The Fear of Education

  1. In the article “Willful Ignorance on Campus” by Lee McIntrye, he discusses the uprising issue of offensive speech and if students should be protected from it. A few colleges have had incidents where a person’s right to free speech has been challenged. At Yale University, a student tried to force a professor to apologize for a supposedly offensive e-mail written by his wife. Also, at Williams College a speaker was disinvited to give a speech, even when the name of the speaker series was ironically called ‘Uncomfortable Learning’. McIntrye argues that students on campus have become a form “willful ignorance, which is when we know that there are other ideas out there, but we refuse to consider them” (McIntrye). McIntrye believes that willful ignorance should not be happening for the reason that “certainty is dangerous, especially on a college campus, where ideas are supposed to be questioned” (McIntrye). In other words, McIntrye believes that college is the best atmosphere to have everyone’s ideas challenged. This allows us to listen to other people; we can either agree or disagree with someone, but sharing why we think that way is important to other people and our own development. Do you agree with McIntrye? Is it beneficial for students to be uncomfortable in their learning environment? If students become accustomed to “willful ignorance” in college, will this hinder their ability to solve issues and disputes later in their life? If so, how are we able to help this situation?

 

  1. In the article “A Plague of Hyper Sensitivity” by Todd Gitlin discusses the debate that people want protection or a warning from visual or verbal disturbances. Gitlin ties the idea of uncomfortable learning with the rising numbers of rapes, sexual assaults, and murders and then goes on to say “discomfort is the crucible of learning” (Gitlin). In other words, he says that these brutalities happen in real life, and often times on college campuses. College should be preparing us for the real world, not protecting us from it. Most people can agree that rapes, sexual assaults, murders, etc. are disturbing to hear, but doesn’t that mean we should learn about them so we are more aware and able to protect ourselves better? Later in his article, he discusses that people are becoming more cautious when they speak. “We’d rather say, ‘I’m uncomfortable with what you say’ than ‘I disagree with you’” (Gitlin). People are almost afraid to really share their opinions and ideas. Does being conscious when speaking and debating hinder our learning and understanding? In Fredrik DeBoer’s article, “Watch What You Say”, he discusses that professors especially have become fearful of losing their job as a result of challenging their students and making classes “uncomfortable” for the purpose of learning and discussing. He argues there is a “pervasive culture of fear at Universities” (Deboer). Students are scared of being uncomfortable, disturbed, and challenged; professors have a fear of losing their jobs to students who are fearful. If professors don’t teach uncomfortable issues, will students be deprived? And if professors are too scared to teach certain lessons, will we be accustomed to always having a comfortable mind? Is that a bad thing?

Big Words:

Bipartisan- of, relating to, or involving members of two parties

Silo- isolate (one system, process, department, etc) from others

Fervor- intense and passionate feeling

 

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18 thoughts on “The Fear of Education”

  1. I agree with McIntrye’s point that the best place to challenge ideas is in a college atmosphere. It allows students to reevaluate their actions and decisions, and opens up new conversations that one might not of been open to talking about before. In some situations, I do think it is beneficial for students to be uncomfortable in their learning environment because it may help one to grow and develop as an individual. However, for some students it may not be beneficial because sometimes when one is uncomfortable, he or she will not fully open up and get involved in what is going on. I believe that if students become accustomed to “willful ignorance”, they will have a harder time later in life when issues or problems come up. Dealing with things like that now will help someone grow and mature, helping them know how to handle uncomfortable situations later on in life.

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  2. I believe willful influence is very harmful, especially in college curriculum. This is harmful to not only the students, but the faulty, in that the inability to work alongside their peers will only cause the issues we commonly see in the media. Obviously there is no one way to solve ignorance in individuals, as those who refuse to adjust cannot be forced to do so. In this way, it is important to be uncomfortable in academia in order to push our limits and see beyond them.

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  3. 1. I agree that it is beneficial for students to be uncomfortable sometimes in their learning environment. This will lead to students question their own ideas and forming new opinions on subjects. Being uncomfortable in the classroom will help students learn to deal with uncomfortable life situations. I believe “willful ignorance” will hinder students after they graduate. They wont know how to work with people with different opinions and beliefs.If we push students to address uncomfortable situations in the classroom this will help students to develop skills dealing with these situations after college life.

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  4. I agree with McIntrye’s message that willful ignorance hinders ones ability to learn. College is supposed to get students ready for the real world, how can a college do this without making students uncomfortable. Every person will feel uncomfortable at some point in their life in the real world. They will have their views questioned and have others views thrust upon them whether they like it or not. Students need to learn how to see with different perspectives and how can they do that if they arent challenged and made uncomfortable. We can help this by allowing students to become uncomfortable, it doesnt have to be all the time but being made uncomfortable once in a while can help students progress into the real world.

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  5. 1. I agree with McIntyre, I think it is good for students to be uncomfortable to an extent because that it when real learning takes place. Becoming accustomed to willful ignorance will definitely hinder a person’s ability to engage in meaningful conversations and disputes later in life because they wont be able to analyze and appreciate both or all sides to an argument. I think we can help this situation by encouraging conversations that are considering “hard to talk about” and expose the issues we are all scared of.
    2. Personally I do believe that students are deprived if professors don’t teach uncomfortable issues. It shows the students that those topics aren’t okay to discuss and they will continue to be suppressed. I definitely think this will lead to us having comfortable minds, which in my opinion isn’t a good thing because it will cause others to stop challenging each other and themselves.

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  6. 1. I completely agree with McIntyre, in my opinion it is important to for people to have open minds and views about things. And if people are more willing and open-minded the uncomfortableness will go away. So I think it is important for students to learn about uncomfortable topics. Finally I do think if people keep up “willful ignorance” it will hinder our ability to solve problems or conflicts. In order to fix this I think it starts with kids in shaping their opinions and attitudes toward others and ideas.
    2. I believe students will be deprived if professors don’t teach uncomfortable topics. For example I grew up very sheltered and when I was taught about the crime of the world I was so shocked. I believe that students should learn about current events as well as other subjects. Also if we shelter students, they will be completely unaware of whats going on. Secondly the part of the article that says some teachers are uncomfortable teachers some subjects makes me really unimpressed with teachers. In my opinion if someone really wanted to become a teacher, they should have understood the highs and lows of the job and should be able to explain sensitive or uncomfortable topics to students, no matter who they teach or what its about.

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  7. Willful ignorance is a very dangerous topic that should be fixed. People with an opinion should voice that opinion, then give factual information in response to critics to prove them wrong. It only makes sense to debate with facts not fallacies and questionable beliefs. Science is science and that can not be disputed with. To comment on McIntyre’s example of people denying vaccines because they believe they cause future harm, is just plain ignorant and ridiculous. The science behind proving these people wrong is blatant and proven, therefore the people in denial should be outcasted from expressing that opinion. But there are many instances of people who just don’t speak out against other people. If someone portrays a false argument and there are facts to dispute it, there needs to be a debate or dialogue to prove an opinion wrong. The only way to do that is for people to speak up and become more educated in realizing such a harmful thing in society.

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  8. I certainly agree with the author of the first article. “Willful ignorance” has to end and quickly. There is no society or situation where ignoring any rational viewpoint or opinion is beneficial. People need to stop thinking about their feelings as a fragile flower. Feelings are meant to be offended sometimes, it’s part of life, and I believe college is a great time to develop moral sensibilities, listen, and grow with other students. Blocking out opinions just because they offend you is not a way to grow as a person and a learner. People should be exposing themselves to all types of interesting ideas. If sometimes I don’t like what I hear in the classroom, I know that I can either use that viewpoint as a basis for why I dissent from that opinion and grow intellectually or just shrug it off. I would never protest another person’s right to free speech, which is unequivocally harmful to society. Debates and discussions in a public forum is what college is all about.

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  9. I think willingful ignorance is the perfect title for this article because it is like the elephant in the room everyone knows it is there but no one will address it. Students should be uncomfortable in their learning environments, which is how people adapt and learn. Their views should be challenged in college because it is where people from all over the world come together to study on one campus, there is so many different perspectives and opinions on all topics. I personally have changed my views on serious topics many times throughout my life because I realized I was wrong or changed my beliefs and I think it comes with growth. So if we are always scared to discuss the sensitive issues we can never grow as a population. Talking about difficult topics now, prepares us for situations we will face later in life. Whether it is to vote for Donald Trump or even your stance on terrorism in the Middle East. Without discussing them you would be deprived from other key perspectives, a new way at looking at an issue, or things you never thought of before that could potentially sway or strengthen your own opinion.

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  10. I think there is truth to Deboer’s statements on how professors are scared to teach on something that their students are fearful of. I actually believe we have become too politically correct in our society to the point where we are becoming conformist rather than innovators. Many people find that they cannot have an opinion that goes against the current without it putting themselves at risk. As for the professors I think much is lost when they do not challenge students with something is outside of their norms because one day or another students are going to face something uncomfortable and they will be forced to face it.

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  11. I agree with McIntyre that willful ignorance is a harmful ideology in today’s society. College students need to be open minded and willing to listen to other views, even if they do not agree with them. Getting out of one’s comfort zone and trying new things is an important aspect of the college experience that should not be discouraged. This will hinder one’s ability to solve issues later in life because that person would never be able to cooperate with someone that has a different view. Willful ignorance is not just a problem for college students, but a problem for everyone in society.

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  12. I believe that whenever we, as college students, can be forced outside of our comfort zones that it is an extremely beneficial thing. I agree with what McIntrye when he says that “willful ignorance” is dangerous, because there will always be people out there who have more knowledge than you. If you are arrogant and refuse to be exposed to new ideas, than you’ll never grasp a deeper understanding of world issues and topics. If all college students were willfully ignorant, than there would be no point to college itself. It undermines the entire foundation for why we come to school. We pay the money to educate ourselves because we accept that we still have so much more to learn, and our opinions still have so much molding to undergo. If students continue this path of willful ignorance, it will hinder them later in life because they will have great issues trying to understand other people’s opposing point of views.

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  13. I think that it can be both beneficial and detrimental for students to be uncomfortable in their learning environment. One benefit being that students will be exposed to what happens in the world, instead of the bad things being censored out of the conversation. On the other hand, students will be less likely to share their thoughts and participate in discussions if they are feeling uncomfortable about what they are learning. I believe that being accustomed to willful ignorance will have a negative effect on students’ abilities to solve issues later in life because people will only hear things that support their argument while filtering out the rest of the conversation.

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  14. I agree with McIntyre in the sense that college students should be challenged. I think challenging students helps expand their mind and grow as individuals. But this can also have a negative impact on society in the sense that there will definitely be narrow minded people who are blind to change. Students should never feel uncomfortable in their educational environment but they will not grow if they are not tested by those who believe differently than they do. This is what we need to do in order to maintain a striving society because there obviously needs to be diversity but in order for people to accept everyone and their ideas, they must understand why they think the way they do.

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  15. I would have to agree with McIntyre solely on the fact that college ages are the best times for our ideas to be challenged. This is the age frame where we find ourselves and who we are and how can you possibly accomplish that without testing the ideas and beliefs already implemented in our minds? Students should feel a sense of discomfort in the class room on college campuses so they are pushed to excel. Students all over campuses need to realize that this is how problems that we do not know the solution to get solved; find a release from your comfort zone and run with it.

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  16. I do not agree with the authors statements that its beneficial for students to live in an uncomfortable environment. Students should feel comfortable at school because its supposed to an enjoyable experience not instilled by constant fear. As we mature in society living with the authors description of “willful ignorance” would not be beneficial to solving problems. While we are entitled to our opinions, having an open mind and not driven to one idea is the key to working together and creating the best possible solution.

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  17. Having “a comfortable mind” leads to laziness and inadequacy. If we are not challenged to think differently or use new ways to learn then our thought processes will be entirely one-sided and have zero depth. People are too afraid that their opinion won’t be the popular one but the people who are respected the most, or should be respected the most, are the people who stand by what they believe in until it changes due to a new understanding of the topic. As learners, we should all strive for understanding but not simply understanding one side of the argument but rather as many sides as possible. Once you’ve thought about an issue from every possible angle you can make the decision about which solution makes the most sense to you. There will never be an instance where 100% of people agree but the most important thing is that you create and stick by your own opinions.

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  18. 1. I think it is beneficial for students to be uncomfortable in their learning environments to an extent. No one should feel threatened but feeling uncomfortable is okay because that’s when real learning begins. I do think that if students are “wilfully ignorant” it will hinder their problem solving ability later on so we should try to prevent this by really involving all the students in the education process as much as we can.
    2. I definitely think we should be learning about controversial topics instead of sweeping them under the rug. Talking about them is the only way to get peoples opinions out there and truly learn how people feel about them. If professors are scared to teach these controversial topics I definitely think the students miss out on not only a good learning experience but also on useful thinking strategies for later in life.

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