April 6, 2013

Another View: Bowdoin is a place to learn to think, not to be indoctrinated

The college is not dismissive of American culture when it exposes students to the world.

By William Cabana

I find Thomas D. Klingenstein's analysis of the curriculum at Bowdoin College to be puzzling, especially considering that at Bowdoin, I majored in government and legal studies with a focus on American government ("M.D. Harmon: There's more than one kind of diversity – but not at Bowdoin," March 29).

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William Cabana is a resident of Newmarket, N.H.

Perhaps he missed the classes like the ones I took, such as American government, American political development, political behavior (U.S.) or Congress and the policy process (U.S.). While not in the history department, these courses nonetheless satisfy criteria of being focused on the United States.

Of course, it is clear that Klingenstein and Harmon are concerned not about the presence of such courses, but rather the fact that they are filling the minds of college students with ideas that disrespect our country's roots and push a liberal agenda.

Do many of these courses throw a wrench in the traditional narrative of American history? Yes. Does this mean we all walked away with our diplomas denouncing America, vowing to unravel its traditions? Not at all.

Any professor at Bowdoin or a similar institution would be dismayed to find out that what they taught or assigned as reading was taken as gospel. The primary goal of an education at Bowdoin or any other liberal arts school is to be able to think critically about whatever subject one chooses to study.

Rather than trying to subtly take jabs at racially motivated admissions policies or allude to a broad liberal conspiracy, Klingenstein and Harmon should instead focus efforts on encouraging young conservative-minded students to apply to and attend institutions like Bowdoin. This will only serve to enhance conversations in classrooms and the college community, building a more intellectually diverse campus from the ground up. Such an outcome is something that we can all agree is an American ideal.

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