Discussions concerning academic freedom are not unique to the twentieth century. In recent years, however, they have penetrated hitherto untouched areas of learning with unprecedented boldness and touched off practical repercussions often of devastating significance. The culprit at work may well be the modern misdefinition of freedom, namely, the right to do as one pleases.

In endorsing “The Principles of Academic Freedom and Tenure” the American Association of University Professors underscores the fact that academic freedom properly interpreted demands self-restraint and the observance of certain standards. Here are two pertinent excerpts:

The teacher is entitled to full freedom in research and in the publication of results, subject to the adequate performance of his other duties.… The teacher is entitled to freedom in the classroom in discussing his subject, but he should be careful not to introduce into his teaching controversial matter which has no relation to his subject. (Italics supplied.)

To force subjective opinions upon students unduly, and to inject extraneous, time-consuming controversial matters into the classroom waylays both pursuit of the truth and the primary needs of students. Where such intellectually undisciplined excursions occur, students may as well play tic-tac-toe; their professors have, in effect, given a promissory note and then have forfeited payment on the ruse that freedom exempts them.

Unfortunately the thunder for academic liberty today reverberates in areas where distinctions between right and wrong, between propriety and impropriety have become blurred. It clamors for hearing in discussions of sex morality, where purity is dissolved by promiscuity; of political science, where democratic principles ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.

Tags:
Issue: