Teach Children To Think Using Proper Reasoning Not Indoctrination by Robert Socha
I recently received an excellent point of clarity at an event where parents of incoming freshmen and returning upperclassmen students get together to network and discuss how they can get involved. Hillsdale College, where my daughter is an upcoming sophomore, is unique in many aspects, notably in its constant encouragement for parents to be involved in the process. Increasingly draconian measures, partly because of FERPA, partly because of the progressive view expressed here, bind most colleges to exclude the parents from their adult children’s educational activity. Hillsdale, not bound by federal law on this because it does not accept tax dollars, exemplifies honor by allowing and providing the opportunity for parents’ involvement in their son or daughter’s studies. There are myriad ways to accomplish this; one is through these events I described above, affectionately called: Summer Sendoff Parties.
I was invited to one of these parties held last night and asked to participate in the presentation as a parent community member.
I made my introduction and innocently added, “it is nice to be here among so many like-minded people.” But a critical distinction revealed to me is necessary to explain because I believe it essential to apply as we continue to navigate this experiment in republican government.
The distinction was expanded upon by one of the college’s professors whose children are enrolled at the college. He noted that while he understands the sentiment behind the statement of like-mindedness, Hillsdale College does not intend to indoctrinate adult children into one way of thinking but to teach them to think by engaging with the great ideas and arguments of the liberal arts tradition. He expanded on the rigorous argumentation students engage in while inside and outside the classroom, stating that its engagement is exhilarating.
What a remarkable statement! The Left, especially, and some on the Right are so dogmatic in their interpretation of societal duties and reforms that they are immovable in their position and stifle debate. I think it prudent to note I appreciate people who hold steadfast their ideals while encouraging and engaging in debate whether I agree with their position or not. Hillsdale allows that competitive spirit to argue one’s position in the proactive exchange of ideas. This exchange is a noble endeavor no longer encouraged nor tolerated in the public forum should the orator’s position deviate from the “mainstream” ideals, no matter how fantastic, nonsensical, or bizarre.
As I contemplated this professor’s defense of the college’s pursuits, something for which my wife and I chose to move 1,250 miles to participate, I recalled something remarkably prescient. Scripture tells us to train a child in how they should go to help guide them into productive adulthood, not departing from the Truth. Jesus added to that when He declared, “you shall know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free.” One of Hillsdale College’s main tenants is pursuing Truth as they declare with the slogan, “Pursuing Truth, Defending Liberty, since 1844.”
This noble pursuit of the Truth, not subjective truth like the non sequitur, my-truth, will set the student Free to pursue that which is good and virtuous for the remainder of their days. Our children, at least, and our entire civilization, deserve the chance to think out loud, possibly in disagreement with whatever is societally popular and acceptable, while maintaining civil discourse.
O that we would welcome civil, passionate debate again in every forum.
About the Author
Robert Socha, BIO Robert Socha (so-ha), was born in southern California. He served 5 years 3 months active duty in the United States Air Force; honorably. After his service he took an Associate’s Degree in Practical Theology, where, through his studies, developed a deep love of God and Country and sincere appreciation of the value of Liberty. Robert and his beloved wife of 21-plus years are raising 4 beautiful Texan children. They moved to Hillsdale, Michigan, in 2013, to put their children in Hillsdale Academy. Robert is a sales professional. He and his wife consider Michigan a hidden gem, and absolutely love this city and state (current political environment notwithstanding) they’ve adopted.