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Allan Bloom presented his book The Closing of the American Mind, providing his readers with an opportunity to acknowledge changes in higher education. The author states that it does not facilitate democracy as it used to and it is adversely affected by the emergence of relativism. He believes that this issue can be overcome only when developing students as full human beings through diverse curriculum and pedagogical technique.
Bloom notices that students start using a relativistic approach when dealing with cultural and moral concepts. He thinks that following this type of thinking, they become open to bad arguments, which prevents them from studying the natural world. In this way, they abandon the power of rationalism and cannot reach enlightenment through rational reasoning. While Bloom believes all information to be significant, relativistic vision presupposes that the curriculum should include only obviously useful knowledge. Thus, pedagogical techniques carried by relativism make students go with the flow and do not allow them to develop doubts regarding the discussed ideas. If some contradictions occur, learners tend to state that they are too conservative and fail to reflect the current world. For instance, they are indifferent to old literature because they believe it to be irrelevant. However, this approach prevents them from being open to other ideas and closes their minds.
Goal: Full Human Being
In Bloom’s point of view, the issue of relativism can be overcome if higher education focuses on the necessity to develop a full human being. Firstly, Bloom considers that all people are influenced by their environment even if they do not allow themselves to be its product. He claims that students should learn about different cultures and events for them to be able to realize how they affect their lives and shape their identities without generalizing and developing stereotypes. Secondly, this person should be one who questions everything and is willing to know a range of alternative answers to have an opportunity to think about them. This enthusiastic and ambitious person is passionate about learning. Finally, he/she should be open and accept all information one perceives even if he/she does not consider it to be right or significant at the moment.
Means: Diverse Curriculum/Pedagogical Technique
The development of a full human being can be managed with the help of diverse curriculum. Educators can motivate students to learn more by including various topics. Teachers should not provide only one view on history because they believe it to be right. They are to let their students analyze perceived information and make the final decision themselves. Learners should be encouraged to speak their minds, respect others and their ideas.
Thus, Bloom convinces his readers that relativism prevents students from being open to new information. Higher education should focus on the development of a full human being to overcome this issue. Educators should prepare diverse curriculum and use those pedagogical techniques that motivate students to learn more and make their own conclusions.