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Education doesn't directly make people liberal

Updated on March 15, 2015

Do schools directly make people liberal?

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The school environment

One of the great goals of teaching is to make people think. Just like with anything else, the more someone does something the better they get at it. Not only does doing something a lot make someone smarter, but also having structured practice leads to that practice to be more effective.

Schools use, or should use, this very principle by creating an environment where students have to think more critically, deeply, logically, and with evidence in order to have a valid viewpoint. Schools that allow this to happen on a consistent basis and in an intentional way create students that have a higher level thinking skills. And these students hold these skills in higher esteem because of their perceived competence of their thoughts.

If someone thinks they aren't very smart or not a very deep thinker, they are not very likely to hold their own thoughts and opinions in high enough esteem to debate them or to critically evaluate them. Or change them.

The likelihood that a student is going to experience more effective classrooms that get them to think at a high level goes up every year they are in school. So it would only being logical to assume the more schooling that someone has, the better thinking skills they will generally have.

It also is worth noting that students who have the previous cognitive skills to make it to increasingly higher level of education tend to be more intelligent than the general population, so they will have already developed the ability to think well.

Skip to 1:34 to skip the intro

What makes liberal people

The nature of school and the components of them do not make people more liberal, but the development of students' minds do.

The ability to think more logically and with evidence is something that is developed in schools. When this ability is developed, it only makes sense that people would start to be more respecting of different people and more open to liberal ideas when they examine the evidence and use logic to develop their personal positions.

The reason why this type of thing seems to happen at colleges for a lot of people is because that is where a lot of people go to further the development of their minds. And for most people, they are slowing down growth physically by the time they reach college, so they are experience less of the effects of the puberty and start to become more mature.

Maturity in itself doesn't have much of an effect on someone's personal views, but for many people maturity allows them to think with less of an emotional bias. I used to think that gay people kissing and doing whatever was gross. I hadn't formed any sort of an opinion on them getting married or anything, but I thought the whole idea of being gay was weird.

I didn't use logic to form that position, I used my own emotions and sexual preferences to develop that, but once I was able to reject the emotional part and understand where it was coming from, I was able to think about the topic in a more logically and intellectual way.

I was never explicitly taught about gay people or how I should view and treat them, but by the time I was well into high school, I was completely fine with the idea of gay marriage and gay people in general. I was able to understand that my aversion to gay people was much like my aversion to tomatoes. And because something is not my preference, doesn't mean anything.

If I were to talk to a younger version of myself, I like to think that my explanation of my opinions now would convince my younger self, but I have a feeling that at my younger age my opinions and viewpoints would be driven more by my emotion more so than by logic. I think this is because my cognitive ability was not as developed by than and the levels of different hormones in my body make it difficult to use what logical mental ability that I had.

Other factors

But outside of the talk of intelligence, one of the other things that make people people more liberal from school is the experiences they have with different people. A person is much less likely to be against gay marriage or against the whole idea of gay people if they know a gay person or gay people.

It's easy to vilify and hate people that you don't personally know or interact with on a regular basis, but, conversely, much more difficult to do when you know such people.

One of perhaps the greatest benefits of higher education is the interaction with people with different backgrounds of your own. When in college, the likelihood that you meet someone who has a vastly different culture is much more likely, and I think this this type of thing is true for the vast majority of colleges.

Being around these many different types of people helps people to experience people that they may have previous ingrained prejudices against from their own culture. Being around these different kinds of people helps to shed the stereotypes and misconceptions that are often held against different groups of people and allows them to be more accepting of them.

This phenomenon, I think, leads people to be more pro-everyone. And being pro-people is a very liberal thing to be.

One of the many songs and genres the internet helped me find

Old ideas die with new generations

Another phenomenon, is the inherent tendency of new generations of people to reject the ideas of their past and to develop new ones based on their own ideas and news ones they learn about.

This is demonstrated with music. The popular music changes with every generation. New artists, new genres, new everything creates new kinds of fans and new tastes in music. Even "pop" music changes generation to generation. The music that is considered, by many, to be bland and un-unique is much different now than it was even ten years ago. And it will be much different in the next ten year.

But a better example than just simply using "pop" music is to look at the new genre and types of music that are created seemingly all the time. One of the reason for the success of these many new and different types of music is the ability to spread ideas much more easily through the internet. People who share an interest in a kind of music can easily find the artist they are looking for and find other artists that are similar. So new genres that would normally be on the fringe of the music scene can become more popular. One examples of a genre that has flourished because of this kind of things is dubstep.

But what all this shows is that new technology creates the ability for new ideas to be shared and to be approved or disapproved of by a large amount of people. The internet does a great job of spreading ideas and allow people to voice their opinions, whatever they may be. This gives the current young generation and huge advantage over previous ones by giving them the ability to get even more outside their own bubble and to learn about different ideas and people.

College was the main catalyst for this type of thing for past generations, but now people can have the experience from college as well as from the internet. Having both resources, in my opinion, has made people much more knowledgeable and open to people who have ideas that go against what their own culture and upbringing support.

I would be much less knowledgeable about many different issues without the use of the internet.

So back to schools

So for various conservatives to put blame (as if being a liberal is bad) on schools and colleges for brainwashing people is an inaccurate thing to say. I think that is a projection, for many of them, of their own upbringing and for many of them, their own religious upbringing, which does a much better job of brainwashing people than any teacher, school, or college could ever do.

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    • CatherineGiordano profile image

      Catherine Giordano 

      3 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Critical thinking, as you said, leads to liberal views. So if schools teach children how to use evidence and logic to form their views, the side effect is liberalism. Education is important because if someone doesn't know the facts they can't think critically. voted up U I.

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