ERIC Number: ED413024
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1997-Oct
Political Agendas in the Classroom.
Henderson, Bruce R.
Teachers of writing face an unusual situation in the classroom in that there is no mandated agenda for what students should write about in their courses. In teaching critical thinking skills or methods of argument in writing essays, eventually writing teachers must introduce controversial issues and a political agenda. In fact, teachers' very existence in the classroom betrays an agenda, representing the valuation of learning over material reward and making it difficult for them to convince students that they support unregulated profit, for example, or cutting educational funding to build more prisons. Since it is virtually impossible to remain neutral, instructors should decide what they represent and then set about advocating in a balanced, fair-minded way. However, teachers currently face a backlash against efforts to expose students to a wider variety of viewpoints, and some are intimidated into silence. There is nothing wrong with encouraging students to consider non-mainstream views of the society around them, preferably through the use of the Socratic method rather than lectures or browbeating. Teachers have the responsibility to determine their own individual agendas and then act upon them in the classroom. The question is not whether to advocate, but rather the nature of that advocacy and its extent. (BCY)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the English Council of California Two Year Colleges Statewide Conference (San Francisco, October 16-18, 1997).