August 23, 2004

What students know (or think they do)

This semester is my first teaching one of the frosh courses in USF's Honors College, and I enjoyed meeting my students this morning, though there was one disconcerting minute or two, when I was trying to encourage discussion of real-life high-stakes examples of trying to discern truth. (The course, titled "Acquisition of Knowledge," is really an epistemology course.) I had discussed the controversies over Michael Bellesiles' now-discredited book (Arming America) that had won a prestigious historians' prize and controversies over what educational research is and is not, but those are fairly arcane matters for the first morning of the semester. Time to let them start a heated debate. So I asked how many had read or heard of the Swift Boat veterans ads or the controversy over Bush's National Guard service. The group looked sheepish while a few raised their hands. I was flummoxed. Oh, well. So much for students' keeping up with current events. Time to try another tack, I figured. I asked how many remembered the O.J. Simpson trial. I don't know why, really—it was the first thing that came to mind in terms of pop culture and discerning the truth.

Every hand went up.

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Posted in Teaching on August 23, 2004 7:07 PM |