Wednesday, March 08, 2006

High School Teacher Rant

Michelle Malkin posts the transcript of the geography teacher's rant.

My uncle asks "Is he a menace?"

Menace? No. That would be reserved for someone who was causing some direct danger. He is an idiot, however. This class was a long rant of his, specifically teaching opinion instead of fact and inquiry. I think such things can be done legitimately, if it is understood that the teacher is intentionally taking one side of an argument and challenging the students to "give me your best shot." My guess is most HS students could not care much less and the teacher wouldn't get much action.

I don't get the impression that this is what's happening here. Context might give a different picture, but it sure seems that this teacher is putting this forward, not as a point of view, but of what is true. That's hardly legitimate. The teacher knows the subject to be discussed in advance, and can line up his data and arguments to make it look like all the facts are on one side. That's hardly teaching. If the teacher got put on a Sunday morning talk show, without being told in advance what the subject was going to be, and was then asked to go toe-to-toe with the other participants he'd get creamed -- even if he was right. There's something abusive about a teacher who wants to pummel students like this.

Reimagine this style and stacking the deck from a teacher in South Carolina in 1850 defending slavery. Y'see, it doesn't look dangerous and abusive when you sort of agree with the speaker's points, and think that getting kids to "wake up" is a good thing.

I imagine that equally stupid things, from a variety of teacher's soapboxes, are said every day in American HS classrooms. People rant, and most students pick up pretty quickly what it's about. Usually people rant within their own field, railing on about how Shakespeare isn't taught properly anymore, or the school board doesn't understand the value of band instruments. Linguists can sound like this if you bring up Ruhlen or Greenberg. Non-keynesians can pop a blood vessel over Keynesians. You expect a geography teacher to hew pretty close to geography, just as you expect the dentist to clean the kid's teeth, not teach him about local zoning laws. But teachers wander off topic a lot. There's not a lot of accountability for some things they do (and ridiculous accountability for others -- typical bureaucracy).

Jonathan's point is well taken, that the describing one student as brainwashed is engaging in the same poisoning-the-well that they complain about in Bennish.

Is this an amazingly ill-informed person, wandering off topic onto favorite soapboxes, unclear of the line between opinion and fact? Sure. So? That's what highschool pretty much is, isn't it? If we looked hard enough, we might find a conservative nutcase who runs his class the same way.

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