Friday, April 18, 2003

Today's required reading 

A colloquy from yesterday with Alan Charles Kors and Thor Halvorsson from the FIRE. A couple clips as teasers:
KORS:There is a categorical difference between a professor's introducing what the AAUP terms "extraneous materials" during a class, on the one hand, and, on the other, a professor's speaking on matters of public concern outside of the class. A professor has the right to teach what he or she believes true about the subject matter of a class, granting full rights to students to engage is reasoned and informed dissent and disagreement without penalty. Obviously, however, a professor teaching Latin grammar has no right to subject a captive audience---paying good money to study that subject---to his or her views for or against abortion, the war, or affirmative action. That is a terrible abuse of a classroom, and professors who say that "My teaching is an extension of my politics" should mean, ideally, that they believe critical thought and substantive knowledge to have a certain effect, in general, on society.

HALVORSSON:Critical debate and discussion are essential for the life of the mind in the university. There are passions in our open expressions and what is most important is that it should be left to public opinion, not to law, or in this case, to authority, to determine who is being offensive, or expressing a bigoted point of view. What is undeniable is that college and university campuses don't have enough political debate from genuinely pluralistic perspectives. It is necessary to encourage and welcome all sorts of views and opinions. Debate favors truth. And there is a demonstrable lack on the part of university administrations ... of a nurturing environment.

As always, read the whole thing.