Tuesday, May 13, 2003

Teaching adaptability 

Too good to pass up: From OpinionJournal's Best of the Web comes a link to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution editorial by a Morehouse College sophomore.
In an academic world of public and private institutions, liberal arts colleges, coed universities, all-male and all-female colleges, and technical universities, students are presumably being prepared and offered a glimpse into the real world through their school.

For many, this notion of the world is an environment where people of different races interact daily. I was saddened to hear my friend's opinion that students whose campuses are not racially mixed are not exposed to the real world.

I began to share with my friend what diversity means to me: being around people with varying viewpoints and values.

This is prevalent at my school. Even though 97 percent of the student body is African-American, we are a diverse and eclectic group of people who come from different parts of the country and the world. We all hold unique and extraordinary experiences.

...But then I began to understand what preparation for the real world meant: being adaptable, proactive, goal-oriented and professional. All these characteristics are fostered at my school.

Each college or university is a unique microcosm of the world that offers students the opportunity to study in an environment that breeds diversity regardless of age, gender, social status or race.

James Taranto asks whether this would ever be accepted at a school that was 97% white? Probably not, but I think we could all get a useful lesson from this student. The "environment that breeds diversity" he's talking about comes not from the student that attend it, but rather from faculty that encourage "being adaptable, proactive, goal-oriented and professional". I see a good bit of the training of professionals here, and I wouldn't disagree if someone wanted to argue we create goal-oriented students. But the ideology most faculty teach from encourages students to react to what's around them and puts the onus of adaptation on those around them to be more "socially aware" or "working for justice". I hope this student gets the education he thinks he's getting from Morehouse. It would be a damned sight better than what we're cooking.