Monday, September 12, 2005

You Got To Know When To Own Them, Know When To Fold Them

Isn't it funny that no matter how kids never remember the difference between compound and complex sentences, teachers have the strangest ways of owning their students?

This article from the LA Daily News talks about reactions to a teacher showing the documentary Outfoxed in class. The class was AP US History and the teacher was trying to teach about media bias and the 9-11 attacks.

I admire this Teacher's willingness to pull the video in the name of what's really important. Where I agree with the premise that Fox falls far short of its claim toward "fair and balanced" news, I don't want children agreeing blindly with me anymore than I want them agreeing blindly with Fox.

The best way I have found of dealing with the problem of teaching bias is to focus on ideas so far away from our present consciousness that few can argue with its insanity. We are looking at propaganda from the Jim Crow era to simply study the effects of bad logic--it's easier to look at the means when the message isn't so controversial.

A fellow English teacher echoes my thoughts as she describes a Math teacher at one of our feeder middle schools. Somehow in Math class, this teacher finds the time to express his feelings on the book The Grapes of Wrath. He tells his students flatly that it's "the worst book ever written" so that by the time these kids get to High School English, they are prone to chant all slackjawed, "Mr. Roboto says that The Grapes of Wrath is the worst book ever written.".

It's all a matter of knowing when to own your students.


Anonymous said...

If my math teacher was named Mr. Roboto, I'd probably believe everything he said, too.

Besides, I've broken at least one spine trying to get through that f&@!in' turtle chapter.

It's been a while since I've read it, but I remember really liking every other chapter or so. I mean, the ones without the Joads. Or the turtles.

Susan said...

I was nodding as I read this post. Which is dangerous, as I have not yet had enough coffee, and my head may fly off at any second. But I agree--if you can make them think by using the remote example, then hopefully they will be smarter the next time they face the immediate situation. See, I need more coffee.

And for years my brother referred to my husband (a native Oklahoman) as Tom Joad. Ha ha ha . . .

P M Prescott said...

Talk about having a fifth column! He should stick to teaching math. How would he like it if the elementary teachers told their students that after the get past 5th grade they don't need to learn any more math? That said, I have read a lot of Steinbeck, but he's not my favorite author. I think he's overrated.