Education: Ignorant Inside and Out

  1. In an article of The Chronicle, author Todd Gitlin discusses an idea surrounding colleges in that students attend to learn, and in doing so may be suspect to discomfort. Gitlin explores the sensitive topics that typically surround college curriculum, including sexual assault, racism, and mental health, to name a few. Mental health, in this sense, seems to have risen, which is not only seen in the raise of students visiting college counseling departments, but in the opinions of the students themselves. To provide a possible explanation for these findings, Gitlin quotes clinical psychologist John Ehrenreich saying “that [young people] exhibit ‘greater narcissism, unrealistically high self-appraisal, and an increased focus on immediate gratification and on external goals such as money, image, and status.’” Ehrenreich follows this by explaining that distress is not at the faults of the young people, but that they have been generated this way and are used to being above average as a norm. This idea makes it easy to understand why young adults nowadays have trouble adjusting in uncomfortable situations. With all this in mind, the article concludes that the generation that is notorious for thin skin may have many reasons surrounding it. Does this mean it is an insult for young adults to be uncomfortable with sensitive topics, and if so, why? Is there a line to be drawn at what is considered “uncomfortable” and should exclusion from certain discusses only apply to those who are believed to be victims?
  2. In Lee McIntyre’s article “Willful Ignorance on Campus”, McIntyre introduces some ideas behind the debate of sensitivity on college campuses, exemplifying controversial topics such as global warming and offensive Halloween customs. This article focuses mainly on the idea of denialism, where McIntyre operationally defines willful ignorance as, “when we know that there are other ideas out there, but we refuse to consider them.” McIntyre also discusses the concept that people may become so defensive in their ideas that they almost “demonize” the ideas of others. Regardless of the views of each side, all individuals utilize confirmation bias, in that they will search and believe whatever evidence seems to support their beliefs. How important do you believe these behaviors are when taking in information, both in and outside of school? Have you ever caught yourself engaging in confirmation bias, or other types of ignorance in order to reaffirm your beliefs?
  3. Author Fredrik deBoer’s article “Watch What You Say” looks at sensitivity from a different perspective, one which pertains more to older adults, rather than young, new college students. In this article, deBoer discusses the taboo around voicing opinions on the internet, in a day and age where employers can easily find personal information. This issue is not focused only on students, but on faculty too, as deBoer points out by using the example of a teacher getting fired for posting on twitter before they had even begun the job. deBoer then brings in the more recently common trend of protests in college life, and the role faculty play alongside these students, in that no matter the cause or opinion, “they will ultimately be part of the institution, and serve the needs of the institution, rather than the needs of the students.” Do you believe employers, especially at universities, have right to look up, and ultimately hold against, public information about their employees, regardless to the relevance to the job? Do you believe faculty at the University of Delaware are engaged in the well-beings of their students, or simply do their job as set by the university?


Constitutive: Having the power of constituting, establishing, or giving formal, definite, or organized existence to something; constructive.

Demonized: Made into or represented as a demon; (now) esp. portrayed as wicked and threatening, esp. in an inaccurate or misrepresentative way.

Ephemeral: That is in existence, power, favour, popularity, etc. for a short time only; short-lived; transitory.