Wednesday, November 25, 2015

What happens when students and faculty don't face intellectual discomfort? - (The dumbing down of the American mind!)

The promise of a liberal arts education is to provide challenging, unpredictable, and even uncomfortable intellectual and interpersonal encounters in order to produce the capacity for critical thinking, open-mindedness, and critical self-examination in graduates who are less dogmatic and prejudiced than when they arrived; more conscious of and able to transcend their biases and in-group identifications; more capable of dealing with complexity, diversity, and change; better equipped to relate with compassion to people from a diverse spectrum of viewpoints and backgrounds; and more able to accept responsibility for the practical and ethical consequences of their ideas, words, and actions. Rather than being intellectually safe spaces in which all offense is banned, liberal arts colleges could be spaces in which it is safe for students and faculty to contend with, consider, and engage with people and ideas with whom they fundamentally disagree. This is the kind of education that sustains a free and open society and allows us to embrace the full breadth of our human family.
When higher education becomes more intellectually “safe,” the world becomes a more dangerous place.