Partisan History Spoken Here

After 34 years of college teaching, I thought I had heard just about every imaginable student complaint. Last week, however, a freshman in my 300-seat US History Since 1865 course came in to discuss her exam with one of the graders and proceeded to work herself into a semi-hissy over the fact that we had spent four class periods(one of them consisting of a visit from MLK biographerTaylor Branch) discussing the civil rights movement. "I don't know where he's getting all of this," she complained, "we never discussed any of this in high school." One might have let the matter rest here as simply an example of a high school history teacher's sins of omission being visited on the hapless old history prof. had the student not informed the TA in an indignant postcript, " I'm not a Democrat! I don't think I should have to listen to this stuff!"
Given the student and,in some places, administrative, pressures to put absolutely everything-- notes, study guides, all potential exam questionsand answers, etc.-- on the Web, I can envision the day when the Web pages for our classes might read: " In order to insure that the professor's lectures will not offend your political sensibilities or challenge any of your current beliefs and perceptions in any way, please indicate by clicking the appropriate box below to indicate whether you prefer the Republican or Democratic version of this course."
I might add that the this troubling episode was offset to some extent by the example of the student who got shot week before last, but showed up for class the next day. I, for one, am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt as to why he smelled as though he had taken a bath in Natural Light.

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This page contains a single entry by Jim Cobb published on May 10, 2006 4:09 PM.

Not Exactly What Ol' Buck Had in Mind? was the previous entry in this blog.


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