I am a nutrition student at University and I find most of my profs are preaching the classic SAD diet, which is to be expected...but when I try to challenge them they just brush my questions, statements and scientific research off. One of my profs literally told me yesterday "just memorize it, that's what will be on the test." This is more of a rant than anything, but it is getting frustrating. Isn't University supposed to be a place to challenge what we are taught??? I am also looking for some good/paleo friendly masters programs to apply to next year, particularly in Canada. If anyone has any suggestions?
No, sarah they do not teach independent thought nor do they promote it in much of any school ever. You are expected to follow the status quo. Don't stand out or face getting pounded down. Do you listen to The Doors?
School does have the attribute of teaching what has already been discovered and discussed. From there you do have a better base of making informed decisions in the future. Try to look at it as a history lesson more than anything.
I see a lot of folks above have basically said what I was going to, but I'm going to say it anyway as I'm a college adjunct prof in my spare time (grin). You have to understand a few things about teaching that may or may not pertain to your current professor.
They may have input into the syllabus and textbook selection, but often times these are established by committee or other senior faculty member and the institution's accreditation (reviewed periodically) depends on adherence to this. Also, when accred is reviewed it is quite an undertaking and the oversight will include examples of student work, exams and assignments, etc. They don't follow the program and there could be hell to pay (and if they're not tenured ...)
As pertains to the textbook from #1, as an adjunct this is a huge issue for me. In the past few years the textbooks used for the courses I regularly teach have been changed up on me and not for the better. The new ones are horrible. I do provide lots of supplementary handouts, but it's a balancing act, especially with the cost of texts these days. If I don't use the text enough students will complain for being made to buy it ... but to use a text with obvious errors and political agendas woven in w/o correcting things is tricky indeed.
There's never enough lecture time from where I stand, lectures are never short enough from where most students sit. In order to get through even 80% of the proposed syllabus these days I have to severely limit student feedback, questions, etc. In an ideal world this wouldn't be so, but to your prof, your contrarian "input" is likely seen as disruptive. There's just not room in most classes of an introductory undergrad nature for dissent, critical thinking, challenging. It's difficult enough to convey the basics w/o being challenged. That's not ideal, and I try very hard not to pass along what I consider overtly erroneous concepts, but it can happen (luckily there's not much controversial in the subjects I teach).
Lastly, somewhat along the lines of #3, teaching these days is all about the syllabus, expectations, etc. Sometimes my syllabi are 3 pages in length. Why? Because in the interests of "fairness" we're supposed to evaluate everything equally. This means if you provide a reasonable answer to a problem but it's not what was taught, the prof would not be fair to award you credit for a wrong answer. If I tell my students they are responsible to know that A causes B, and some student challenges me about C also causing B, this discussion confuses things. Now the other students do not want to be held accountable for this C thing, and if C is not going to be on the test, why are we wasting time on it?
Get the letters ... then set out to change the world!
Honestly, do whatever it takes to get a good grade, don't argue. Going to class is your job, you're just there to one day make money, the material as we know is kinda just, "bologna!" You don't want to look odd by preaching Paleo even if it's correct. I'm in school and so much if I took seriously I felt like I would have no common sense left. I would say focus on keeping your common sense about what knowledge is and just memorize what you need to go get a decent grade.
I'm in the same boat, pursuing my M.S. in Nutrition and certification as a RD after that.
Fighting with professors is a lost cause and will make school that much more painful.
Take what you're being taught and realize it's going to be beneficial to know how "the other side" is thinking. I tell my professors I have Celiac's and keep my mouth shut when my obese professors praise vegetarian diets.
It's going to be a tough ride but very worth it in the end when we can get paid to be advocates of real food.
I'm in the same boat as nutritionator, albeit with a less catchy name.
I find that if you focus the most on the biochemistry and mechanisms of what happens, you can learn a lot which can be applied to why we make certain dietary recommendations.
Even though I'm pursuing the RD as well, I don't think many people respect RDs very much. Probably because there is generally a very poor understanding by RDs of what's going on under the hood. I think this is a result of the programs that place way too much emphasis on institutional food service and other non chemistry types of things.
There was a saying when I was in the military: Shut up and color.
Sometimes you do what you have to do. At the end of your education, if you still have any spirit left, you can use that to change the world. Until then though do what you have to do to pass, otherwise it will be a rough and bumpy ride. The best thing you can do is to write good open ended papers that present evidence to challenge the current hypothesis and to ask honest questions that challenge both the teacher and students to think. Also don't forget that most people in your class don't care, most people get their education to get better jobs not to change the world. Also realize that's it not the conclusions that people draw it's a fundamental flaw in thinking that needs to be changed which led to the current standard. If your goal is just to change what is accepted fact then it's no better than what we already have and you are just as guilty as the rest of wanting to make new facts to memorize even if the results are better. Often times just asking thought provoking questions is enough to make people realize how idiotic most accepted nutritional facts are. Change the way people draw conclusions and that is the first step to long term meaningful change...
You are dealing with a classic paradigm war. What you consider valid data is not seen as persuasive because it is not seen as relevant or even valid. Galileo invited the priests to look through his telescope and they refused because there was no way, whatever, any circumstances, that anything they might view would or could contradict their established "knowledge" (beliefs based on the supposed inerrancy of beliefs repeated for a very long time, considered valid because written down in a Book considered beyond doubt; inscrutable).
But let's not get too far afield. What should you do as a student. If this coursework is essential to your graduation, I suggest you welcome the opportunity to do what the instructor recommends, namely memorize the course catechism. Consider this an excellent chance to get thoroughly steeped in mainstream (Neolithic) nutrition. Meanwhile, consider your own studies in Paleo, diligently. Most of all, avoid the temptation to imagine there is any amount of valid data that can or will change the minds of your grade-wielding professorial high priests. Keep your wits about you, take good notes not only as to what they present in class as data but also as to their demeanor, tone, and tenor. In short, consider this a great venue for learning about the power of ideology over evidence.
Alternatively, you can choose the route of Sisyphus, holding fast to your (futile, if intellectually honest) ground, and being marginalized as a goofball in the eyes of your peers. Pushing heavy rocks up a hill can be a good workout, but it comes with a high risk of cortisol overload.