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“One-sided” shaping of young minds doesn’t help them


In the wake of Hamas’ attack on Israel, former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy stated the House would be “going after any antisemitism that is happening not just on our college campuses but directly in Congress itself as well.”

In October, the Inquirer reported Vahan Gureghian resigned as a trustee at the University of Pennsylvania, citing the school leadership’s “broken moral compass” in his belief that Penn “embraced” antisemitism by hosting the Palestine Writes Literature Festival. He is quoted as saying, “It is time for universities…to reassess the values they demonstrate to the young minds they are shaping.”

This is dangerous stuff and hooray for Penn standing its ground, responding, “We fiercely support the free exchange of ideas.”

Clearly here for Gureghian and McCarthy the “shaping” of young minds is one-sided, in this case pro-Israel, with no desire or opportunity to hear differing points of view. This flies in the face of the goal of educational institutions to develop critical thinkers, and deprives students of being taught and encouraged to form their own opinions. This push to curtail any exchange of opposing ideas is reminiscent of Florida’s education bill that prohibits making students feel discomfort, guilt or anguish. This kind of one-sided “shaping” is an intellectual straitjacket geared toward preventing any growth in the ability to recognize and understand other perspectives and facts. This “shaping” would leave young people in no shape to discern anything beyond a one-sided perspective, unequipped to develop their own opinions or point of view.

The opportunity for flexibility, tolerance and empathy is lost, and the cementing of uncompromising rigidity of belief is the unfortunate result.

Deborah DiMicco