Why do we discourage students with interests in serious adult topics?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by CaptainSheridan9316, Dec 25, 2019.

  1. CaptainSheridan9316

    CaptainSheridan9316 New Member

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    Dec 25, 2019

    I don't know how things are now but a little over a decade ago in an 7th grade Earth science class me and all the other students showed up a little early. There was a TV in the corner of the classroom meant for showing school news but this time there was a news channel on covering recent events in the Middle East. Some students debated on the current events and a little while later the teacher came in and turned it off even when it was a couple of minutes before class "officially" started. His justification was that we are kids and we are not interested in it. And the kicker was this was a retired military guy who served in Vietnam.

    This was a junior high school in suburban America. In this school most students were obsessed with "popularity", "athletics", and "dating". The teachers loved shows like 24 and books by Tom Clancy. We were shown movies like Rudy and Stand and Deliver. We watched a cheesy documentary meant to discourage youth from joining gangs. I did have a cool very intelligent teacher who immigrated from India who asked me if I saw Avatar the Last Airbender.

    Imagine how shocked these teachers and students knew an high achieving highly athletic student who wanted to become a military officer or scientist who loved shows like Babylon 5 or Battlestar Galactica.

    Why are we so afraid or intimidated when students express interest in serious adult topics like war or politics? Why do we discourage students when they show interest in intellectual subjects? Just because a human being is a middle or high school student they have to watch Disney Channel or CW teen soap operas rather than Babylon 5 or BSG and they have to aspire to be jocks and supermodels than military officers or scientists?
     
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  3. CherryOak

    CherryOak Companion

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    Dec 25, 2019

    I imagine he turned it off for him, not you, and used your youth as a much easier cop out in conversation.

    But, your premise is sound. Many do tend to underestimate and stereotype youth - like the generation before us.
     
  4. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    Dec 25, 2019

    I don’t think that is true everywhere. That was not my experience.
     
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  5. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    Dec 25, 2019

    Educators are less stressed about the students than they are about the student's parents outlooks on what is being presented to their students. If you have every been raked over the coals for showing inappropriate material, according to the parents, to their precious student who is too young, naive, or whatever term they choose to use, then you would understand why teachers sometimes don't bring up certain subjects or welcome a lot of discussion that goes off topic. Just thought that OP should consider that schools and school personnel try to find middle ground.
     
  6. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Dec 26, 2019

    On a side note, LOVE the Babylon 5 reference in your screen name.
     
  7. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    Dec 27, 2019

    Many adult topics are not black and white. It requires interpretation and insertion of opinion to carry on a discussion about the topics. There are some fabulous teachers who can lead a discussion without interjecting, even via the types of question they ask, their own opinion or view about a topic. Most can't, especially if it is a hot, emotional topic for which they hold strong beliefs.

    So, for many it is best to avoid the topic all together and allow the student to discuss the topic with someone outside of the school.
     
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  8. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    Dec 27, 2019

    You nailed it. Once the teacher's opinions and comments are personal, the discussion becomes students who believe the teacher against everyone else, and it often ends poorly, and creates hurt feelings. At that point, the discussion may draw parental input that doesn't end well.
     
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  9. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Phenom

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    Dec 27, 2019

    Exactly. Whenever I introduce a topic outside of the standard curriculum that is slightly controversial, I say, “Based on the data, it would appear that..., but this is by no means definitive. There is variability from sample to sample and the results could be drastically different given whoever responds.”

    I don’t interject my opinions even though I am may feel strongly about it. I, for the most part, allow the students to guide the discussion within limits and I like to put all of my students to stand and then go to one side of the room marked “Agree” or “Disagree.” Those who are neutral just stay standing at the front of the room. I then ask each side, “Why do you feel/think that way?” and “Do you think you have any idea why the other person(s) may feel the opposite?” and “Do you think that we can ever have a meeting of the minds given the opposing viewpoints or neutral stances?” and “Can there be any compromises; that is, can we have all sides be equally heard or represented in some way?”

    It makes my AP Stats classes really fun!
     
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2019
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  10. Tired Teacher

    Tired Teacher Habitué

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    Dec 28, 2019

    This sounds like a really fun idea. I taught younger kids and had to be so careful due to local attitudes. The kids asked me about things I'd really loved to tell them about, but they were not in our curriculum and not always age appropriate either.
    If I could explain it w/out any hint of controversy, or fear, I would. If it is 1 of those hot topics, I'd say you should ask your parents about that!
    There are also some things that horrify little kids when they find out about them. ( Depends on the kids) Like in 4th grade a lot of the reading material has to do with WW2 and Nazis. I used to teach it, but moved to 3rd and the kids at that age were really not ready emotionally to learn about that in this area.
    I remember when 911 happened, HS/MS teachers were highly criticized in the press here for keeping TV's on about it all day. I was working as the counselor then in elementary. The teachers there kept the news going in the lounge, but not during class.
    I remember some young kids being terrified. It was due to their parents hysteria in front of them. I remember finally pulling out a map w/ one kid and showing her how far away we were from NY.
    She was sure they were coming any time and would "take our guns too!" That is everyone's worst fear here: They are coming to take our guns! After Obama 1st got elected, I had kids who were sure that they'd be losing the families weapons THAT day! :) I guess that is a benefit of elementary not having to deal w/ a lot of history or current events in depth. I actually think I'd like teaching history to HS. Unfortunately, my 1st name is not Coach! :)
     
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2019

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