Is Professor Bias a Problem in our Public Colleges and Universities – Yes

Is professor bias a problem is our universities? The answer is a definite yes, but how much that problem affects you depends on your field of study.

Every professor you meet will have some philosophy of life guiding them, some sort of religion, some sort of political persuasion. But will it affect their teaching? Sometimes, the answer is certainly no. Are you a vocal liberal Democrat teaching Calculus? Well… OK, I don’t think you’re going to be able to work Howard Dean into your explanation of integrals. But put that same professor into a political science classroom and we may have a problem.

So let us leave behind fields like math and the hard sciences where bias, while it may exist, is largely irrelevant, and move on to other fields. I have heard or had many professors whose politics or religion influenced their teaching. A good teacher will be receptive to other points of view. A great teacher will make a conscious effort to expose their students to other points of view. (Indeed, one would hope they they are strong enough in their opinion to believe that even the writing of their opponents ultimately helps their cause.) For those teachers who don’t, students should look for it on their own. Often even the textbooks professors assign have more balance than their lectures. And if they don’t, the modern world will give you no problem looking elsewhere.

But let us not think that even though the problems of professor bias can be largely mitigated by the intrepid student, they are unimportant. Firstly, although each student should feel an inherent right to disagree with their professor, it cannot escape their mind when they put pen to paper on their latest essay that that professor will ultimately be responsible for their grade. Will being effectively forced to uphold a position they don’t initially believe eventually change their weary minds? Secondly, a lecture or led-discussion can be a more powerful teaching method than mere reading or self-study. If it wasn’t, why would we attend college? All we would need is a local library. And because a professor has this higher power, he must insure an open and full discussion. This will help to stimulate and open the minds of his students, and may, despite what he thinks, teach them something true, despite his own disbelief.

So let us acknowledge the problem of professor bias in fields where the truth of many matters is not certain. And let us encourage those we can, with the power, to give students the greatest and fullest education they are able.