Expectation vs Reality
“We are meeting on the Indigenous lands of Turtle Island, the ancestral name for what now is called North America…become a part of these lands and territories in Texas.”
This Land Acknowledgement is the very first thing that appeared on the syllabus of the American Literature class I took last semester, and can also be found on UT’s website. It is well-known that UT is a liberal school, but I was still a bit surprised to see that. The statement is factually correct, of course, but what’s the point of putting this quote before everything, other than telling us that we should feel guilty for what ancestral white people did to the Natives? Further, does it imply that we should be taking action to return the lands back to the Natives, even though that is unlikely to happen?
The US, despite its relatively short history is home to many literature gems, including Mark Twain, Steinbeck, Fitzgerald, and Hemingway. I have to say that I am not a bookworm at all, and am not very familiar with the works of those superstars, or with any American literary movements at all. However, there is absolutely no mention of any of those authors throughout the course. Of all the readings my professor assigned, the vast majority were written by either racial minorities, immigrants, women, and people with LGBT+ identities. Interestingly, the thesis question of this class is “what is American, and what is literature”? In my opinion, it would have been better if the class was renamed to “American literature of the underrepresented”— I’d be more than happy to take “American literature” instead.
(I ended up getting a very low grade in that class, but mostly due to my lack of proficient reading skills as a non-native English speaker, but I digress.)
My various experiences of the academic progressive agenda at UT
According to a survey conducted by Niche on our school, 61% of students responded that our school is best described as progressive or liberal, in contrast only 3% answered conservative. This seems about right to me:
I remember when a professor denounced the “deep state” as a conspiracy theory during an otherwise unrelated environmental science class.
I remember when a geology professor claimed that she could not force us to wear a mask in the classroom as this decision by the Texas government is “anti-science”.
I remember a chemistry professor who, during class, lengthily rejoiced over the election of Kamala Harris as the first female vice president in January 2021.
And I remember my music theory professor spending a whole lecture discussing critical race theory and why it is wrong that the conservatives are against it.
Ironically, a professor of a US government class I took was actually very unbiased in terms of talking about politics, he always treated both sides of the spectrum equally.
What an ideal education system should look like
I acknowledge that most of the professors in our school have great expertise in their fields of study. However, their lectures should be impartial regarding politics, and it is obvious that many of them are not doing the job right. Schools are not supposed to teach students to become liberal or conservative; instead, they should teach students the facts and the skills of independent thinking. As a STEM major myself, I see it very absurd when those science professors express political opinions.
Speaking of the literature class, I think that literature should not be solely about political events that happened during this nation’s history, but instead should be taught as a type of art. I absolutely do not see myself exploring art through the political speeches of Ida B Wells, or poems that criticize racism in America. Though I do think that it is important that we read about encroachments on Native lands, slavery, and Jim-Crow, insofar as we read them the other perspective should also be provided so that we can see the full historical context and understand the complexity of those controversies at that time.
The reason why Critical Race Theory is inappropriate in school systems is because it is a “theory,” or an opinion, rather than factual teaching. If we are to allow the teaching of “we conclude that systemic racism is responsible for all the dilemmas minorities are facing”, then we might as well allow classes that preach “why conservatism is good for society” or “why America needs Donald Trump.”
We still have a long way to go to restore objectivity to education, but at least more people are waking up and taking action, and our future generations will be grateful for what we have done.