In my time at Eastern, I have had the privilege of studying under many excellent professors. Most of them are specialized in their respective fields and have a diverse knowledge base from which to teach. And, as I’m sure is true with any school, some do not.
We all have our favorite classes, some required for our majors, some breadth requirements. But we also have those classes where we are counting down the days until finals. Regardless of our feelings towards the subject or the professor, I am sure we are all expecting to gain an understanding of some sort of objective truth in the area we are studying.
The problem here is that when our professors, who are supposed to be experts in their subject, say something, many of us do not take the time to discern the difference between truth and opinion. No student has a perfect worldview, and we should be aware that our professors are human in the same way.
Because of Eastern’s dedication to faith, reason, and justice, in the classroom we discuss a lot of controversial topics regarding race and religion, among other things. On top of this, we claim to approach these subjects from a Christian worldview, and this makes our position all the more critical. We have a heightened responsibility to investigate the origins of the things that we learn regarding controversial issues where it is difficult to determine an unconditional and clear-cut answer.
The problem here is two-sided: On one hand, professors should avoid presenting opinions as fact. But on the other hand, students need to recognize that professors are also flawed, and should therefore avoid following them blindly into what could be a bias or misconception. It is all too common for a student to develop a hero worship of their favorite professors and mindlessly assume that all that they say is absolute truth, even when it is just the professor’s opinion.
We need to open our eyes and our ears to the truth, not blocking out what our professors say, but critically thinking about and researching the facts, as to ensure that we get the whole picture, and not one “expert’s” view on the matter.
College is supposed to be about learning to think. Education is about expanding our minds and liberating ourselves from our stereotypes. In order to do this, we need to be willing to ask questions of ourselves and of our professors, and avoid the temptation to blindly follow those who could unknowingly have limited worldviews or who mistakenly present their opinions as hard facts.