Monday, August 30, 2010

The Trouble With Academic Ignorance

I'll keep this short and sweet. Recently, I've had the unfortunate (dis)pleasure of meeting individuals (within an academic setting, no less) who perfectly illustrate the concept of academic ignorance: unwilling to learn, eager to inform you that you are wrong, teaching rather than conversing, indirectly insulting political beliefs through the use of mean jokes and "friendly" mockery.

The academic setting is fueled by politics. It encompasses a number of perspectives, spanning a variety of positions on the political spectrum. Yet while the academic setting can surely be a wonderful, rich setting to learn about the important issues of our time, I've found that certain individuals stick to their own political perspectives with no room for growth or discussion. And while living as a staunch believer of certain issues is admirable, the lack of respect towards dissenting views isn't. Academic ignorance has been demonstrated in the willingness to insult other perspectives on personal grounds and the lack of an open mind when encountering individuals with opposite views.

The academic setting has no room for ignorance or mockery. Ideally, academic forums aim to educate. Ideally, they are formed by individuals who (despite dissenting opinions) are cordial, and respectful towards the political perspectives espoused by their peers. Let this blog (splattered in various shades of pink. I wonder if that makes me a flighty non-academic?) illustrate the aggressive, forceful side of my academic belief system. Perspectives, political or otherwise, should not be attacked using an individual's personal attributes, potential acquisition of material possessions (oh my god, does that make me a greedy capitalist?), hobbies, and religious views.

Friendships and relationships don't flourish on the basis of academic mockery. Nor do they develop by using one's own political perspectives to elevate oneself above his or her peer. Attacking political perspectives on personal grounds is downright rude. Ultimately, exercising the principles of respect towards others' political perspectives is a valuable lesson, whether we're in an academic setting or not.

Respect in an academic setting? This is my hope heading to Queen's this fall. And while my recent experience has jaded me, let's hope Queens proves me wrong.

“Being ignorant is not so much a shame, as being unwilling to learn.”
- Benjamin Franklin

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