In Quadrant‘s June edition, Peter Coleman and Keith Windschuttle each lamented the decline of our universities, diminished to propaganda mills and indoctrination factories. More than that, both essays perceived a defilement of the plinth where truth was once revered, a chimera of relativism and fashion now taking in its place.
Don Aitkin, who includes among his other accomplishments a stint as Canberra University’s vice-chancellor and a further turn as vice-president of the Australian Vice-Chancellors Committee, begs gently to differ and has put up a few thoughts at Opinion Online:
I’m not able to say what today’s liberal arts students are taught, or what they’re expected to know, or how much they already know through their schooling, the web and all other forms of communication, and you’d need a comprehensive survey to be sure…
…Looking back, my teachers at the University of New England were humanists rather than religious, left-liberals rather than socialists and, since most of them were returned servicemen, grateful to be alive and at work in a university. I learned about Marx and Engels in Economic History, and when I read English literature of the 19th century I did not learn that the industrial wastelands drawn by Dickens were the product of a capitalist system that would be replaced in time by socialism and then communism. Maybe that is what happens today.