The reading this week complicated the question for me, particularly the article by Barrows who asks quite astutely: “when the majority of students I teach assert, in all sincerity, that ‘the rest of the world hates us because we have all the power, riches, celebrities, and sports heroes, and they’re jealous of us,’ how can one not wish to unsettle the arrogance, paranoia, and xenophobia informing such a statement?” This was an attitude I saw in my own student’s paper, particularly in her indignation toward those who sought to deprive her of her beloved mascot. She expressed very little interest in understanding the viewpoints of those who would argue so passionately against the mascot; rather, it was her instinct to dismiss them completely as spoilsports. Barrows’ efforts to adjust some of these attitudes is totally worthwhile to me and I appreciate his approach in the classroom, how he has designed a course with the goal of checking the privilege of a certain "type" of college student: sheltered and spoiled to varying degrees. It’s given me a lot to think about in terms of how I design my next Rhet 105 section, whether or not I can build assignments and exercises into the course that will challenge my students’ preconceptions from the beginning, without jeopardizing their trust in me as in instructor. I feel like there must be a fine line between imposing my belief system on a classroom and challenging them to check their assumptions about race, gender, imperialism, capitalism (and the bounty of other issues in a very long list…).
image source: http://www.stltoday.com/chief-illiniwek-tattoo/image_8e4a9464-3391-11e0-8bb2-00127992bc8b.html