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Challenges

December 7, 2009

I showed the first three segments of this video in my class a few weeks ago (that is, 1/6, 2/6, and 3/6). Unfortunately, to some extent I failed my students by being too scared to debrief the video or to feel out student responses.

I was too afraid to ask, “What do you all think of this?,” because I was afraid that the majority of students would resist what he says and dismiss him out of hand (this is a real possibility). If that happened, I don’t think I could adequately defend his position. Because of that, I avoided debriefing the video altogether. Instead, I repeated a few of his comments and then continued lecturing on the textbook they’re reading.

My anxiety goes through the roof when I think about dealing with student resistance to this sort of material. Part of the problem is that I’m afraid I’d get angry at students. But that’s only a small part of it. I’m not sure what to make of this, or what to do about it. So I’m blogging about it to think through it.

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. December 7, 2009 8:18 pm

    Um, yeah. Isn’t that kind of like throwing a torch into a barn full of hay, and then running away?

  2. larry c wilson permalink
    December 7, 2009 8:32 pm

    You’re a professional. You don’t get angry with students.

  3. missivesfrommarx permalink*
    December 7, 2009 8:34 pm

    Yes and no. Some of the stuff in the video repeated some of the things we had already discussed.

    Sometimes I want to not teach stuff because I don’t want to fight battles I can’t win. There are some topics I don’t think are worth covering unless I have a whole damn semester to address them—some things simply can’t be adequately taught in 2 weeks. To try to teach some things in 2 weeks is to do them a disservice. Maybe I should ditch white privilege until I start a whole class on race and religion.

    But then I think that if I only persuade 2 or 4 out of 30 to notice their own privilege, it might have been worth it.

  4. missivesfrommarx permalink*
    December 7, 2009 8:34 pm

    Larry, are you serious? You never get angry with students? Students who, for instance, say racist or sexist things?

  5. missivesfrommarx permalink*
    December 7, 2009 8:39 pm

    I should mention that I rarely get angry—maybe about once a year. Recently I got angry when a student simply outright denied the statistics about race and wealth I presented to the class.

  6. larry c wilson permalink
    December 7, 2009 11:47 pm

    Getting angry results in minds shutting down. Just because a student is resistant to an idea new to them when they first hear it does not mean they will not think about it later…and frequently alter their views. Your influence will last long after the class is over and through your students affect individuals you will never know.

  7. missivesfrommarx permalink*
    December 7, 2009 11:50 pm

    Larry, of course; I absolutely agree in principle. But every once in awhile it’s hard to follow through …

  8. December 8, 2009 11:21 pm

    Great lecture by the way. I had not seen this particular talk given by Tim Wise and it is brilliant. Thanks Missives!

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