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Academic Dishonesty

by on March 27, 2012

Editor’s Note:  NewHartfordHeldHostage is a contributing author, whose topics may be controversial to some.  The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of NewHartfordBeacon.com

At the beginning of each semester, I tell students that my economic theory course will deal with positive, non-normative economic theory. I also tell them that if they hear me making a normative statement without first saying, “In my opinion,” they are to raise their hands and say, “Professor Williams, we didn’t take this class to be indoctrinated with your personal opinions passed off as economic theory; that’s academic dishonesty.” I also tell them that as soon as they hear me say, “In my opinion,” they can stop taking notes because my opinion is irrelevant to the subject of the class – economic theory.  ~ Walter Williams

My son attends elementary school.  Here are two recent topics that he has studied:

1.       The USDA Food Pyramid/MyPlate is the optimal human diet.

2.       Ethanol is a superior fuel source to gasoline.

Both of these statements are opinions.  There has been exhaustive research done that could lead you to believe that each is utterly incorrect.  Yet, my son has learned that ethanol’s superiority to gas is a universal truth, just like 2+2=4.  You may say that the kids are too young to debate the alternative arguments.  You may be correct.  That is precisely why it is intellectually dishonest to bring up the topic while only presenting one side.  As a parent, I now need to enlighten him to the other sides, all of which are also opinions. 

Professor Williams’ students are graduate students at George Mason University.  Their ability to distinguish between fact and opinion has had over 20 years to develop.  Our elementary school children’s has not.  When the teacher who taught the children that “2+2=4”, or “t-r-u-t-h spells truth”, voices their opinion, and does not offer any alternative views, the students will view that opinion as if it were fact.  Therefore it is the responsibility of our educators, to be very careful of what they teach and how they teach it.

NewHartfordHeldHostage

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One Comment
  1. New Hartford Mom permalink

    I couldn’t agree more. This is Indoctrination. As a parent of two in the New Hartford school system….I find this happening frequently and I do Not approve! I am constantly teaching my children the difference between facts and opinions. Just because it is taught to them in school, it does not make it correct information. And if for example you pick up a Social Studies book you will find many examples of indoctrination and not facts that are taught to our children. Also…during the last election my daughter’s teacher talked about Obama and the election daily. Never any mention of the other candidates though. Indoctrination of our children is becoming common and needs to stop!

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