Tag Archives: Academic Indoctrination

Job Market

Anyone who has gone through the relentless misery known as the academic job market knows that one's political affiliations are the farthest thing from one's mind (and the least likely subject of conversation at any of one's many interviews).  One worries rather about the really long CV of one's competitors.  Having gone through that myself, I can say that George Will's whining about ideological imbalance in the humanities is uninformed and silly.  Speaking of a recent and most likely annoying book by Stanley Fish, he suggests that one ought to study the causes and consequences of there being so many lefties in academia.  Laying out his case for affirmative action for conservatives, Will writes: 

Fish does not dispute the fact that large majorities of humanities and social science professors are on the left. But about the causes and consequences of this, he airily says: It is all "too complicated" to tell in his book, other than to say that the G.I. Bill began the inclusion of "hitherto underrepresented and therefore politically active" groups.

Then, promiscuously skewering straw men, he says, "these were not planned events" and universities do not "resolve" to hire liberals and there is no "vast left-wing conspiracy" and inquiring into a job applicant's politics is not "allowed" and "the fact of a predominantly liberal faculty says nothing necessarily about what the faculty teaches." Note Fish's obfuscating "necessarily."

The question is not whether the fact "necessarily" says something about teaching but whether the fact really does have pedagogic consequences. About the proliferation of race and gender courses, programs and even departments, Fish says there are two relevant questions: Are there programs "with those names that are more political than academic?" And do such programs "have to be more political than academic?" He says the answer to the first is yes, to the second, no.

The "consequences," however, of this phenomenon have been studied.  Turns out, say some, students are unlikely to be indoctrinated.  I know I say this a lot, but I'm tired of being called an indoctrinator: I can't even indoctrinate my students to underline or italicize the title of that leftist handbook, The Prolegomena to any Future Metaphysics.  When they get that, perhaps will move on to my views about race and gender.