Anti-Intellectualism at College Universities

Topics: Higher education, College, Intellectual Pages: 7 (2734 words) Published: March 27, 2011
Anti-Intellectualism at College Universities
Education once existed as something very valuable, and something that only the very wealthy obtained. You were considered lucky to have the opportunity of getting an education, and not many took it for granted. Today, nearly everybody receives an education of some degree, and things have definitely changed. Students simply get educations because they are expected to or are required to. As the years have progressed, less and less students actually enjoy their education. You get labeled by many other students as weird or a freak if you enjoy learning. These kinds of ideas have led to and continue to lead to many problems relating to anti-intellectualism.

Student’s anti-intellectualism has been increasing throughout the years, especially at college universities. This is a major problem because the trend is spreading around that it isn’t cool to put forth an effort or to enjoy your classes. Many college professors are very concerned that every year students have less and less motivation and are just attending college because they want a high paying salary after college. One English professor from the East coast said "most students nowadays are reluctant to learn and to think and resent being awakened from their stupor. I shudder when I consider the future of this country” (Trout). It scares a lot of people that this enormous group of unmotivated students is to someday be in charge of the country. The future of American society is at risk because of anti-intellectual ideas that are passed onto students because of the idea of wanting to be “cool”, students just going to college to make more money later, and university expectations decreasing because money has became the main priority rather than education.

Firstly, the understanding of what an intellectual is has to be clear. According to Richard Hofstadter, who is a very famous American historian, he considers an intellectual someone who lives for ideas instead of someone who lives off of ideas. His input is significant because anti-intellectualism is basically his thing, and he was one of the first Americans to write about it. He goes onto say that two basic traits that intellectuals comprise of are playfulness and piety. By playfulness, he is referring to an individual’s curiosity and what makes their mind active. Piety is similar to an individual’s intensity and how passionate they are about their ideas and beliefs. All intellectuals should demonstrate these two traits according to him. (Hofstadter, 259-60) Using this definition, an anti-intellectual would be someone who isn’t curious or serious, so at colleges that would translate to students being uninterested in their classes/education. One important thing to look at is what education was like in the far past. Education was once valued very highly and you were considered lucky to have the opportunity to get an education. Mainly, only the rich and selected children received it. It meant a good future, and most kids took it very seriously. In the beginning of the 19th century, a primary education was the end of schooling for the greater part of students. Towards the 1830s, there started to become a demand for all children to have an opportunity of having an education. The 1870s marked when the United States had started to create education for the general public (Bradbury, 10). Today, education is more valued as something you have to get and something that the majority of people obtain, at least in the United States. As you can see, the opportunities for education have greatly opened up as time has progressed. This changing trend has caused students to take their educations for granted and develop a hatred towards school work. Overall, this growing trend is causing more and more students to avoid thinking for themselves and furthermore avoid having intellectual ideas because learning isn’t cool.

Moving onto modern times, a survey taken at UCLA showed that a...

Cited: Bradbury, Kelly Susan. The Gump Slumb: Challenging Anti-Intellectualism In The College Composition Classroom. Omaha: Houchen, 2002. Print.
Jacoby, Susan. “The Dumbing Of America; Call Me a Snob, but Really, We 're a Nation of Dunces.” 2008. LexisNexis. Web. 9 Dec. 2009.
Keller, Michael. Reading Popular Culture 2nd Ed. Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company, 2008. Print.
Edmundson, Mark. “On the Uses of a Liberal Education: As Lite entertainment for Bored College Students.” Keller 287-300. Print.
Hofstadter, Richard. “Democracy and Anti-Intellectualism in America.” Keller 257-274. Print.
Olson, Joseph. “The Causes of Anti-Intellectualism.” Professor Olson @ Large. Wordpress. 2009. Web. 4 Dec. 2009.
Trout, Paul. “Student Anti-Intellectualism and the Dumbing Down of the University.” N.p. n.d. Web. 17 Nov. 2009.
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