Distinguishing Whether the Emperor is Indeed Clothed: Revolutionizing the Classroom by Creating an Environment of Controversial Questioning Rather than Nodding in Conformity to the Dictates of Power Structures
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Sex. Money. Politics. To ensure friendly interactions, this trio of “taboo” subjects is to be avoided in mixed company and polite conversation. Yet the ideas linked with the umbrella of these three are the foundation of personal ideologies, and tell more about a person than casual, “safe” chit chat. Classrooms tend to be safe zones, potentially stale with lessons in need of revival and void of controversy; but if the purpose of a classroom is to be an environment of learning, inspiration, and growth, why are such topics not included solely on the basis of avoiding difficult questions and potential offense? When taboo topics breach a classroom, oftentimes students set forth an opinion but they are unable to pinpoint where the belief set generated from. Ultimately identifying the source of a personal ideology is an essential point of self-reflection and personal understanding on the students’ part. Throughout time, social constructs have been forged by the dictates of social groups, religious doctrine, or political agendas that deem what is best for individuals within a society. And all too often, it is easier to follow rather to ask why we act the way we do and where the idea originated. Peeling the layers of personal philosophy down to its inception sets up a new platform for adding to or reconstructing the original belief set; thus, instructors should embrace the inclusion of these hard topics, provide information with and without bias for students to analyze, and allow the students to question and toy with their previously conceived notions and build upon their new ones. The value of individuals who question is critical to the progress of creating multicultural communities that choose understanding over misguided judgement. This, more than ever, should be the new direction classes should be heading.
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