'Like the characters Winston Smith and Julia in George Orwell's classic anti-totalitarian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, students with non-Left views need to learn to outwardly conform to inwardly remain free." This is how a high school tutor, Mark Lopez, describes the plight of Australian students in his submission to the Senate inquiry into academic freedom, which is due to table its report today.
In 18 years tutoring English and the humanities, Lopez has seen a "subtle, unstated pressure for students to ideologically conform if they want to succeed academically".
He said the "beliefs of the politically correct, which are seen by them as so noble and emancipating, especially when … touted by radical students in the 1960s" have become a "means for compromising the intellectual freedom of the young in the 21st century".
Many academics have derided the Senate inquiry, begun in June by the Victorian Liberal Senator Mitch Fifield, as a "witch-hunt", an exercise in "mud-slinging", the dying throes of the Howard regime and a "McCarthyist" attempt to curtail the freedom of academics. The National Tertiary Education Union was typical in its submission asserting that bias does not exist.
But the submissions - some anonymous - tell a different story and paint a chilling portrait of an often unconscious academic bias in schools and universities, and of students too intimidated to say or write what they think.
Sunday, December 07, 2008
Posted by Peter Risdon at 10:04 pm