Nearly every day we hear news of another argument or “injustice” on college campuses. Amid the safe spaces and snowflakes, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is encouraging students to “embrace the power of silence.”
In other words, she wants students to ‘listen, study, and ponder’ ideas before flying into fits of rage, and screaming at those they do not agree with.
“Sometimes exchange requires raising your voice above the noise,” DeVos said, “but more often, it requires embracing the power of silence.”
She also aded that students have “an inherent responsibility to be considerate and careful in the exchange of ideas.”
That is the whole point of college, right? To not only learn the curriculum but also learn to engage and get along with people you may not necessarily agree with.
The secretary, whose appearance at the school was protested, argued that students and groups on campuses are too often focused more on making noise and creating division than in engaging in serious debate. “On social media and on many college campuses, groups and individuals pit themselves against each other, not to discuss and debate deeply held beliefs or ideas, but to raise decibels, score got’cha points or shout down an opponent’s voice,” she observed.
The solution to this problem, according to DeVos, is more listening.
“The natural instinct is to join in the chorus of conflict, to raise your voice louder, to promote your profile and ostracize others,” the secretary contended, asking students to consider the “paradox of silence.”
“Too many assume that those who are the loudest are leaders and those who stay quiet are followers,” DeVos continued, “But we will not solve the significant and real problems our country faces if we cannot embrace this paradox of silence.”
“We will do well to first listen, study, ponder, then speak to genuinely engage those with whom we disagree,” she added, “Voices that are quiet at first, grow in strength while those who rush to shout are humbled.”
“You are each unique, truly one of a kind,” DeVos concluded her commencement address at the University of Baltimore, “And if that is the case, then we must admit that a one-size-fits-all approach to education, at any stage, will not work.”
So in other words, think before you speak!
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