Harvard Orthodoxy Stifles Diversity of Thought
Alan Dershowitz made an unexpected comment on teacher tenure in an interview by Hugh Hewitt (transcript posted by Radioblogger).
Dershowitz discussed the recent resignation of Harvard President Larry Summers after being smeared by the small faction of radical faculty (largely staff of the humanities curriculum). Dershowitz said:
Well, you know, tenure has failed. I can tell you why. There is no less courageous group that I have ever encountered in my life, and I meet people from all circles of life, than tenured professors at major universities. They are among the biggest cowards. They use tenure as a sword, but not as a shield. And they are afraid to speak their minds, even on the Summers thing. So many faculty members who supported Summers were afraid of alienating some people on the hard left, and remained silent. And therefore, we got a very, very skewed public debate about Summers' qualities as a president.
One expects tenure to be the means of teachers to avoid worry of job loss and to focus on better teaching methods and improving the school. Instead, they cower as if they have something to lose. Since job loss is not a consequence, the next incentive for a tenured teacher is community acceptance. This leads to a reduction of ideological diversity and ultimately a loss to the students. Thomas Sowell explains that students pay for this ideological orthodoxy:
Even if every conclusion with which students are indoctrinated were true, unless those students develop their own ability to weigh opposing arguments, these conclusions will become obsolete as new issues arise in the years ahead. These "educated" people will have developed no ability to analyze opposing sides of issues.
Students are getting half an education at inflated prices and learning only how to label, dismiss and demonize ideas that differ from what they have been led to believe. Their "educated" ignorance is a danger to the future of this country.