Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Disagreements with Professors

My compressed class ended last week, and now I have only two classes until my next compressed starts towards the end of the semester.

I had reservations about writing about this, but I decided that I will. In my last class, I had a disagreement with a very famous professor. I think part of the problem was that I didn't articulate my idea to the best of my ability, but the other part of the problem was that the professor interpreted my comment as disagreeing with a point that was ardently argued in a piece published by said professor. I was yelled at, and I tried to handle the situation reasonably. In fact, I didn't think I was disagreeing with the professor at all -- merely taking the argument a step further and elaborating on the consequences.

However, this really made me wonder where academic freedom is located these days. In law school classrooms across the country, from the moment we set foot on campus, our thoughts are obliterated and torn apart as part of the so-called teaching process. Some professors are better than others -- some are more encouraging, and keep their true beliefs to themselves for the sake of fostering in-class discussion.

Others, however, hold out a signpost with their ideals staunchly asserted, and are quick to go for the jugular when the slightest notion of disagreement presents itself in classroom discussion. I thought the ivory tower was meant to foster exploration of an issue from all sides? Since this professor is so famous, everybody in class pretty much sucks up and articulates exactly what the professor wants to hear.

For the sake of keeping the classroom from being a royal derriere-kissing fest, and for the sake of your fellow students' brains, please assert your own ideas in classes like this. Be respectful, but try to keep academic integrity in tact -- freedom of expression should not be lost in the classroom.

Now, go forth and conquer!

DF

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