Thursday, March 17, 2011

Longrider has an excellent post up about the idea that lecturers should be effectively spying on their pupils. I have nothing to add to his common sense dismissal of this atrocious idea other than my own personal take on this.

In the long term, I want to be a university lecturer. In fact, all being well, I should be teaching at a UK university from later this year. And I have to say that the only occasion in which I would even consider highlighting a student's opinions is if they made some sort of direct threat about another person. Y'know, something like "I want to stab XYZ". Otherwise, any opinion - no matter how extreme it might be - would not warrant escalating. See, the whole point of university is to open the minds of students - to challenge them, and to make them think. By all means let students express controversial opinions in essays and tutorials (Lord knows, they express any number of stupid and poorly thought through ones already) and then let's talk about them. Not to pursue a particular agenda, nor to push Western values. But rather to expose those opinions that are, with the best will in the world, illogical, more than a little repugnant and unable to stand up to close scrutiny. And yeah, fundamentalism in all its forms would be one of those opinions.

University should be about challenging and and shaping opinions. It shouldn't be about restricting those opinions, no matter how controversial. And if the teaching staff at universities simply become a further arm of government control and restriction in this country, then I really wonder what the point of them will be.

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