Edited by John Ishiyama, William J. Miller and Eszter Simon
Chapter 21: Teaching controversial topics
It is never good when a student stands up and starts screaming that you are trying to brainwash the class – or is it? The student was objecting to a video depicting poor labor conditions in factories in developing nations, the first result pulled from a Google Videos search for ‘sweatshops’. On the one hand, this student soon found himself involved in frank debate with classmates about government intervention in markets, including the provenance of the public university in which this exchange was taking place. On the other hand, being challenged by his peers did not calm the situation, and the student created a disruptive atmosphere by attempting to shout over the instructor with accusations that the object of the class was socialist indoctrination. How about when the impending end of the United States military’s ban on gay service members leads one student in uniform to declare that if another man made a pass at him he would ‘kick his teeth in’? This statement produced laughter from several classmates, but these caused an offended gay student to demand an apology.
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