Friday, October 06, 2006

The Great Debate At School

For the second year in a row, a student has come to me and asked me to debate one of our uber-lib teachers at lunchtime. To be honest, I'm lukewarm about doing this. If I'm going to give up my (sacred) lunchtime for something, it needs to be something big. The question becomes, what would we debate that would be of value to our students?

Some students say the obvious topic is the Iraq War. Yawn. There's nothing to debate. I can't imagine that disinterested students would walk by on the quad, hear the debate on this topic, and decide to stop and pay attention. My guess is that most people, even students, already have their minds made up on this topic. There would be no point in debating it.

Last spring when I was first approached about this, my colleague and I tossed a few topics back and forth. Neither of us liked what the other came up with. Well, except for one. He emailed "How about gay marriage?" I replied, "No problem. I get the 'pro' side." That ended that topic.

I really don't know what we could debate that's genuinely open for debate and would interest students during lunch. Suggestions?


Pseudotsuga said... have to aim where it hurts them, before they decide to pay attention.
How about something like not allowing drivers' licenses until a person is 18?

Anonymous said...

Debate the idea that all cultures are equal.

I was a physics and physical science teacher in Hawaii last year and the topic came up. In my case the local kids loved the fact that I pointed out some of the failings of different cultures, including Hawaiian culture, and didn't make any apologies for "the white man".

Anonymous said...

Something school related.

Anonymous said...

1) Post-modernism: relativism, absence of absolute truth, multiculturalism

2) detrimental affects of tv (or computers for that matter.. see Stoll)

3) School dress code

4) required community service for graduation

those are a few off the top of my head

Anonymous said...

Graphing calculators

Anonymous said...

School choice/vouchers. Gets into what your students think of the quality of their education, and if it could be made better.

Anonymous said...

1.) 99% of Rio wouldn't be able to comprehend any of that. Thankfully, I'm in the 1% that does. To some extent, at least.

And it bores me. Besides, what high school student wants to hear a debate on that?

2.) Yet again, boring. Sorry.

3.) Bingo! Many feel strongly on this. I could care less..but then again, I'm not your average Rio student.

4.) Silly. It's forcing people to do good things. What's the value of a forced apology? 0. Abso-freakin'-lutely zero. In the same light, what's the lasting value of conscripted community service? Once again, 0. To make someone realize the value of something, one much make them realize that it IS valuable—in the long run.

^Besides, I don't think anyone has the right to tell someone else that they HAVE to do a good deed. Good deeps should be done on ones' own initiative.

Dress code, stem-cell research...yada yada yada. Something that can be debated. Such as the legalization of marijuana. I'm sure Rio would love that debate.

" have to aim where it hurts them, before they decide to pay attention.
How about something like not allowing drivers' licenses until a person is 18?"
Hit us where it hurts? Only because the average Rio student is immature and doesn't realize that driving isn't a big deal. I won't be driving until I'm about 18, and that's by personal choice. Hell, I don't have anywhere to go, my parents are happy to drive me where ever, whenever—why do I need a driver's licence?

On the actual blog: Blenner was right not to agree to debate gay marriage. I was...more or less forced to debate gay marriage last year. Against it. I felt dirty, unclean and homophobic. The last being a combination of the first two. It IS impossible to debate gay marriage. It is horrendously immoral to even speak against it, let alone pass a constitutional amendment against it. Don't forget, it was once illegal for a black man to marry a white woman...everything will change soon enough, as soon as our homophobic administration is out of office.

Besides, everyone knows that you're fairly conservative, everyone knows [I assume you're speaking of Blendogg? I discussed this subject with him after APUSH one day] is fairly liberal. Yeah, that's right...don't deny it. You're FAIRLY conservative. Regardless of what some silly internet quiz says...
Anyways, point being, I wouldn't watch the debate. I would rather that your students worry about the lesson plan and the class rather than your political views. Not that I don't enjoy your political tangents; they do amuse me so, but still—class is for learning, not worry about the political views of your teachers.

Anonymous said...

Personally, if I were asked to do this, I would refuse -- only because it is my policy never to let my politics surface in my classroom. Sure, lots of former students know my politics, but I never take my politics into the classroom.

But that's just me.

Darren said...

Interesting comment, Nigel. The only thing I think you got wrong, very wrong, was your implication that it's this "homophobic administration" that's keeping gay marriage from being a reality. The last administration obviously didn't push the issue, and every single state that's voted on the issue--including rather liberal California--has voted it down mightily. In California, it was 2-1--and even if every single Republican voted against it, there would still have to be a ton of Democrats to do so as well to get a 2-1 margin. It even flopped in Oregon, and there are only 7 Republicans in that whole state.

*Americans* aren't ready for gay marriage yet. Things are changing, and the country is more ready for it than it was, say, 20 years ago, but even liberal states (I think about 30 states have held referenda on this) are still voting it down.

Can't blame this on the Bushies, or even on Republicans.

Anonymous said...

How about arming some teachers and principals like that Wisconsin representative suggested?

Darren said...

I've often wondered about that "arming teachers" thing. I'm not so sure I even want that responsibility.

"Give me your weapon, or I blow this kid's brains out." Now the bad guy has two weapons, and I haven't accomplished anything worthwhile. I need someone to explain to me why arming teachers is a good idea.

I'll protect my son and my property. I'm not convinced, yet, that I need to be part of a deputized posse. And I doubt my liberal colleague would disagree.

Walter E. Wallis said...

Discuss whether the immediate nature of news coverage of school shootings encourages copycat shootings.

Anonymous said...

Can you trust each teacher with a weapon? HAHAHAHA. no.

Darren said...

Today on my way to cancel my Costco membership and rejoin Sam's Club (all is now right in the world), I heard that Wisconsin legislator on the radio. He thinks teachers should have the weapons for self defense only, *not* to have a posse go out to attack intruders. He said it would just be a side benefit that kids would be protected in the process.

Also pointed out that some states already allow this, and it's *never* created a single problem in a school thus far. Interesting points; I admit that hearing him made me much less dismissive of the idea.

Anonymous said...

Debate the value of developing both mental and physical toughness.

allen said...

Now you're on my home turf.

Thirty-eight states have enacted right-to-carry laws which means that a license to carry a concealed pistol must be issued unless there exists any one of a fairly small number of reasons why the license shouldn't be issued. In every one of those states part of the process is a background check to detect a criminal convictions or involuntary commitments for mental health conditions.

The results speak for themselves: CCW license holders have lower rates of criminal behavior then district attorneys, cops, priests and judges. Research which, you should pardon the expression, has proven bullet-proof also shows that the enactment of shall-issue laws reduces violent crimes. It doesn't take too many incidents in which CCW holders put a stop to a violent crime before the criminal element of society gets the message.

Does this mean I'm in favor of arming teachers? No. You arm soldiers or cops as demanded by their duties but citizens have a *right* to protect themselves. They may not choose to exercise that right but the choice should be made by the individual for their own reasons not by society for society's reasons.

For those citizens who pass a background check and choose to carry a firearm, the responsibility tends to be heavy. Misuse or make a mistake with that firearm and you might not just end someone else's life, you'll end your own. Even if the use is above reproach the repercussions are still serious and can be long-lasting. Those are the kinds of thoughts that intrude when that weight is riding on your hip.

It's not so much a question of whether or not to arm teachers. The proper question is whether there's any substantive reason to prohibit teachers from exercising their right to protect themselves. Since the answer is "no" in the rest of society, I don't see any good reason why it would be "yes" for teachers in school.

Ellen K said...

I am seriously considering getting a gun and a concealed carry license. Mostly because I can, but also because if things go as I think they will, we will see further erosion of our rights, which pretty much plays into the hands of any group from the outside that wanted to mount an armed attack. That being said, I am against teachers in the classroom having guns. Any school teachers will tell you that there are no secure places in the classroom. Plus, in order for the weapon to be ready to use, we would have to resort to a holster. I am not sure I could teach with a holster. Now, for administrators, especially of rural schools, I could see a very valid issue. They could store their weapons securely and the training would hopefully be encompassing enough to really teach them how and when to use such force. The problem is that we have a group of administrators who think that every problem comes down to "sitting down and talking it over". When you have an armed looney in the classroom, with an intent to kill or be killed, reasonable discussions fly out the window. BTW, what the heck did it matter whose bullet shot the gunman in that Colorado school seige? He's dead and that saves us a lot of time in court. Thank God.

Anonymous said...

I think that all gun issues are blown way out of proportion in Ca. In most of the US guns are perfectly accepted. To tie it to the classroom i think that if a teacher feels the need to carry a gun they should be able to but therfore students should be allowed to too. If everybody had a gun in the US it would probably lower crime because of mutual tention.