Critical Thinking is in Danger

In August of this year, I stepped foot in my first in-person college class since 2020. I was so excited to finally have the chance to really dive into my learning again. I felt as though I had some of my educational experience taken away due to the less than ideal COVID procedures. The thought of being back in a physical classroom was such a refreshing thought. However, this feeling of excitement quickly turned into dismay as I listened to my professors push their liberal ideology in nearly all of my classes. As a conservative student, I left the first day of class feeling disheartened and defeated.

The environment at my school and in higher education more broadly has steadily morphed into a place where opposition is condemned and groupthink is embraced. My teachers signal their approval when everyone has the same opinion. This is a frightening reality for my generation and the quality of education we are receiving. How are we supposed to think for ourselves and develop informed opinions if we are constantly being pushed by this one-sided narrative?

Ironically, one of the classes I had chosen to take was centered around critical thinking skills, particularly within the political realm. The more I learned about the importance of thinking critically and always asking questions, the more worried I became for my generation and our ability to think for ourselves. When professors and universities push single-sided (often liberal) ideologies, it actively erodes students’ drive to stand up for their opinions and engage in discourse. More dangerously, students are being conditioned to think there is only one right stance and that everything else is not only wrong, but evil.

The “evil” connotation that conservatism has on campus is incredibly detrimental to not only the educational experience, but the social experience as well. Students engage in vicious behavior with one another because of the divisive culture universities have fostered. College is already an unfamiliar and isolating experience for many, regardless of political views. This

being said, you can imagine the heavy burden that conservative students carry due to the constant fear of being socially alienated and publicly criticized because of their political affiliation. Overall, this trend is causing suffering that extends far beyond the classroom.

This is a pressing, real-world issue. If students aren’t taught to think critically inside the classroom, then how are they expected to utilize this skill outside the classroom? How will this affect elections, even democracy as a whole? If groupthink wins, it will hurt us in more ways than one. It will lead to more violence, deplatforming, and public shaming due to the fact that we are slowly becoming more and more sensitized to viewpoint diversity. Eventually, we will become so intolerant that anything that challenges the norm will be suppressed, causing millions to be silenced. The worst part is that many think the silencing of conservatives means justice. How can the censorship of fellow Americans mean justice in any way, shape, or form, regardless of whether you agree with them or not? A nation that has no difference of opinion is not a free nation. This undermines everything that America stands for, and it needs to be addressed.

Overall, incoming freshmen need to remember that this is more than just bullying and criticism. When struggling to stand up for their views, conservatives need to remember that this is an issue much bigger than ourselves; the core values of our nation are on the line. The threat to free speech is a threat to one of the most fundamental ideas that America was founded upon. Sometimes, the thought of standing up for the integrity of our country can be more motivating than just standing up for ourselves.

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