College education should go beyond just teaching students facts, data

Students go to college for a variety of reasons. Many students attend universities to increase their earning potential. Others go to college for personal fulfillment. Some people simply go to college to have fun – or even earn their “Mrs. Degree.” However, Ronald B. Standler, a Massachusetts attorney who specializes in higher education law, believes that the primary purpose of a university education should be to teach students how to think.Unfortunately, many students go to college and do not learn how to think; rather, they learn what to think. Instead of presenting students with all various sides of a topic, many professors propagate their own views among their students.

Some professors do this by simply not mentioning any opposing viewpoints and teaching their opinions as if it were the only way of thinking. They should at least present other beliefs on controversial issues so that students know there are alternatives.

If professors present both sides on an issue, however, many steeply bias their lectures in favor of their personal beliefs. I experienced the epitome of this last semester when a visiting professor lectured on the origins of the world. I knew from the start that this professor held a completely different view than I did, but I decided to listen to what this person had to say; after all, she held a doctorate, and I was just a naive college freshman.

Within the first few minutes, however, this professor had shattered my worldview and ripped my beliefs up one side and down the other. When I questioned her reasoning as to why my view on our world’s origins was wrong and hers was undoubtedly correct, this professor refused to acknowledge that my viewpoint had any credibility whatsoever – despite the scientific evidence I brought up.

I am not the only TCU student who has experienced the problem of being taught what to think rather than how to think and thinks it should change. Margaret Schruba, a freshman nursing major, concurs that professors should not teach their views as absolute truth. Rather, they should present all viewpoints and allow students to make their own decisions about what to believe. Granted, most professors teach with some sort of bias, but they should at least try to minimize it in the classroom.

Claudia Camp, a TCU religion professor, says students need to learn to see things from many other perspectives so that they can critically analyze them.

If professors – people whom students respect and aspire to emulate – teach their personal beliefs as fact and dispel all other methods of reasoning as falsity, students will most likely not question them. Hence, by propagating their personal views, professors are not teaching students how to think nor giving them the analytical skills they need in the “real world.”

Standler says the ability to think critically is a key trait for success. However, if professors tell students what to believe rather than giving them all the information and allowing them to personally examine the evidence, they are not giving students this crucial skill.

Most jobs don’t require individuals to regurgitate memorized information. Instead, they involve analyzing data and examining information to solve problems. Students would be much more successful in the business world if they learned how to think in college rather than just what to think.

If professors realized they undermine students’ critical thinking skills by teaching their personal opinions as fact, perhaps they would change their teaching habits and truly educate students on how to think, hence giving them the abilities they need to succeed after their college educations.

Christina Durano is a freshman broadcast journalism major from Albuquerque, N.M.