Anti-Intellectualism: Did You Catch That?

Matthew Colwell

The switch for critical thought has been turned off. Some days, I’m pretty convinced it may have never been turned on for the majority of students in my classes. If you’re motivated and intelligent, expect to be scorned at for bringing your thinking cap. And outside of class? Please don’t even consider critical thought on any subject matter; the likelihood of someone listening is slim. Instead, focus on your haircut, or how many pushups you can do; and ladies, just worry about which fraternity you’re going to forget you went to and the next pair of shoes you should buy. It’s this very resentment towards actual academia and aim for a “low-bar standard” that drags not only the quality of collegiate life down, but presents America with a seriously understated issue: the rise of anti-intellectualism.

Public ignorance is trendy, and if you try to speak with a fluent tongue, you’ll be placed under “elitist” or “pretentious” with haste. Instead of a continual desire to know more when presented with an unfamiliar idea or word, a wall of defensiveness is put up at the sight of being wrong or uninformed. “Ignorance is bliss” might as well be the slogan for 2010 at this point. From reality television like “The Jersey Shore” to mindless Internet drivel like lolcats being drooled over, it’s no wonder intelligent discourse is to a minimum inside and outside of the classroom.

All of this is fueled by one major point: do not question what you are told. Rationale has been thrown out the window. Multiple times over the past several weeks, I have been told something around “why are you trying to use ‘big words’ and logic to prove your point?” as if, somehow, the use of valid reasoning had become wrong. I was to dictate back a point I was told, and that was it.

This simple regurgitation of fact, sans questioning, easily swings right back into the classroom: standardization. As students, all we are taught is to do well on the tests, get our A’s and call it a day. Once you hit college, you’re worried about getting your degree and looking good on your resume for your first job, so you’re just going to please the teacher to clinch that A for your 4.0. We’ve become so wrapped up in regurgitation that we forget to apply any personal analysis to the situation before we accept it as universal truth.

Next time you are presented with an idea, remember to not just digest what it means for your test in three weeks, but to question its purpose. And when you step outside your classroom, don’t bring yourself down in the way you present yourself because someone thinks you’re being snooty. Behind all hatred is fear, and every intellect is feared by the ignorant.

Matthew Colwell is a junior integrated language arts major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him [email protected].