The Truth about Radical Professors

Let’s take a look into the classroom of a Radical Professor. You know, the one who is brainwashing our youth and turning them all into raving extremists. The Professor has about 100 students in class today. Here’s what they’re doing.

While the Professor lectures, ten of the students are texting or looking at Facebook. It’s probably more than that, but I’m giving this class benefit of the doubt.

Six of the students are asleep. They studied too much or partied too hard last night. That’s sixteen students, right off the bat, who are missing the radical message.

Four of the boys in this class are thinking, “Chicks really like radical dudes, man. I bet I could get laid more often if I went radical.”

Four of the girls are thinking, “Radical dudes are hot. They’re so craggy and passionate. Their beards are really cute. I want to date a radical dude.” They’re drawing smiley faces and hearts in their notebooks.

Seventy-three students are madly taking notes, hoping they are catching the main points. They want to pass this class so they can graduate and pay back their student loans. About half of them are wishing they’d done the required reading before this lecture. Arghh! They’ll catch up before next class period, they promise themselves. When the semester is over, they’ll throw away their notes and never think about this class again.

Two students in the Professor’s lecture today are radical. The Professor didn’t make them radical; they were radical when they came in, and they’ll be radical until they die or become rich and then they’ll probably turn conservative—well, fiscally conservative, anyway.

The single remaining student is listening carefully, storing away radical tips to use later for manipulating friends, co-workers, and family members. Maybe this student will grow up to have a great radical idea and stand up for that idea. It will probably be something totally different from what the professor is talking about.

That’s the story of 100 students in the Radical Professor’s classroom. It doesn’t bode too well for the alleged brainwashing of our college students. Hundreds of thousands of students graduate from college every year in the U. S., but we don’t seem to have anywhere near that many youthful radicals running around causing mayhem.

I graduated from The University of Texas at Austin in the late 1970s. Austin had a reputation for alternative thinking, but I can’t recall a single professor I had, whom I would have labeled as radical. Maybe my professors were radical in their private lives, but in the classroom they were teaching about their subjects.

Where would radical professors be, may I ask? In the Chemistry Department? In the Music Department? In Spanish class? Community and Regional Planning? Maybe History or Government professors are more likely to be radical? At any rate, most students take history and government because they are required for graduation. Like the 73 students in our Radical Professor’s class above, they want to pass so they can graduate.

Professors are professors because they love the subject they have chosen to study. They want to pass along that enthusiasm to others. Some of them want students to show their knowledge of a subject by repeating exactly what they are told. Some professors require students to read and think and come to their own conclusions.

Oh, wait. That’s the problem. It seems a number of Americans are afraid that students will read and think and come to their own conclusions. Heavens, they might get some ideas that their parents or church families didn’t put into their heads. But that isn’t being radical, that’s part of developing as a person.

As for me, I want my kids, their friends, and the students in this country to learn all they can. I want them to be smarter than I am. I want them to have better ideas than I do. They’re going to need lots of good ideas to meet the challenges they will face as adults in our country and our world.

Once we overcome our fear of young people who think, let’s give them credit for brains. Our kids are not going to become radicals just because some professor tells them to. Most college students are studying so they can make a good living after they graduate. (And a great many of them really, truly want to make their parents proud.) They are smart enough to know that being a so-called radical (whatever that is) is not likely to pay the bills.

Suzann Thompson normally writes about crafts on this blog, but she felt someone had to speak up about the ridiculous notion of our youth being brainwashed by radical professors. I mean really—who thinks up this stuff?