Feb. 2, 2007

No Longer Free to Choose

By Michael W. <mailto:[log in to unmask]>  Brandl

The principle of freedom of choice is one of the most critical rights in
American society. The Constitution guarantees us the right to choose our own
religion. Representative democracy provides us the freedom to choose our
elected leaders. In the marketplace we have the freedom to choose from a
variety of goods and services.

Today in academe the core freedom for faculty to choose is under attack. It
has long been argued that faculty members should have the ability to
construct their own courses within a general framework so long as that
course covered certain topics, and was done so with the proper amount of
intellectual rigor. These standards were needed to ensure a certain level of
conformity across sections, but they also allowed instructors to tailor
courses to both their own teaching styles and abilities and the learning
styles and capabilities of their students. When instructors have the freedom
to tailor their courses, students will learn better and retain the material
much longer.

This long tradition of choice is now besieged on campuses across the country
by both "committees" and student activists. "Committees" are mandating the
textbooks, instructional materials and learning aids instructors must use in
their classes. In some cases faculty members are being forced to adopt
older, perhaps even outdated, versions of textbooks in an attempt to "save
students money" by making it possible for students to purchase used
textbooks instead of new editions. Some students are demanding that they,
not the faculty, determine what and how instructional materials will be used
in the classroom. Some professors are taking the risky and misguided step of
aligning with the two.

Upon examination, their argument falls on its face.

To begin with.

Continue at:

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