Synchronizing Difference


  • Dennis P. Earle Syracuse University


The rise in admission of students from a wider range of backgrounds dovetails with a decades-long evolution in the dominant ethos operating in the academic realm, whereby the value of a critical perspective is emphasized, divergent views are sought, and a bright light is shined on the ambiguities and contradictions that come with whatever supposed truths we might wish to find in a very complex world. Pluralistic multiculturalism is easily and readily defended, while fields of study from physics to philosophy attest to the reality of complexity and paradox; but nurturing and leveraging difference is more challenging, especially given that many of these diverse students nevertheless expect of us black-and-white, definitive knowledge, in addition to the practically valuable, marketable skills we are duty-bound to impart to them. They know, and we who teach must admit, that we have the responsibility to teach solid truths with all of the conviction of our calling