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View Diary: Stop fucking with my teaching! (29 comments)

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  •  I don't keep my political position (4.00)
    a secret.  In some situations, it's because my own experience (as an activist/organizer) serves as a nice example for a theoretical point I'm making.  Even though they know my political leanings, I also make it clear I'm not trying to persuade them to vote Democratic...my job is to teach them sociology and that's what I do.  (Honestly, my sociological training has contributed to my liberalism more than my liberalism to my teaching.)

    I've taught in smaller town schools, and I find there to be a couple of difficulties.  The first is, as you accurately describe, a desire to remain ignorant, which can be supported by some administrators.  There's even more of that type of pressure, I'm guessing, at state schools in conservative places.

    The other thing I found was a bias ingrained in the faculty.  "Oh, this is basically a second-rate school.  Our students can't handle being challenged, intellectually or ethically, so we might as well teach down to them."  I find that attitude even more destructive.  it works against an academic culture of critical inquiry and pedagogy.  It serves our students poorly, and allows them to wallow in their willful ignorance.

    I am a revolting homosexual!

    "If you don't like me, I'm going to make you hate me."*****Margaret Cho

    by MAJeff on Fri May 20, 2005 at 04:23:08 PM PDT

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    •  Faculty attitude (4.00)
      ...does make a huge difference.  Kind of shocking to find faculty who will say "well, what do you expect from students who __", whether they fill in that blank with "go here" or "major in Education".  (Ever hear of self-fulfilling prophecy??)

      "...my sociological training has contributed to my liberalism more than my liberalism to my teaching."

      Yes, I believe that.  After learning certain sets of facts, it's almost inevitable that a thinking person will become more liberal.  After a semester of learning child development or abnormal psychology, students tend to be a little bit more outraged about the state of affairs in the U.S. too.  

      More than just the facts, though, I think critical reasoning is likely to lead the average person to become more liberal right now.  Another reason why the Republicans are trying to attack education.  An ignorant populace is a controllable populace.  

      Good diary--thanks for posting it.

      "Why, Tom, we're the people that live. They ain't gonna wipe us out. Why, we're the people--we go on." Ma Joad, The Grapes of Wrath

      by rocketito on Fri May 20, 2005 at 04:47:48 PM PDT

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      •  Glad you enjoyed it (none)
        The faculty attitude issue is one that stuck with me.  You're right about the self-fulfilling prophecy of "well, what do you expect from students who __."  What if we actually tried to teach up to them as people wanting to learn?  What if we showed them the actual respect we're always talking about at "student-centered" institutions.  An institution where the faculty culture encourages teaching down is most definitely not student-centered.

        It's amazing, I've almost always found that if you challenge them, students will come along for the ride.  Sure, it sometimes goes against the overall work culture of a school, but the most motivated students will rise to the occassion...and the others may learn a thing or two along the way as well.

        I am a revolting homosexual!

        "If you don't like me, I'm going to make you hate me."*****Margaret Cho

        by MAJeff on Fri May 20, 2005 at 04:53:39 PM PDT

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        •  And even those students (4.00)
          ...who seem most attached to their own ignorance can learn.  I've been shocked and pleased by the progress of some of the most hard-core religious right students I have had--no, they're not going to become raging atheists, but then...who cares?  Every student can be more open-minded.  Every one can grow.

          And of course, that's why we do it anyway, isn't it?  When all the outside crap goes away, it's awfully enjoyable to be a part of that process.

          "Why, Tom, we're the people that live. They ain't gonna wipe us out. Why, we're the people--we go on." Ma Joad, The Grapes of Wrath

          by rocketito on Fri May 20, 2005 at 04:58:58 PM PDT

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          •  Indeed (none)
            Watching people open their eyes to other ways of seeing the world and helping them notice particular things with this new sight is a special gift.  

            Knowing that we have that ability and power makes clear how responsibly we have to use it.  That's what pisses me off so much about this...the assumption that we don't know, think about, worry about, and take seriously the responsibilities that come with these jobs.  The project their own ethics onto us, and I resent that like hell.

            I am a revolting homosexual!

            "If you don't like me, I'm going to make you hate me."*****Margaret Cho

            by MAJeff on Fri May 20, 2005 at 05:02:10 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Doubt (none)
            "Every student can be more open-minded.  Every one can grow."

            I imagine the counter-argument from the religious right would be that "open-minded" and "growth" are merely euphemisms for leading young people into doubt and error.  

            We here promote skepticism and doubt as positive Socratic tools for learning, but to the other side skepticism and doubt are symptoms of declining spiritual health.

            That's what we need to address.

            •  Any suggestions for how? (none)
              Because I think you're right.

              "Why, Tom, we're the people that live. They ain't gonna wipe us out. Why, we're the people--we go on." Ma Joad, The Grapes of Wrath

              by rocketito on Fri May 20, 2005 at 07:52:18 PM PDT

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              •  I honestly don't know, but ... (none)
                It's awfully hard, maybe impossible.  If you use reason to demonstrate an inconsistency in their ideological framework, they feel fully justified in ignoring it, changing the subject, or passing it off as a mystery.

                Maybe the best way to approach them and get them thinking is to say "Let's put aside this political talk and see how we can help the poor or the hungry or the outcast, the people Jesus minsitered to."  Once they see that a liberal do-gooder can actually do good, andf that politics can be about caring for the whole community, their hearts might thaw a bit.

              •  How I try and the excuse I have (none)
                Since I'm in English, I feel like I can sneak a little bit of this past people because I'm "just" talking about literature. But I feel like even pretty close-minded kids have gotten the idea by college that lit is supposed to mean "more than one thing" -- haven't had anyone who tries to do Biblical exegesis on Virginia Woolf, for instance. So I think the abilities that you guys are talking about -- like critical thinking, thinking about how your environment effects your interpretation of the world, possible interpretations and the investments people have in them -- are a little bit easier to talk about when it's not something so personal as innate beliefs. But then I don't have to ask them to apply the skills to their own life, I just naively hope that something sinks in...

                reduce polarization -- hug a republican

                by golightly21 on Sat May 21, 2005 at 07:06:36 PM PDT

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      •  rocketito! a new use for the "compound": (none)
        Our own institution of higher learning -- what say? ;)

        To write in plain vigorous language one has to think fearlessly, and if one thinks fearlessly one cannot be politically orthodox. George Orwell, 1946

        by deepintheheartoftx on Fri May 20, 2005 at 05:15:00 PM PDT

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        •  Just one problem (none)
          By then, higher learning will be against the law.  Then again, so will we!

          Let's do it.  :)

          "Why, Tom, we're the people that live. They ain't gonna wipe us out. Why, we're the people--we go on." Ma Joad, The Grapes of Wrath

          by rocketito on Fri May 20, 2005 at 05:25:38 PM PDT

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          •  Just say the word! (none)
            I feel like running away right now....only I have nowhere to run to.

            To write in plain vigorous language one has to think fearlessly, and if one thinks fearlessly one cannot be politically orthodox. George Orwell, 1946

            by deepintheheartoftx on Fri May 20, 2005 at 05:36:07 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

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