Do You Want Censorship or Ownership?

 

During an interview with public university faculty, I was asked, “What is your philosophy of education?” I smiled and said, “My philosophy of education is based on one word: Ownership. I have always wanted my students to own their beliefs for themselves.” My colleagues had not heard that response before. For my part, I have taught junior high through PhD courses. I have taught in Christian and public institutions. My answer to “Why I teach” is always the same: own your beliefs.

So it was with sadness that I read Zach Gottlieb’s article in the LA Times titled, “The Teenage Mind is Almost Closed.” Gottlieb calls out “cancel culture” and the lack of free speech in public education. Here is his conclusion.

I see teenagers unintentionally becoming more unforgiving and judgmental rather than open-minded and compassionate. When we can’t or don’t talk freely, we lose the chance to find real common ground, acknowledge complexity or grasp that even our own opinions can be malleable. If we listen only to those who already agree with us, we won’t make wider connections. We won’t grow.

It seems that instead of students getting to own their beliefs, teens are getting owned by someone else’s beliefs. You can read the essay for yourself with a link at the end of this Truth in Two. From the inception of my teaching, I have abided by the example set by the Bereans in Acts 17.11. There it says, “The Bereans were more noble than the Thessalonians because they went back to Scripture to see if what Paul said was so.” One of my many mantras has always been, “Don’t believe anything I tell you. Go search it out for yourself.” When students own their beliefs, they will be more responsible for their beliefs and practice their beliefs better. For Truth in Two, this is Dr. Mark Eckel, personally seeking truth wherever it’s found. [First published at MarkEckel.com]

Listen up. The closing of the teenage mind is almost complete – Los Angeles Times (latimes.com)

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  1. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby
    @FullSizeTabby

    I find odd the use of “unintentionally becoming more unforgiving and judgmental” in the part  quoted from Mr. Gottlieb. It has appeared to me that over the last couple of decades that, far from being unintentional, for many who have social power, and many who have gone into the “education” field, the objective has been to foster unforgiveness and judgmentalism. To enforce on students and younger people before their minds are fully formed the concept that for any issue there is always one right view and only one right view. To insist it is their duty to be unforgiving and judgmental toward anyone with a different view. 

    Today’s culture of unforgiveness and judgmentalism makes any of the caricatures of an “intolerant” Church of the Middle Ages look mild in comparison. 

    • #1
  2. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    Isn’t that ‘unintentionally’ part and parcel of what we mean when we say that education today is actually ‘indoctrination’? 

    • #2
  3. Mark Eckel Coolidge
    Mark Eckel
    @MarkEckel

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    Isn’t that ‘unintentionally’ part and parcel of what we mean when we say that education today is actually ‘indoctrination’?

    @BobThompson your comment hits the mark. And here is where I would lay the responsibility for that word choice at the feet of the school (to your point about “indoctrination”). Students are producing the end result of top-down direction from educational institutions. Thanks for your good word here.

    • #3
  4. Tex929rr Coolidge
    Tex929rr
    @Tex929rr

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    Isn’t that ‘unintentionally’ part and parcel of what we mean when we say that education today is actually ‘indoctrination’?

    Think how bad the education was for the vast majority of people teaching K-12  nowadays.  They can’t pass on what they don’t know.

    • #4
  5. Tex929rr Coolidge
    Tex929rr
    @Tex929rr

    I also can guarantee that the people passing on this sort of unyielding dogma preach about teaching “critical thinking”.

    • #5
  6. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    Tex929rr (View Comment):

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    Isn’t that ‘unintentionally’ part and parcel of what we mean when we say that education today is actually ‘indoctrination’?

    Think how bad the education was for the vast majority of people teaching K-12 nowadays. They can’t pass on what they don’t know.

    And when what you think you know is false, you know nothing.

    This is why the true process of education is self-initiated made easier with a good system.

    • #6
  7. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Tex929rr (View Comment):

    I also can guarantee that the people passing on this sort of unyielding dogma preach about teaching “critical thinking”.

    To teach critical thinking means to teach students to think the teacher’s thoughts. It’s long been that way.  

    • #7
  8. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Tex929rr (View Comment):

    I also can guarantee that the people passing on this sort of unyielding dogma preach about teaching “critical thinking”.

    To teach critical thinking means to teach students to think the teacher’s thoughts. It’s long been that way.

    It’s more about inviting students to think. Specifically, getting them to examine their positions and the validity of their assumptions.

    Engineers do this all the time. The good ones, anyway.

    • #8
  9. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Percival (View Comment):
    Percival @Percival 9 Minutes Ago

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Tex929rr (View Comment):

    I also can guarantee that the people passing on this sort of unyielding dogma preach about teaching “critical thinking”.

    To teach critical thinking means to teach students to think the teacher’s thoughts. It’s long been that way.

    It’s more about inviting students to think. Specifically, getting them to examine their positions and the validity of their assumptions.

    I have long held that the best way to teach critical thinking is to provide students with things to think about.  Teach facts about history, science, government, human behavior, etc. Then they will have things to compare and contrast. I don’t think it is possible to teach critical thinking that is free of content (or which uses only carefully curated content) that does any more than pass along the prejudices of the instructor.

    • #9
  10. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):
    Percival @ Percival 9 Minutes Ago

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Tex929rr (View Comment):

    I also can guarantee that the people passing on this sort of unyielding dogma preach about teaching “critical thinking”.

    To teach critical thinking means to teach students to think the teacher’s thoughts. It’s long been that way.

    It’s more about inviting students to think. Specifically, getting them to examine their positions and the validity of their assumptions.

    I have long held that the best way to teach critical thinking is to provide students with things to think about. Teach facts about history, science, government, human behavior, etc. Then they will have things to compare and contrast. I don’t think it is possible to teach critical thinking that is free of content (or which uses only carefully curated content) that does any more than pass along the prejudices of the instructor.

    Hence the classical Trivium taught “critical thinking”–to use the modern, vapid, watered-down name–by first drilling in facts (grammar) and then training in the use of logic (dialectic/logic) and finally training in the presentation of facts and logic (rhetoric).

    • #10
  11. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):
    Percival @ Percival 9 Minutes Ago

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Tex929rr (View Comment):

    I also can guarantee that the people passing on this sort of unyielding dogma preach about teaching “critical thinking”.

    To teach critical thinking means to teach students to think the teacher’s thoughts. It’s long been that way.

    It’s more about inviting students to think. Specifically, getting them to examine their positions and the validity of their assumptions.

    I have long held that the best way to teach critical thinking is to provide students with things to think about. Teach facts about history, science, government, human behavior, etc. Then they will have things to compare and contrast. I don’t think it is possible to teach critical thinking that is free of content (or which uses only carefully curated content) that does any more than pass along the prejudices of the instructor.

    Hence the classical Trivium taught “critical thinking”–to use the modern, vapid, watered-down name–by first drilling in facts (grammar) and then training in the use of logic (dialectic/logic) and finally training in the presentation of facts and logic (rhetoric).

    I didn’t know that and/or hadn’t thought of it that way.  (I may have been told about it.)  Thanks! 

    • #11
  12. Doug Watt Member
    Doug Watt
    @DougWatt

    Critical thinking skills has been replaced by memorizing platitudes that are taught by their teachers who in turn were taught to memorize platitudes.

    • #12
  13. CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill Coolidge
    CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill
    @CarolJoy

    Percival (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Tex929rr (View Comment):

    I also can guarantee that the people passing on this sort of unyielding dogma preach about teaching “critical thinking”.

    To teach critical thinking means to teach students to think the teacher’s thoughts. It’s long been that way.

    It’s more about inviting students to think. Specifically, getting them to examine their positions and the validity of their assumptions.

    Engineers do this all the time. The good ones, anyway.

    I was hoping someone would put up the fascinating teacher/student interaction regarding whether Rowling is a bigot (or not.) If each school had several such teachers, the world would be a much better place.

    • #13
  14. David Foster Member
    David Foster
    @DavidFoster

    A fair amount of that unforgivingness and judgmentalism is probably driven the individual’s fear that is he *doesn’t* display these attitudes, then he himself will be condemned.

    • #14
  15. Jim Kearney Member
    Jim Kearney
    @JimKearney

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):
    Today’s culture of unforgiveness and judgmentalism makes any of the caricatures of an “intolerant” Church of the Middle Ages look mild in comparison.

    “Don’t believe anything I tell you. Go search it out for yourself” is fine advice.

    The Middle Ages are usually defined as the 5th through 15th centuries.

    Brittanica cites the Spanish Inquisition running from 1478-1834.  So I guess that period of judgmentalism on steroids doesn’t by itself disprove your statement.

    I do think “indoctrination” has been a two-way street in my lifetime. Today, certainly, in the leftward lane. Earlier, across the street in 1950’s in Catholic schools, for sure.

    The latter at least made the trains run on time, if you know what I mean. The former has no such incidental value.

    • #15
  16. Old Bathos Member
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    The silly Davos mantra “You will own nothing and be happy” applies to education.  We don’t want kids to possess skills, to be able to make use of great works in literature or science but instead to rely on whatever distilled notions are spoon fed.  It is less that the curriculum is garbage but that the recipients have no way to know that.

    • #16
  17. Fractad Coolidge
    Fractad
    @TWert

    I love this. I’d like to steal it and use it at my school!

    • #17
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