The Thought Police have made an arrest at Le Moyne College. According to this article, student Scott McConnell, has been expelled from Le Moyne College over an essay he received an A- on. All because he touted a very untrendy view: corporal punishment in schools. Apparently another proponent of c.p. laid hands on Mr. McConnell in the fourth grade leaving a lasting, um, impression.
And then there’s this pathetic wisp of a response from Joseph Shedd [pictured], chair of the teaching and leadership programs in Syracuse University’s School of Education, who said the issues that this case raises are very complicated. (No, actually they aren’t complicated at all.) It is about more than just a student’s right to express their own opinions, he said. “There is no clean dividing line between a person’s opinions and his or her ability to make responsible professional judgments.” That’s a scary sounding quote. We jump from McConnell handing in his ‘Minority Report’ to the idea he may not be able to make responsible professional judgments -all because he wrote a single paper in support of a view dismissed as backwards by his teachers. (Yet held legal in some 23 states).
That quote would be ok if it was being applied to Le Moyne education faculty responsible for the expulsion. (Although I am disinclined to use the term “faculty” given its evocation of the capacities of the human mind. ) “There is no clean dividing line between [their] opinions and [their] ability to make responsible professional judgments.”
The Le Moyne clowns should not confuse their own condition of blurred boundaries between their own opinions and their ability to make professional judgments with an affliction they imagine in their students. The information available to the public so far gives no indication that Mr. McConnell is eager to beat children or that he would disobey the relative law of the state he taught in. To suggest otherwise is surely defamatory.
It especially seems absurd to expel a student for writing an essay in support of a practice which is allowed in 23 states:
Surprised? As for McConnell, had he released his report a little further south of the border, he might’ve found it worth a good $95,000 -the amount paid to consultant and social psychologist Professor Ramesh Deosaran to produce a report on violence in schools, which recommended reinstituting corporal punishment in Trinidad & Tobago.
The action against Mr. McConnell, as astonishing as it sounds, will have repercussions on the intellectual climate of this Jesuit school. Other students will get the message to not write anything their teachers may disagree with. This will create a climate of trepidation which discourages independent and critical thinking and fosters intellectual dishonesty. Regurgitation of professorial views will be what gets rewarded. (That used to be considered the essence of a poor education.) It will promote a servile positioning between student and teacher. Congratulations, Le Moyne, for taking a giant step backwards. (You too can have the Le Moyne experience for only some $20,000/year. If it doesn’t work out, you can always say, “I got ‘LeMoyned!'”)
Sherrie Gossett is Associate Editor of the AIM Report.