Odd materials at the university lessons

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Re: Odd materials at the university lessons

Postby zenmonkey » Sat May 27, 2017 11:59 am

Here's my take on this material and it's appropriateness - first off, it isn't some random material chosen without thought and outside of an educational framework. The OP's post in its brevity allows for all sorts of interpretations which then led the thread to take polarised views.

Personally, I can very much see both how this material can be taught appropriate or inappropriately.

If the students are informed beforehand and have the option to opt out of this course I do not see particular issue with it. Informed consent to address topics which ARE taboos and ARE difficult to address in no way reduced the 'adultness' of the participants. The relationship between a teacher and a student is not one of peers and the power position of the teacher, especially in the University setting, is exactly why we recognise moral and ethical obligations on their behaviour.

About 30 years ago I took a class on 'Film and Society' taught by Dr Money. We knew beforehand that the subject matter would be challenging and that the title did not represent the whole scope of what would be covered (The students called the course 'Sex and Money'). Dr Money is now gone, but the complexity of subject matter touched is suggested by his obit: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/11/us/11money.html

Even having known beforehand (and literally having the students sign off on it), the material touched taboos, explicit sexual elements, and areas of discussion that were heated and intricate and a few students dropped the class (it also had huge, long assignments ...) while the subject matter WAS appropriate for a university setting. The equivalent material in a language class, to a captured audience, would have been without a doubt inappropriate if presented without some sort of pre-amble. Language learning, even at advanced levels, should not occur in an environment where the students are obligate participants without warning.

Having said that, attaching an emotional element to language learning material is useful for learning - memorisation, ability to discuss under pressure, rhetoric capacity are all elements that are influenced positively from the difficulty of the material. But that shouldn't be a pigeoned exercise of 'bait and switch'.
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