While the debate over free speech and intellectual diversity on campus has been raging for the past few years, its origin remains a mystery to most. Much of the public believes that college students are transformed into mindless zombies — which is accurate — but it is still up for debate whether kids are turned in college or if the underlying problem starts much earlier.
While students in college often become more liberal due to the tutelage of their professors, this vulnerability to liberal brainwashing stems from a lack of basic understanding when it comes to government and politics. Most would agree that college students should have a basic understanding of the U.S. political system by the time they enter college, and many would argue a basic understanding of comparative politics as well. However, students nowadays are taught what to think instead of how to think. Evidence-based conclusions are thrown out the window and facts don’t necessarily matter. What only seems to matter is finding and living “your truth.” If students don’t have a sound understanding, then the chances of them immune to liberalism taught in the college classroom is far less.
Charlie Kirk, the founder of Turning Point USA, penned an essay in 2012 that blamed the growing attacks on free speech and lack of intellectual diversity on one simple thing: high school economics textbooks. In his essay, Kirk wrote: “Our public education system is supposedly one without bias, a place where any student can come and learn without any form of partisanship. Instead, our classrooms are slowly becoming political lecture halls with teachers being pawns to further the doctrine of liberalism and ‘equality.’”
Kirk went on to explain that both teachers and textbooks present vast distortions from fact and reality.
Going to college should be a time where your personal beliefs are challenged and hopefully reinforced with facts, reason, and logic. It should be an open market of ideas narrowed down by evidence-based conclusions. However, students might go through 18 years of life without having their views challenged and by the time they enter college and experience pushback on their ideas, the only way they know to combat these opposing views is to either shout them down or respond to them with violence.
This epidemic can be fixed by two main solutions: better parenting and a better education system.
When parents neglect to teach their kids an openness to plural ideas and the fundamental skills of developing opinions based on fact and reason, children are robbed of cognitive growth. In some cases, parents leave intellectual growth, education, and even the “parenting” up to the school. This lack of parenting is a root cause of why certain students lack the necessary skills needed to be a contributing member of society.
In order to revive a culture of parenting, the value of the nuclear family needs greater societal importance. It is hard to argue against having an active mother and father figure in the household, and even harder to argue against its positive impacts on a child’s growth. In most cases, it's the nuclear family that helps a child succeed if the public school system is failing them.
Similar to failed parenting strategies or a lack thereof, the public school system has failed to foster intellectual diversity. In most cases, instructors teach straight out of a flawed textbook. Failure to introduce students to sources other than a textbook robs students of critical thinking skills. Of course, this is not to say that the teacher is responsible for the curriculum assigned, but the top-down assigned materials are flawed and lacking, which in turn leaves our students lacking as well.
The absence of either or both — solid parenting and a strong educational experience — has lead to the lack of intellectual diversity and growth we see on college campuses today. If either issue could be fixed, then the epidemic that is plaguing college campuses might be cured at the root of the problem.
Mason McKie is currently a senior at Texas State University, studying political science with minors in geography and history.