Thursday, October 15, 2009

Professor Bashing 101

One of the favorite mantras of talk radio is the influence of left wing university professors on the youth of America. Don't believe it. I am in my 40th year of university teaching. What I have found teaching at big public institutions in the south and small liberal colleges in the north is that students are almost always more conservative than the professors. Now I am a laissez-faire free market economist. That means I am a conservative in that the market solutions are in general more optimal than those imposed by the government. I teach this. I live it. I use supply and demand as solutions to most economic and financial problems. You would think that in an environment where most of my colleagues are white and liberal, that a black conservative would find rough sledding. Nothing could be farther from the truth. I cannot point to a single instance in which my race has been an issue at the university. I do not have students complaining that I am somehow a traitor. I do not have students complaining that I am indoctrinating them. Quite the contrary. I have heard from liberal and conservative students that it is refreshing for them to hear the other side - leaving it up to them to decided where the truth lies. In my 40 years, I can only point to a handful of students who say that I changed them from liberal to conservative and I know of no students who have said that some professor converted them from conservative to liberal. Think about it. In a broader sense have those who carp on the liberalness of professors ever stop to wonder why anyone is a conservative at all? The media is liberal. The movies are liberal. Artists are liberal. Musicians are liberal. Teachers are liberal from pre-school to grad school. Virtually every influence in our society is dominated by liberals. Yet we hear that the country is mainly center-right. How could this be? If all of these do not convert us and our kids, then what real influence could professors have on our youth?


Bill Olmsted said...

Nice to have perspective based on experience from someone on the inside.

Anonymous said...

I have a few points to make. It's about a consistent "nudge" toward the liberal side. A professor's influence won't transform students over night, as you said, but what you teach has the potential to influence their train of thought for the rest of their life. It's about growing percentages over time. Not all movies, media, artists, or musicians are liberal, but most are. Most K-12 teachers are liberal but they aren't "supposed" to teach political beliefs either. Your view on your students is influenced by your authority over them. "Most" people won't complain very much to the people in control of their grades/future unless it is concrete and serious enough to take the risk of the possible negative consequences. If you call your prof. a "traitor", that may not be taken well. People are reacting to seeing the influence of liberalism and coming consequences of liberal policies that people haven't stood up against well enough. We are close to or at a tipping point in this nation, so the attention and passion has reached a higher level. It's a matter of degrees and percentages that lead to a transformation before you may realize it, because the quick flips are rare.