although I am only a freshman, I have always felt encouraged to express my own thoughts and beliefs in the classroom.

-- Jessa Filan

Patty Giron said...

My experience on the professors that I have hard so far range from liberal to tight conservatives.. student have to learn to think for themselves anyway even if teachers are preaching to you.. I mean we will always subject to all sorts of opinions but after its all said, all we have are ourselves in the end and what we think should be beneficial to ourselves and hopefully that will benefit society.

Antonio Boone said...

Being a freshman I can't really say that I've had a well rounded Temple education, but for the past two semester I havn't seen any of my professors force their beliefs on any students.
I think Temple actually lives up to it's claim of being the most diverse school in the country. So this early into my collegiate education I do believe I am getting a well rounded education.

Daniela Stetser said...

It is only my first semester at Temple and in my classes I personally have not seem any liberal bias from my professors. All the conversations regardless of topic seem to be open. They provoke conversation within the classromm setting and are interested in student oponion and not on a soapbox.

Lara Taylor said...

While, I think Temple and its teachers may be more left of center, I don't think anyone has ever tried to force those thoughts on me as a student. I've had professors that stated their views, but always welcomed questions and other views too. I don't think there's a huge problem with having a more liberal faculty as long as they are open minded as well.
--lara taylor strayer

Andrea Lorenzo said...

I transferred to Temple from a large community college in New Jersey. If you are going to talk about teachers preaching "liberal" values, then it happened there! In my year here, I feel that the education I've gotten is extremely well-rounded. Most of the professors I've had do not even share their personal opinions with students, and they usually do not seem biased. I think it depends on the class, though. I mean sometimes, when talking about religion or politics, it becomes second nature to anyone to express their own opinions. I do not think, however, that teachers try to sway the opinions of their students in any way. I think that the openness of discussion in the classrooms at Temple is extremely vital to a well-rounded education.

Angelina Thoman said...

Personally, I have experienced bias in the classroom from both the liberal and conservative viewpoints. I would even go as far as to say my more conservative teachers seemed to push an agenda moreso than the more liberal ones, for example, disregarding facts presented by a student as not to appear foolish in attempting to present opinion as fact. In the classes I felt had a more leftist bias, people were greatly encouraged to participate in discussion, and were respected for their beliefs as long as they were intelligable. After all, liberals generally believe in free speech and freedom of expression, and all of those lovely freedoms expressed in the Bill of Rights.

Personally, I don't label myself as either "conservative" or "liberal", as I have serious qualms with both sides of the *acceptable* political spectrum. So, unbiased, I feel the reason someone would accuse professors of preaching liberalism, is because many students who present conservative beliefs don't really know what they are talking about.. I know, that statement seems quite harsh; however, this has been my personal experience. Students attempt to rebutt ideas presented in class, and have no facts to base their opinions on. The role of a teacher is to challenge you, and make you think about not only academics, but yourself. It is a teachers responsiblity to challenge someone's thought process if they have nothing to back it up with, other than "Oh, my mom told me...". Not to say that all students who have conservative beliefs are only reflecting what they have learned in their families, but I find that is a common trend, especially among the younger college population.

Andrea Symonds said...

Since I've been here, my teachers have encouraged me to think for myself and form my own opinion. I'm grateful for that because that is the type of guidance we need to become better people in our society.

Sophia said...

I think that it is perfectly fine for teachers to express their beliefs, whether they are liberal or conservative, as long as they do not force their beliefs onto their students. My experience at Temple has been that many of the professors do have liberal opinions, but I haven't encountered any so far that have tried to indoctrinate their students. Although liberal, many professors are usually open minded about most things. Students should have also known that when they chose this school that it is liberal school in a city, which usually would suggest a liberal environment. Personally, I have found that it is usually the other side that attempts to indoctrinate. I know this opinion is very biased, but I am simply speaking from experience. I went to a Catholic high school filled with conservative teachers that would do things like ask opinion questions on tests and then mark your answer wrong if it didn't agree with their conservative standpoint. This is just my personal opinion, however, and I may be wrong in passing this judgment. I don't think that all conservative educators are out to indoctrinate their students, but I do think that conservatives tend to do this more than liberals.

Brittney Corridean said...

I myself have enjoyed the time I have spent here since I transferred to Temple. Yes, some of my teachers clearly do have a liberal perspective, and it some it's more obvious. However, I've had conservative teachers as well. It's hard to completely conceal your opinion when your teaching and preaching on a daily basis. I can argue that almost all the teachers I have had welcome and encourage us to express our thoughts, opinions and what we believe. I've really yet to have a class where I was opposed to speaking, (well, there was one, but that's another story!) But for the most part, this guy is a noodle, he bends any which way he feels is time adjacent. He just switched from left to right, I don't think he really knows what he is talking about, or maybe only sees one side of Temple- the side he wants to see. He may have some points, but there is always another side.

Anonymous said...

Hoenstly, i feel that most of teachers have been liberally biased. Regardless of whether or not im liberal i think that the teachers should be teaching students to teach for themselves above everything else. students need to make up their minds for themselves it gets annoying and frustrating when a teacher enforcers they're viewpoint on a class. it's not to say i don't enjoy my education or anything like that. But i would appreciate less biased teachers. Teaching someone to above think for themselves is so much more important that getting your biased agenda across to them.


Jessica Lopez said...

Yea...Temple is pretty darn liberal and most of my professors do preach their liberal views and only after saying "though I'm not supposed to say this..." and they always find a way to damn do it. Annoys me. Horowitz can say whatever he believes, because colleges and universities are supposed to be an outlet of intellectual freedom, then again they seem to side with whoever is supporting them through money or whatever outlet seems to give them good light.Would Temple seem so liberal if main campus wasn't located in North Philly? Are they only supporting liberal views and tendencies because of the surrounding political climate and area of the local people? Maybe it gives the university good publicity because who would want a conservative let alone non-partisan university right smack dab in the middle of North Philly? AS far as my own Temple experience I would say some but not all of my professors seem like they have an agenda. My experience has been ok, not great nor bad. I'm an independent and therefore I choose to remain not dedicated to choosing a side, but in this case Horowitz may be right.
-Jessica Lopez

Jessica Lopez said...

...I meant to say some but not all of my professors seem to have an agenda, EXCEPT for you George!

Geo said...

I do have an agenda. I want you all to lead happy, productive lives ... as journalists.

Now, go forth and inform the world.

- George
(the journalist)