ThoughtLights

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Campaign trailing, campaign teaching

Two things about me: I try to keep up with politics, and I'm fairly stoic in my disposition. It surprises people, I think, when I have strong opinions because I'm not the overly vocal type. In fact, Im usually torn between promoting my stance and feeling like I shouldn't foist opinions on other people.

In the classroom, it becomes harder, because of the power dynamic. But I think it's important. Two of my favorite professors here have successfully brought politics into the class. In Chuck Garrett's course this semester on U.S. music and national identity, we looked at Obama's speech (I was surprised I was the only one who'd watched it in the class-the general readership here is encouraged to find it and read it) and talked about his vision of national identity. And Christi-Anne Castro's music of Asia class last year regularly looked at these cultures from a contemporary politics/world events in a way that was both enriching and fascinating.

This week, I tried to talk about race and music in response to white rock and roll covers, and last week's day on the Harlem Renaissance. I can't tell if it was successful or not, but I hope it raised some issues. And next week the GSI union (GEO) is preparing for a two-day work stoppage. I brought it up, I welcome student support, but again I don't want to abuse my position of authority by encouraging students to join us too strongly.

I've always been impressed with professors who engage in politics and other touchy subjects in ways that provoke discussion, but don't divulge too much about their views. And I've always been impressed by students who take an active interest and follow up these things. At this stage in the game, I'm finding it not only hard to be both, but necessary.

1 Comments:

  • I have a very similar political disposition--my own politics are quite feverently to the left, but this is often not obvious to people because I have a quiet disposition. This was a problem in college, when it took some effort on my part to convince other activists that I was the real thing, but I find it makes me a much more effective teacher/classroom propagandist these days. Students seem much more willing to listen to you talk about political things if you are able to do it in a manner outside the realm of usually-strident political discourse

    By Blogger PMG, At March 25, 2008 at 12:30 PM  

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