ERIC Number: ED381797
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1995-Mar
Reference Count: N/A
"Read My Lips" and Other Rhetoric: A Qualitative Ethical Study of TAs Using Standardized Syllabi in First-Year Composition Classes.
Gorelick, Risa P.
Much has been written on the ethics of teaching syllabi that pursue a particular social agenda. Depending on the commentator, these syllabi have been characterized as transformative, socially responsible, political, politically correct, unethical and immoral. Throughout this literature, however, the assumption is that the teacher presenting the syllabus has designed it and feels invested in its goals. However, at many universities, a majority of the first-year English composition sections are taught by graduate teaching assistants (TAs) who did not create the standard syllabus but are required nonetheless to teach it. This poses a unique set of ethical questions as yet unaddressed. A paradigm from Iris Marion Young's "Justice and the Politics of Difference" suggests that a politically-driven syllabus designed by someone higher on the academic hierarchy than the TA teaching the course is unethical. The graduate student is placed in a position in which economics forces a decision she is uncomfortable with. A study sent questionnaires to 49 TAs at a major midwestern university; 19 were returned. The questionnaire asked the TAs to reflect on the syllabus from the point of view of their ethical and moral beliefs. Responses showed both ends of the spectrum, both those who did not find themselves ethically troubled and those who were deeply troubled. The strongest response came from a first-year TA who found the department "ethically reprehensible." (TB)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Educational Issues
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Conference on College Composition and Communication (46th, Washington, DC, March 23-25, 1995).