Marvin Olasky used to teach at the University of Texas. In a new piece at Intercollegiate Review, he offers some common sense advice to students who seek classroom empowerment.

Ten Ways to Speak Truth to Power

Okay, this fall you’ve filled your schedule with courses like “The Bible as Literature,” “American History Survey,” and “International Poverty Fighting.” Then your professors tell you that Bible stories are fiction, history is a tale of class friction, and what you’ve heard about biblical poverty fighting is a false depiction. How should you respond?

Christian or Orthodox Jewish students with secular liberal professors can readily fall into two errors. One is to begin a course disposed not to learn, even though the professor does have a lot to teach and is probably a decent person (though perhaps with a screw loose). The other is to become a teacher’s pet, kissing up to professorial mocking. If you want to be active but not belligerent in class discussions, this article is for you.

I taught at the University of Texas for twenty–four years and listened to students who had resolved to be neither silent nor obnoxious. None wanted to be an academic suicide bomber stuck with scarlet Fs on a transcript. Some found that classes with progressive professors sharpened their ability to engage others. Here are ten things I learned from them:

1. Be willing to read. Students hoping to be more than stenographers need to read not only books on the syllabus but also ones that offer opposing views. Most students, unwilling to do double the reading, settle for hooking up, dumbing down, and just taking notes.

2. Prepare generally. Four books are crucial aides: C. S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters, Francis Schaeffer’s The God Who Is There, John Piper’s Desiring God, and Timothy Keller’s The Prodigal God. Also learn about the major trends of academic thought within your majors: ISI’s Guides to the Major Disciplines will help you understand challenges in history, English, and other fields.

Read the rest at the link below.