Is Education Curbed by Fear and Ignorance?

1.) In his recent article entitled “Willful Ignorance on Campus,” Lee McIntyre stresses the importance of being uncomfortable in a campus classroom to rid our generation of its overpowering “willful ignorance.” By this, he means that students should have their beliefs challenged by the professors and by other students so that they do not leave college believing that the only relevant side to the argument is their own. McIntyre asserts that “An education that shields students from discomfort turns colleges into country clubs that give credentials.” He is stressing the importance of challenging a students’ ideals. If a student does not have any opposition to his or her beliefs, but instead only receives praise or support, he or she will go into the work world and not be able to take into account the feelings and beliefs of other people, making them arrogant and closed-minded. Do you agree with McIntyre that being uncomfortable is a vital part of a college education? Or do you have a different view on things? Why or why not?

2.) Todd Gitlin questions the “hypersensitivity” of our generation in his article “You Are Here to be Disturbed.” He talks about bleaks topics such as rape, depression, and anxiety. Gitlin introduces and opposes the idea of “trigger warnings,” or advisement of upcoming information or visuals that call for the discretion of the viewer. He states that, “The proper way to begin understanding [the world] is to accept the unwritten contract of university education: I am here to be disturbed.” The author believes that things such as “trigger warnings” and censoring hinder the course of learning, as they shield the students from the true colors of the world. What is your stance on “trigger warnings?” Do you think that we should eliminate them in a college setting, to expose students to all of the tragedies of the world? Are there certain situations in which they should be used and others in which they can be omitted?

3.) Author Fredrik deBoer talks about fear as something that suppresses academic freedom in colleges in his article entitled “Watch What You Say.” Being a university employee himself, deBoer is frustrated with the mixed messages being put out by our society for professors and other university works alike. He states, “this advice to carefully watch one’s words comes at precisely the same time that more and more people, both within and outside academe, are calling for more public engagement by professors.” He is discontented because he believes that it is the job of the professor to speak freely, in hopes of teaching students about the real world. He believes that learning has become sheltered because professors are scared to say what they really want to say, but also scared because they feel like they must put in their own input in order to really teach. In this day, do you think that we are encouraging professors to be more public about their opinions or more quiet? Which do you think is better for the college setting?