Francis Canavan, S. J.
In a real sense, I am professionally committed to indoctrination. Yet I do not personally regard indoctrination in the classroom as a practical problem, because I am so convinced that the effort to indoctrinate is largely futile.
I can perhaps explain why I so regard it by quoting a line I read in a book review years ago — so many years ago that I have forgotten in what journal I read it and what book was under review. But the line that stuck in my memory was this: "You can persuade a class of sophomores that Ernest Hemingway is the greatest writer who ever lived; but the sophomores will grow up, and they will despise you." Of course one can play upon the immaturity and insecurity of students, but only at the risk that they will eventually grow up and see through what has been done to them. Any teacher worth his salt, however convinced he may be of the truth of his own views, must want results more lasting than that.
To the extent, then, that he aims at assent at all, a good teacher must aim at reasoned assent. That is, he must strive, at most, for agreement based on a genuine understanding of the fundamental questions involved in the subject under study, of the possible answers to those questions, and of the reasons for what he thinks are the right answers. Then he must leave the matter up to the judgment of the students. And he will do this, not primarily out of respect for the students' rights, but out of recognition of the nature of their minds.