by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
F.H. Buckley writes for the Martin Center about the negative impact of college on students’ curiosity.
No one needs curiosity more than the young, but our educational system is doing its best to suppress it. The kids are being bored out of their minds.
Of course, that’s nothing new in our K-12 schools. As older Americans recall the time they spent in classrooms, they’ll also remember how they were bored, and curious about what was happening outside. But then those classes forced us to open our minds to novel subjects, to things we never would have learned but for school, to history, poetry, and the dissection of frogs.
In some of these classes—the best ones—our curiosity would kick in and we’d embark on a lifelong voyage of discovery.
That’s what happened in college too. Most people—me for one—arrived there with only the haziest of ideas of what they wanted to study. That’s why mandatory first-year courses make sense. You might not know that you had an interest in learning chemistry, foreign languages, or philosophy until you’re required to burrow down into those subjects. But once introduced to them, your curiosity and delight in the subject takes over.
That’s much less likely to happen today, as our K-12 schools and colleges are increasingly teaching students to become social justice warriors rather than broadening their intellectual horizons. That’s wrong in itself. A college education isn’t meant to be political indoctrination. “A mind is a terrible thing to waste,” and wasted it is when it’s reduced to brainwashing.
But worse still is what it does to young people at a time when they’re supposed to be exposed to an array of subjects and the new learning that comes with them. The indoctrination—the numerous courses that are about conveying political correctness rather than teaching bodies of knowledge—imposes the opportunity cost of things pushed aside.