Search This Blog

Tuesday, October 18

these are the times that try our souls

Talk radio has had such a significant impact on education.

I teach at a blue collar community college. Last week, I introduced my students to Watergate and the Clinton impeachment. Today, I was showing my students the New York Times, which is about as far away from their consciousness as country/western music is from mine. The Times, even though they have done a really terrible disservice to the nation with their involvement in the Judith Miller story, had a very good graphic explanation of the Plame affair Today, one of my students, who is a veteran, said of my demonstration, "Well, you believe whatever you want to believe."

My retort was, "Yeah, that better understanding of politics and the law just keeps me from being able to lose my grip on reality."

That is what education is like in the talk radio age. If every class, including the sciences, challenges students' belief systems, then we are not being "tolerant" of their beliefs. It isn't appropriate, according to these students, to tell them about reality. We should use each class to glorify our marvelous nation and our personal savior. To do otherwise is sending us down the path to enlightenment and away from God and his favorite nation, the United States.

No, this student wasn't overtly adding his religious views to our political science class. But he was subscribing to that same stubborn, anti-intellectual bewilderment that seethes under every lecture. I have had students tell me that their preachers told them this is a Christian nation.

I have had students tell me, "you wouldn't tell a third grader what you just told us," which consisted of exactly what their textbooks--conservative tomes that they are--say. My reply, "Well, I wouldn't lie to them about Santa Clause, either."

Speaking of Big Lies--why do we tell our daughters bedtime stories of men saving them from a life of housework, or men awakening them from deep wicked witch induced sleep? Why do we tell our children that the president goes to bed each night with only the selfless thoughts of a good king in his head? Why are students shocked when we explain the reasons we are at war?

I have to remind myself that it isn't really new. Something has not really changed. People have always had a problem confronting the truth. I guess I am as guilty, wishing that somehow things would be different, wanting to believe that education can reach everyone and change everyone's lives. That in the 21st Century we don't have to believe what we want to believe but can embrace objective reality.

No comments: