A Fine Line

by Ryan on March 2, 2006

in Politics

Parsippany is a nice, quiet town in a pretty woodsy conservative area of Jersey. Like all blue states, New Jersey is a red state with blue streaks around the highways and in the urban areas. Yet, a teacher out there has decided to put President Bush on a mock war crimes trial for his classes to debate.

Debate is fine, but it’s the stench of agenda that reeks from this teacher’s classroom. He had a lesson to impeach President Clinton back in the 1990s by having his kids debate that topic. While these students will research and come up with conclusions, I am a little suspicious. Judge for yourself by reading the article, but something isn’t sitting right.

As a history teacher myself, I know there’s a fine line here. In my classroom, current events are always discussed in a controlled atmosphere where the debate is not won or lost, but the sides are exposed and the kids form their own conclusions. I guess that’s my response to having a bunch of self-obsorbed narcissistic, biased, agenda-laiden Boomers as my HS history teachers, who automatically inferred that Republicans were for the “rich” and the Democrats were for “real” people even if it didn’t even relate to the subject at hand. They didn’t necessarily want me to have my own point of view without an unhealthy dose of their own.

Clinton was actually impeached for clearly committing the crimes of perjury and obstructing justice. War crimes, however, are a much higher level of accusation (no one has charged Bush with anything like that in a real, substantive manner, and no trials have taken place) and I think, given NJ’s natural inclinations, this seems a bit biased against President Bush. Why not try Milosevic or Saddam, who actually committed war crimes, etc., and have the students learn the process better since an outcome is evident in both those authentic cases? Is this teacher inferring a moral equivilency? Blaming Bush without actually saying so? I don’t know, but as I said before, something’s not quite sitting right.

The pict came from www.sinomania.com

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Chris March 2, 2006 at 5:48 pm

Read this article and to tell the truth, it pissed me off. I am going to attach a blog I posted ealier on my site:

As a teacher, this kind of stuff that goes on in the classroom makes me absolutely sick and angry. Apparently, this social studies teacher decided to devote his lesson to a hate America rant. You can listen to the audio
here (http://www.9news.com/acm_news.aspx?OSGNAME=KUSA&IKOBJECTID=b8298706-0abe-421a-0116-75e16c449518&TEMPLATEID=0c76dce6-ac1f-02d8-0047-c589c01ca7bf) or here (http://www.850koa.com/cc-common/podcast/single_podcast.html?podcast=news_worthy.xml).

Here are some thoughts on this:

1) First off, I disagree with everything this guy is saying, but that’s not where my anger and shock lays. It’s nice to have political opinions and I respect people who do, on both sides, but there is a time to express them and a time not to express them. In the classroom in front of 25 or so students is NOT a place to express these opinions…the classroom IS NOT AND SHOULD NOT be meant as a place of indoctrination, but a place of free thought and open discussion. I can honestly say that if any of these kids spoke up, this guy would not be kind to their grades. As we all know, I have many political opinions, but I do not express them in class because my job is to teach the students how to think and not what to think…if they find out through outside sources, then fine, but they will never hear political opinions from me.

2) Second, WHY THE HELL IS HE LECTURING? As a teacher, this fool should realize that he is a facilitator of learning and a “sage on the stage.” Some administators in NJ would be more pissed that he’s not using student centered Gardner type methods. Plus half the students who don’t like lecture or the topic will probably tune him out and from experience, I can attest to the fact they’d rather be discussing the issue or participate in some sort of discovery activity.

3) I have no problem teaching and discussing controversial issues in the classroom, but as the teacher, one needs to remember that BOTH sides of the issue are necessary to discuss…for example, when I taught about media bias in Honors Foreign/Domestic, the students read a chapter out of “Bias” by Bernard Goldberg AND “What Liberal Media” by Eric Alterman, then participated in a discussion about the main points, author theses and whether they agree/disagree. Also the teacher should NEVER take a side in the classroom, but instead ask an opposing viewpoint question to allow the student time for critical thinking, as well as intellectual growth.

4) What the heck does a Blame America First rant have to do with geography, the class that was recorded? I mean, yeah, current events, but still BOTH SIDES with discussion and discovery activities…not just one side.

It makes me really angry that teachers like this can get away with this (and in many cases get tenured while others have to claw for it) and I commend Sean Allen for having the guts to tape him. You may say to me, “Chris, you’re a teacher, how would you feel if kids taped you?” My response, “I’m fine with it…I have nothing to hide, I’m good at my job and I’m providing a better service to the students than this guy.” You may also say that I am violating his free speech…there’s a little bit of a difference…you may be free, but like screaming fire on the top of your lungs on a Saturday afternoon at Garden State Plaza, you must also remember to be responsible in what you say and be congizant of your words’ ramifications.


Chris March 2, 2006 at 5:50 pm

If the links posted above do not work, you can get them via Drudge .


Mike March 2, 2006 at 6:07 pm

I was fortunate enough to have tolerant liberal instrcutors for most of my life. With two or three exceptions (all in the Providence College PoliSci Dept.), most liberal teachers or professors who made their opinions known also tolerated dissenting opinion. The conservative instructors always did.

Academia is one of the last institutions where liberals enjoy a near monopoly and actions like those referred to by Ryan and Chris, although infuriating, seem to suggest a growing sense of desperation on the left. They have lost their media monopoly, unions are in decline, there is a backlash against Hollywood, they haven’t controlled Congress in over a decade and they keep losing elections to an alleged simpleton who can’t break 50 percent in the polls or pronounce nuclear. Now the new media can shine a spotlight on their classroom activites. The writing may be on the wall. Whaddup Whigs!


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