Friday, November 01, 2002

Question the Questioners

I often see and hear people who talk about questioning authority and thinking for themselves. Usually, I can tell what their goal is; they want people to become more liberal and more anti-establishment, etc, etc. Well, I am in perfect agreement with that, but I think it should be most directed to authority figures that it has become politically correct to praise: teachers.

Why?

Hmm.. good question... well because to many people believe these people blindly, because they have this aura of authority, they are older, they are trained to teach, they might be experts and such and such a field, so why shouldn't we believe what they say? Why should we worry so much about questioning them.

1. They are often talking about things they are not experts in. I.e. a biology teacher talking about economics or the govt, etc. or vice versa.

2. Often their training or authority should not give their opinions any more weight than if anyone else had said the same thing. Just because a biology teacher might find abortion morally abhorant/acceptable doesn't mean that his/her opinion is any more valid than yours. It's folly to change your opinion because someone you respect for other reasons disagrees with you. (If reasoned or even emotional/moral arguments sway you, that is a very valid way of changing of opinion. And if you aren't open to changing your opinions, that is just as bad as being TOO open).

3. They have a direct, vested interest in you thinking a certain way. For example you might be in a civics or government class and the talk about education funding or something like that. It could be subtle, but nevertheless you will often find the teacher steering opinion toward a more generous allocation of funds to schools. Other reasons can be mixed in, but the fact that they directly benefit from higher school spending cannot be removed from their opinions. If you look at teacher's political opinions, in general, especially in our pulic k-12 schools, you will find a much more liberal bent than the rest of Americans of a similar educational background. If you bring down the political debate down to its very essence, it's about the size of government. When you are government employee, it becomes much harder to disagree with calls for a larger government.

All right, you might say, despite how convulted your arguments are, you have a point that teachers shouldn't be followed blindly, but why should they be targeted more than any other authority figure?

Well I have two reasons for that. First of all, they HAVEN'T targeted too much in the first place. Besides works like God and Man at Yale, there hasn't been too attention on this subject. There is this sort of cult of virtue when looking at teachers, look at Boston Public, look at the many aw-shucks newspaper columnists that constantly bring up that Baseball players make millions, while teachers live in the lower rungs of the middle class.
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