Thursday, December 04, 2008

Chinese Enjoy More Academic Freedom Under Communist Ruling, Said American Professor Xu

An "American professor (as the author referred to himself in the article)" of communications published on Chinese national media, saying a professor in the US would have been fired if caught discussing politics in classroom. The article was in response to the public outcry in China when a professor was summoned by the police for discussing politics in classroom. The "American Professor" told the Chinese media that there was nothing wrong for students to inform the police of inappropriate political comments made by professors.

The "American Professor" is an assistant professor in the School of Communications and Theater of the Temple University in Philadelphia.

Thank you for the information, Professor Xu. We Chinese learned so much about academic freedom from you!


美国传媒学院华裔教授:学生告教授一点也不荒唐
信源:中国青年报|编辑:2008-12-03| 网址:http://www.popyard.org 抄送朋友|打印保留

【八阕】郑重声明:本则消息未经严格核实,也不代表《八阕》观点。【八阕】一个劳动人民群众喜闻乐见的好地方:http://www.popyard.org
八阕 http://www.popyard.org 学生告教授一点也不荒唐--学术自由不是向学生灌输政治观点

徐开彬(美国费城天普大学传播学院助理教授)/张鸣先生在28日发了篇文章“如今学生告教授反革命太荒唐”。王晓渔先生也曾于27日发了篇“政法大学里的‘ 以言获罪’”。两文的大意是,华东政法大学杨师群老师在讲课时,批评中国文化,而且语涉政治,被他的学生告了。两人据此认为,这些学生忘记了大学的学术自由这回事,告老师,很没有道理,是要让老师以言获罪。

于是我设法找到杨老师的原话:“今天被领导叫去谈话,说有上《古代汉语》课的学生到公安局和市教委告了我。记得在上《古代汉语》课时,我当然会批判一些与课文有关的中国传统文化,在某些传统文化问题上如果与当今有一些关系的话,我也会联系当今和批评政府。下课时有二位女同学找我,愤慨地指责我怎么能批评中国文化!批评政府!甚至眼睛里已经含有泪水。这样热爱中国文化与中国政府的同学,我很敬佩,你们有这样的权利!但为什么我就没有批评中国文化和政府的权利呢?所以我告诉她们:我也有发表自己看法的权利,如果你们不愿意听我的课,以后不要选我的课就是了。不料,她们居然到上面去告我”。由于找不到当事学生,我们且以杨老师的话来分析,看其是否适当。

比较张鸣、王晓渔与杨老师三者的话,我有一点要质疑的。现在 “反革命”罪早已取消,学生咋会告“反革命”罪的呢?所以我对张鸣先生所说的“反革命”罪深表怀疑,是不是拿这个来博取眼球?而且,连杨老师的原话都没有提“反革命罪”,张鸣用这个词只能涉嫌炒作了。果然,我输入该文章标题一搜索,发现了众多转载,还包括一些政府网站。看来张先生把媒体和网民玩转的很好,不愧是政治系的教授。至于王晓渔先生所说的“以言获罪”,我不赞同,如果要让杨老师以言获罪,那就是公安直接来找杨老师,而轮不到杨老师的院系领导同事来和他谈这个问题了,而且还泄漏具体的缘由。可能就是给杨老师提醒一下吧。感觉三位言重了,自己先吓了自己。

笔者想说的是,杨老师绝对有批评中国文化和政府的权力,但是,地方选错了。我们都做过学生。我们都有个共同的经历,就是有些老师讲着讲着就喜欢借题发挥,讲到自己的收入少(现在好多了,这种抱怨少了),这个社会怎么了,这个政府怎么了。不同的老师反复讲,从学期开始到结束,做学生的也听腻了。但学生哪敢去阻止老师们反复发牢骚的呢?要知道,学生付出高昂的学费,是来听专业课的,不是来听牢骚的。如果要听牢骚,该去乡村听农民讲,去建筑工地听农民工讲。如果要去看批政府的文字,在网上可以免费看到,又何必花高昂的学费来听这些呢?

张鸣和王晓渔拿出“学术自由”的招牌去吓唬这两个学生,没有多少道理。学术自由,那是在与专业授课相关的内容上观点自由,或者在发表的学术著作上观点自由,或者在专门的学术研讨会上自由讨论学术,但不是利用课堂去向学生灌输自己的政治观点。即使在美国这样的推崇学术自由的地方,在涉及政治与宗教这两点上,课堂上教授们也小心谨慎。尽管如此,每年都会有学生将一些教授告到法庭去。为什么呢?因为,学生在政治和宗教上有不同的立场,由于教授在课堂上拥有的不对称权力,如果教授们在课堂上大谈自己的政治或宗教观点,就涉嫌利用课堂把自己的政治和宗教观点强加给学生,侵犯了与他们持不同政治或宗教观点学生的学术自由。目前美国有一个由125所主要大学学生组成的“学生学术自由”组织,他们的中心就是倡导“教室免受教授向学生灌输政治偏见”。他们还认为,教授在给成绩时往往会偏向与自己政治观点一致的学生,构成对学术公正的威胁。他们在网上专门列出在教室灌输自己政治与宗教主张的教授名单,有时这些教授和他们的学校都会被学生告上法庭。

就笔者而言,以前在国内大学授课时,也曾象某些老师无所顾虑地谈政治批政府,不顾忌学生的立场与想法,但在美国做了教授(个别读者不要误解为国内那种“正教授”职称,在美国博士毕业在大学任教别人都会说你“做了教授”),知道了这个规矩,就很谨慎,涉及到政治与宗教时,尽可能回避,或采取折中立场,就是怕学生告我。

比方说,我教授一门领导传播学,在美国大选期间,自然要讲到候选人。尽管我是支持奥巴马的,班上大多数学生也是支持奥巴马的,但我就不敢大谈奥巴马好或者麦凯恩、布什政府和共和党不好,因为班上可能还有支持麦凯恩的。如果我那样谈,支持麦凯恩和共和党的学生完全可以告我利用课堂灌输自己的政治观点。国内的这两个学生支持政府和共产党,也是她们的一种政治立场,杨老师在课堂上只顾大谈自己的政治立场,不尊重学生可能有不同的想法,涉嫌利用自己在课堂上不对称的权力灌输自己的立场,是不对的。

所以,“学术自由”和“言论自由”被张鸣和王晓渔两位误解和滥用了。就这两位告杨老师的学生,如果按照美国大学的处理模式,她们向市教委告杨老师利用课堂灌输自己的政治观点是正确的(美国的学生是向法庭告),也可以向教务处投诉老师浪费课堂时间谈论与教学内容无关的。至于杨老师自己所说的公安立案调查一事,我们都不知道这是否属实,不便做出评断。杨老师觉得无辜,但学生们也很无奈。在学生与老师之间,学生总是弱者,杨老师的“如果你们不愿意听我的课,不要选我的课就是了”,亦可以看出杨老师的强势姿态。这哪里是一个有包容心、能容纳自由学术讨论的老师所说出来的话呢?杨老师在课堂上又哪里允许师生双方的言论自由了呢?还是在采取传统的“满堂灌”,把课堂沦为自己的一言堂,否则,反对他的学生在授课中间就早已提出反对意见,而不是要等到课后才去争辩。杨老师的这种话绝对是不适当的,如果发生在美国的高校,马上会被学生举报到学校最高层,甚至可能被学校停课。

学校既然在选课系统列出您的古代汉语,学生来修这门课,就是看在您古代汉语的知识上,而不是指望在课堂上来聆听您的政治立场的。课堂是自由讨论专业知识的场所,而不是老师们发牢骚和发表政治高见的场地(课外,那确实是各自的言论自由)。如果说这些学生对政治感兴趣,她们会注册政治课程而不是古代汉语。这几个学生的心态,可能觉得交了学费是来听专业课的,想不到杨老师浪费了课堂时间大谈不相关的内容,还强行被杨老师灌输与自己不同的政见。由于在课堂上老师有不对称的权威与权力,学生课后找老师,老师态度也不好,所以,只好通过外部途径为自己讨回公道。这件事,如果在学生来和杨老师谈话时,自己能态度谦虚点,比方该说“这只是我的一家之言,不一定正确,欢迎你们批评和讨论”,也不会弄成这样。

最后,杨老师虽然猛批中国的传统文化,其实自身还是摆脱不了这个文化。不然,为什么学生来向教授挑战时,就一下子动怒了,说出“如果你们不愿意听我的课,不要选我的课就是了”呢?这不正是典型的传统文化思维“老师要爱护学生,学生要听从老师”吗?而这两个学生,虽身为中国文化的忠实学生,却也能在课后勇于向老师提出自己不同的见解,说明她们也没有愚昧地照搬传统文化里的“听从老师”之言,不像某些人动不动拿出那种陈词滥调批判她们为“失去独立批判之精神”,恰恰相反,敢于挑战自己的老师,正是具有独立思考的表现。有些批评她们的人,其实也是跟着别人人云亦云来批她们,自己又哪里有什么独立批判之精神呢?


source

2 comments:

Kaibin Xu said...

1. You wrote: "… saying a professor in the US would have been fired if caught discussing politics in classroom"
Comment: What I said is that the professor could invite lawsuits if using his or her disproportionate power in classroom to promote one's political viewpoints and not giving students academic freedom. Academic freedom includes both the faculty’s and the students’. For example, although I supported Obama in the election, I could not advocate it in class because there are republicans among students. If I did that, they and their parents could charge me for using my disproportionate power in classroom to pursue my own political interests.
I never said that a professor might be fired in this situation. I just said the students may well report it to the teaching affairs department of the university and the university may suspend the professor’s class if a professor said to students “if you don’t feel like agreeing with my viewpoints (his political viewpoints), drop the class”. I will discuss this issue in more details.
2. You wrote: “ The article was in response to the public outcry in China when a professor was summoned by the police for discussing politics in classroom.”
Comment: From what the media reported, the fact is that the professor has never been summoned by the police. Those who discussed it with the professor are his colleagues and the dean. I didn’t comment on it in my article.
3. You wrote: “The "American Professor" told the Chinese media that there was nothing wrong for students to inform the police of inappropriate political comments made by professors.”
Comment: What! I NEVER said that!!! I never said “there was nothing wrong for students to inform the police”, and I even wrote “I don’t agree with the students’ ways of dealing with this matter”. What I said is that the students can inform the teaching affairs department of the university about a professor's wasting students’ class time in discussing matters irrelevant to course materials and using a professor's disproportional power in classroom to promote one's own political beliefs and not giving students freedom to express their different opinions. The professor told the students “If you don’t feel like what I said (regarding his political beliefs) in class, then don’t attend my class.” This is unacceptable even in the US. First, It was November and too late for students to drop a class. Second, the class was "Classical Chinese", why students with different political viewpoints cannot take it just because they have different political beliefs with the professor? I support the Democratic Party and Obama, can I overtly advocate it in class? No. If I advocated it and republican students are unhappy with me , can I tell them to drop my class? NO! This is absurd. The professor is near retirement and of course very mature and experienced and should be very thoughtful; the students are freshmen and just began college life, how can you treat students in this way just because they had different viewpoints with you?
These are what I wrote in my original comment. I concluded “I didn’t agree with the students’ ways of dealing with this matter. The professor felt wronged by the students, but the students also felt helpless when having such a professor.”
Through my experience as a teaching assistant and a professor in the US, I was told by professors and supervisors that there are two things a teacher should try to avoid: politics and religion, because there are always students who have different political and religious beliefs and the teacher should not advocate one’s own beliefs. I did learn it from my American professors and supervisors in the US!! Professors have academic freedom, but students also have academic freedom. If you don’t know anything about this topic, you can find online the American students organization “ Students for Academic Freedom”. Also, I copy a part of the Academic Bill of Rights from their website:
This protection includes students. From the first statement on academic freedom, it has been recognized that intellectual independence means the protection of students - as well as faculty - from the imposition of any orthodoxy of a political, religious or ideological nature. The 1915 General Report admonished faculty to avoid "taking unfair advantage of the student's immaturity by indoctrinating him with the teacher's own opinions before the student has had an opportunity fairly to examine other opinions upon the matters in question, and before he has sufficient knowledge and ripeness of judgment to be entitled to form any definitive opinion of his own." In 1967, the AAUP's Joint Statement on Rights and Freedoms of Students reinforced and amplified this injunction by affirming the inseparability of "the freedom to teach and freedom to learn." In the words of the report, "Students should be free to take reasoned exception to the data or views offered in any course of study and to reserve judgment about matters of opinion."
Exposing students to the spectrum of significant scholarly viewpoints on the subjects examined in their courses is a major responsibility of faculty. Faculty will not use their courses for the purpose of political, ideological, religious or anti-religious indoctrination.
First, in this case, the professor did not examine the full spectrum of scholarly viewpoints on the subject, but simply impose his own viewpoints on students. Second, the students are freshmen and they were neither offered an opportunity to examine all the possible viewpoints in class, nor have they sufficient knowledge to form definitive opinion before receiving the professor’s indoctrination. Third, students should have the rights to reserve judgment about matters of opinion, then why the professor said “don’t attend my class” when students expressed disagreement with the professor?” Fourth, “faculty will not use their courses for the purpose of political, ideological, religious or anti-religious indoctrination”, isn’t the professor doing exactly this by imposing his own political viewpoints and dismiss the students’ different ones?
To conclude, both the professor and the students are to blame for the situation because they didn’t handle their conflict well in classroom. This event let us know more about protecting both the faculty’s and students’ academic freedom, and the latter is fairly new to the Chinese. When everybody was criticizing, cursing and threatening the two young college freshmen online, where was the voice of the students? This is the reason I decided to write the article and inform the public about students’ academic freedom because when the Chinese talk about academic freedom it is simply for professors and academic elites. Few know that there is such a notion “students’ academic freedom”; I didn’t either when I was in China. As I said, I don’t agree with students’ reporting to the police on such matters, we don’t know whether the students really reported to the police because it is not confirmed, and till now we have never heard the police interfered in this matter. This is a good thing. As far as I know, professors in China today are having more academic freedom in publications and academic conferences, including criticizing the government. I also published several such pieces in Chinese newspapers.
The message you posted here is not an objective comment on my article. I would understand if you cannot read Chinese or didn’t read my article carefully if you can. Also, before commenting, you should translate my article from Chinese into English (published in China Youth Daily, 12/2/2008, you can find it via their website; this newspaper often publishes articles criticizing the government. I published another piece there on 12/9/2007 criticizing the government failing to offer retirement pension to peasants of 65 and above). Let readers compare my article and your comment. As discussed above, your comment is not based on my article at all.
The following website is a report on this matter from an English media, in which they gave a more objective report of my viewpoints near the end of the article:
http://www.upiasia.com/Society_Culture/2008/12/04/students_snitch_on_chinese_professor/4185/
Also, the American students for academic freedom website:
http://www.studentsforacademicfreedom.org/documents/1925/abor.html
If you have any suggestions or ideas about my comment here, please e-mail me: kaibin.xu@temple.edu
Thanks,
Kaibin Xu

Kaibin Xu said...

I think you should copy and attach my comments to your original post. Otherwise readers can only see your post and the debate is not democratic.
In addition to the content of your post that I have refuted, the title of your post is also misleading and outrageous because I never said it!! Where did you learn such "objective reporting"???