ERIC Number: EJ711660
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2005
Carnes, Mark C.
Change, v37 n2 p6 Mar-Apr 2005
This article recounts a real-life conversation relating to beliefs, opinions, and attitudes. It asserts the country's democracy needs intellectual debate, but increasingly lacks the inclination and skills to have it. Like students within their homogeneous peer groups, American citizens increasingly inhabit intellectually gated communities. Untested and unchallenged, ideas devolve into opinion; "political discourse" becomes a contradiction in terms. Pundits worried that the last presidential campaign revealed a great divide in the American electorate. The election functioned not as referendum on ideas but as marketing opportunities for attack ads and sound bites. What mattered were consumer "issues" of style, personality, and appearance. What this national moment showed, mostly, was that the country lacks the capacity and courage to espouse clear ideas and engage in meaningful debate. It concludes colleges and universities function, in part, to sustain the democracy. The silence of our students endangers their intellectual health. But it also imperils our nation. "Reacting to the Past" teaches reasoning and speaking skills. More important, it pushes students into distant worlds. There, free from the constraints of their own sense of self, they find it easier both to explore new and challenging ideas and to talk about them.
Descriptors: Higher Education, Educational Change, Student Attitudes, Thinking Skills, Critical Thinking, Political Attitudes, Democracy, Intellectual Development
Heldref Publications, Helen Dwight Reid Educational Foundation, 1319 Eighteenth Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036-1802. Web site: http://www.heldref.org.
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Greece (Athens); Poland