The recent spotlight on Ball State professor Eric Hedin and his alleged promulgation of religion by including a creationist perspective in a discussion of origins ought to be of concern to all educators, whether liberal or conservative.
Content that deviates from the norm, or which is considered to be “too controversial,” will result in a firestorm of criticism for any teacher who has the temerity to challenge prevailing orthodoxy. The pursuit of truth will be stifled by any group that seeks to assert its perspective without engaging opposing points of view in the arena of honest debate.
Shutting down one’s opponents by clamor, rather than by challenging them in intellectual discourse, is a threat not only to achieving quality education, but also to maintaining a free nation.
One of the chief impediments to critical thinking, identified over a decade ago by the Center for Research on Teaching and Learning at the University of Northern Colorado, was the fact of unwillingness or fear to challenge acceptable “truth,” which, in this case, appears to be non-theistic evolutionary theory.
Regardless of the disposition of Professor Hedin’s situation, there will still be negative fallout in the form of undesirable self-censorship on the part of teachers both at the university level and in K-12 settings.
As a graduate of Ball State University, and as a professor of education at the University of Northern Colorado for almost three decades, I urge the Ball State community to vigorously support professor Hedin. It is time to stop stifling academic inquiry by acquiescing to the cacophonous complaining of special interest groups.
Universities ought to be safe places to explore a variety of perspectives on issues, not merely those which promise not to offend.
Let Professor Hedin’s critics engage in open debate. If they participate in honest discussion of ideas with which they disagree, it’s possible they might even learn something as a part of their university experience.
Dr. Arnold Burron