Corrupting Students

Several years ago I had a student who wanted to do an independent study, and knowing he was very interested in political theory, I had him read some Hayek. He wasn’t that impressed.

Today he happened to be in town visiting friends and stopped by my office to talk. Turns out the ideas he read in Hayek had stuck with him and he’s continued reading in that realm and moved from a distinctly liberal to a somewhat libertarian position. As he said, the anarcho-capitalists call him a statist because he still believes in public education.

My experience, both as a student and as a teacher, is that ideas often have a long latency period before they successfully infect the exposed person. It’s always gratifying to see the progress of the disease after thinking the exposure had been unsuccesful.

About J@m3z Aitch

J@m3z Aitch is a two-bit college professor who'd rather be canoeing.
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1 Response to Corrupting Students

  1. Dr X says:

    What a gratifying discovery. And I agree. Relatively instantaneous transformations can occur, but more often change takes longer to occur. I think the latter course of change tends to be more stable over the long term. Instant transformations–the 10-minute religious conversion or political conversion–often strike me as excessive and even brittle.

    I’ve actually tried to contact a couple of teachers who, over the long haul, had an enduring influence on me, well beyond what they might have imagined at the time. Unfortunately, I’ve never been able to track them down. Others know their influence because we had sustained relationships in graduate school and have kept in touch.

    Recently, on a facebook page for my hometown, someone suggested thanking teachers who had influenced us positively. The reaction was overwhelming. So many people recalled teachers who were important to who they became. The interesting part was that the comments were mostly from people who finished high school prior to 1990. I wonder if it actually takes quite a few years to really appreciate the significance of certain people. Or maybe the urge to say something was just a function of middle aged sentimentality for the past. Could be both.

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