Let’s Make This Interesting
Does anyone remember a movie called “Accepted?” It came out in 2006 and was instantly deemed a classic (just kidding, Rotten Tomatoes gives it a 36%). So while the film critics might not have loved Accepted, it somehow made its way into my mind as i was reading some of the blogs and thinking about the Mill readings.
In Mill’s “On Liberty”, he talks extensively about thought and discussion, and how we as society should treat those differing opinions that exist throughout the world. Mill’s approach was very forward thinking, and he encouraged open acceptance and discussion of alternate viewpoints as a way of enhancing intellect. He even went so far as to say that silencing unique or different viewpoints robs “the human race, posterity as well as the existing generation.”
So, after reading Mill’s opinion on liberty of expression my immediate thought was “how does this relate to me?” Well, i’m a student at a university, and a large chunk of my time is spent listening to other people tell me what they think about certain issues. In addition, most schools pride themselves on having diverse course options as well as a diverse group of professers, so that students may be exposed to and challeged by new ways of thinking.
Ok, lets bring it back to the movie. For those who didn’t see it, basically the movie is about a kid who doesn’t get in to any of the colleges he applied to and decides to go ahead and start his own school (the South Harmon Institute of Technology.) One of the more central characters in this movie is the actor Lewis Black. His role is that of the crazy professor that they hire to run the school. The crazy professor is disillusioned with the current methods of teaching, and decides to teach by giving kids his crazy viewpoint on whatever they want to learn about. In the end the college review board decides to let the school continue to operate because this unconventional method seems to be working.
Here’s where i try to bring this full circle. First day of lecture: Professor Laveque-Manty tells us there will be no exams, which makes us feel pretty good. Why no exams? Because he feels that the standard educational requirement of examinations is not worthwhile. Now lets start thinking about our professors. As i said before, the university prides itself on having a school full of diverse people, opinions, and thoughts. I would say that the university thinks it is doing a pretty good job of hiring professors who will uphold the Millsian ideal of encouraging discussion and examination of issues. However, i think the school has a very vanilla set of professors by Mill’s standards. There are not many classes that i walk out of saying, “man, what that professor said was totally wrong but i’m glad he reminded me of why i think what i think.” No, we get the right professors with the “right” ways of thinking who say the right things. Mills really made me question our education system and whether or not its time to spice things up a little bit. Its an interesting thought, and although it might not make much practical sense, our education and the diversity of thoughts we are exposed to is something both Mill and i value very much.