12 November 2016

Raising a Nation - The Working Class

Charles C. Camosy is an associate professor at Fordham University. He wrote an article at The Washington Post to which I responded with a comment that turned into my own article.

This was Professor Camosy’s headline and lead:

Trump won because college-educated Americans are out of touch

Higher education is isolated, insular and liberal. Average voters aren't.

My comment:

Hello Professor Camosy,

I am an educated U.S citizen and I consider myself in the working class, not an elite with an Us vs. Them stance on everything, including political views. During my undergraduate studies, I recall having to complete some rather diverse courses that clearly were designed to make my educational experience a well-rounded one. I'm not sure how Fordham University designs its programs, so I will just explain my experience and how I've managed to change my point of view on many different topics throughout my life, based on my experiences, and not on any prejudices.

From my undergrad studies, the courses that remained with me throughout the years were those which taught me the different world views of others: American Social Problems, Ethnic Literature, and Western Civilization. These courses taught us how to think about and rationalize other viewpoints which were vastly different from our own.

American Social Problems required the student to argue debate topics which went against their personal beliefs, and their grades depended upon thorough research on the pros or cons of whatever topic they were given in their assignments. We had to debate controversial subjects like affirmative action, welfare, abortion, capital punishment, the legalization of marijuana, and the legalization of prostitution.

It was not difficult to make arguments for abortion one week and then two weeks later argue against capital punishment. In this manner, students were encouraged to research the other side of every issue in order to prepare themselves for rebuttal.  It was not difficult to argue one side while my husband played "devil's advocate" to try and make me falter on my assigned position. In this manner, students were encouraged to argue productively and without feeling like they were being personally attacked. After all, it was the professor who made the assignments.

Ethnic Literature provided many articles and essays written by people of all different cultures, including ethnicity, religion, and sexual orientation. These stories were written by authors who tell of their own culture and from the perspective of one who experiences that culture on a daily basis. Through the lens of others, we as students could experience those same stories as we were encouraged to immerse ourselves in those roles.

I won't go into more, but my point is to share with you why I feel that my educational experience helped me to embrace differences of opinions and to respect those who do not experience the same as what I've had the privilege of learning - back before colleges became havens for sensitive elites. For this reason, when I see college protests such as those happening on campuses throughout our nation, where students are upset because of the outcome of our 2016 presidential election, it leaves me a bit concerned. Has academia been in such a decline that students have not been properly groomed to reason outside the boundaries of its institutions?

I’m not stating these things to be negative. It’s when I see news about students being given therapy dogs because they are so traumatized by this outcome, it does beg the question. Does it not?

Are institutions of higher learning seriously insulating our college students from the real world and are they not preparing them for the larger world view they will need for their future?

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