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Today’s youth can think for themselves


As a history instructor, I am sometimes amazed at my students. The semester ended in May, yet I have had two students ask me questions about my opinions on the events of the last few months. Understand, I am no longer their professor; they received the grade for my class and have moved on. I believe it is a statement of their character to continue to learn and seek advise from their instructors and mentors.

With that heartfelt admiration, I must ask: Are these two students unusual, and, if so, why?

Shouldn’t we, as the adults and mentors, encourage asking questions for clarification and support? The difference between knowledge and experience often comes down to age and living conditions. These students asked me about moments which I, or my predecessors, will teach about in several years hence. How are they supposed to react at this time was the general theme.

Objectivity is the big word in my class. I work hard to try to present both sides of the historical documentation. A good example of this is the American Revolution. My students get the lecture which details the colonists were rebelling against the lawful, British government. I tell them how the colonists felt that their rights were not being protected and took enforcement of those rights into their own hands. I don’t provide who was right in the conflict, but provide the students with the information and allow them to draw their own conclusions as to the correctness of the actions. Then, I insist they find modern examples and see how we compare them to the historical context. Critical thinking is stressed, and I warn them of indoctrination of ideas.

The two students who have contacted me are not the first to ever do so, but the first that have specific questions which do not necessarily agree with the news coverage of events. Both asked me if I supported the removal of public works (statues), and I responded that, if America no longer values what those statues represent, then they should be removed, but the history which made those statues in the first place must be preserved and unchanged. Both students were satisfied with that answer.

I think that sometimes we lament the youth. Every generation has a counter-culture mentality, and we are witnessing an expression of the modern counter-culture now. I stress to my students that a person’s actions often speak louder to their actual intentions than the spoken word. Many of my students analyze, critique and examine world events and draw independent conclusions. They know how to think, they are our future, and I am proud of them.

Well done.

Thomas White | Depauw, Ind.