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OneWorld22
4th Apr 2006, 14:34
Meanwhile, in January in Aurora, Colorado, social studies teacher Jay Bennish answered questions in his world geography class about President George Bush's speech from his students at Overland High School. Caricaturing Bush's speech, Bennish said, "'It's our duty as Americans to use the military to go out into the world and make the world like us.'" He then continued: "Sounds a lot like the things Adolf Hitler used to say: 'We're the only ones who are right, everyone else is backwards and it's our job to conquer the world and make sure they all live just like we want them to.' Now I'm not saying that Bush and Hitler are exactly the same. Obviously they're not, OK? But there are some eerie similarities to the tones they use."

Unbeknown to him, one 16-year-old student, Sean Allen, recorded part of the class on his MP3 player. When his Republican father heard it he was so incensed that he shopped it around to local conservative radio stations, where it finally found a home with radio talk-show host Mike Rosen.

Later in Bennish's class, the teacher had told his students, "I am not in any way implying that you should agree with me. I don't even know if I'm necessarily taking a position. But what I'm trying to get you to do is to think, all right, about these issues more in depth, and not just take things from the surface. And I'm glad you asked all your questions because they're all very good, legitimate questions." Rosen only played the first part of the tape on his programme. He also put it on the internet.

The next day, the Cherry Creek school district suspended Bennish, arguing that he had at least breached a policy requiring teachers to be "as objective as possible and to present fairly the several sides of an issue" when dealing with religious, political, economic or social issues.

The suspension sparked rival demonstrations at school. Hundreds of students staged a walkout, a few wearing duct tape over their mouths while some chanted, "Freedom of speech, let him teach." A smaller demonstration was staged against Bennish, with students writing "Teach don't preach" on their shirts.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/usa/story/0,,1746227,00.html

zed3
4th Apr 2006, 15:01
Aaaah.....the Land of the Free !!!?

Binoculars
4th Apr 2006, 15:02
OW22, you surely know that merely quoting the Guardian as a link enables the usual suspects to dismiss the subject matter as lefty pinko crap and not have to address it.

XXTSGR
4th Apr 2006, 15:09
Yes, indeed, Binos - so here's the Seattle Times:- http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/education/2002843251_teacher04.html

djk
4th Apr 2006, 15:12
OW22

I don't feel he should have lost his job over it. But should have been given a warning.
Teachers are meant to teach the solid facts, not their own opinions.
A teacher is meant to be impartial, bearing in mind that if a teacher is well liked and well respected, whatever their political beliefs they can be very influential to their class. I agree with the whole freedom of speech bit, people are entitled to their own opinions.

I fully support the teacher especially when they said
"I am not in any way implying that you should agree with me. I don't even know if I'm necessarily taking a position. But what I'm trying to get you to do is to think, all right, about these issues more in depth, and not just take things from the surface. And I'm glad you asked all your questions because they're all very good, legitimate questions."

But the upshot of it all really is that a teacher's own political views have to be shown to be neutral before the children that they are teaching. If the teacher wanted to have the children start a debate and air their views, then that would have been totally acceptable.

Incidentally before anyone jumps down my throat, I'm not a supporter of Bush, plus I can't vote in the US elections as I'm just a resident and not a US citizen.

G-CPTN
4th Apr 2006, 15:18
Was this the teacher's first such 'lecture'?
Was the pupil recording it 'for their own use' (ie revision)?

acbus1
4th Apr 2006, 15:19
They going to make religious views neutral as well?

Dave Martin
4th Apr 2006, 15:21
DJK,

It would be very difficult to ever teach something like this in a neutral way, though.

One of the best ways of explaining such things as genocide or actions we find unbelieveable is to put them in a present day context that students can relate to.

Now I suppose he could have used, say, MacArthy as an example, but to a class of 16 year olds that wouldn't have got anywhere. Some of my best lessons were when our English teacher equated our present day situations to those of previous generations, put us in their shoes and made it apparent how tenuous our own grip on morality or "right" behaviour is.

djk
4th Apr 2006, 15:23
They going to make religious views neutral as well?

I really wish they would.
What's always puzzled me is that it's getting to the stage where we can no longer refer to Christmas lunch at work. Instead we had to call it "Holiday Lunch" just in case it offended anyone from other religions, yet not matter what religion you are at school, the children have to take the pledge of allegience to the flag which states in one of its lines "one nation under god"

Binoculars
4th Apr 2006, 15:24
djk, look at the quote you selected. How can you then go on to scold that the teacher's views should be neutral? How neutral can he get? Should he sing God Bless America to prove his neutrality?

djk
4th Apr 2006, 15:27
djk, look at the quote you selected. How can you then go on to scold that the teacher's views should be neutral? How neutral can he get? Should he sing God Bless America to prove his neutrality?

Binos,

I'm not scolding the teacher, I'm merely suggesting that rather impart his own political views on to the children, that perhaps it would have been better to get the children to start the debate and he merely chair it to keep things on the level.

And if you re-read the quote that I highlighted, I did say "I fully support the teacher especially when they said.." to which I do.

Binoculars
4th Apr 2006, 16:07
Yes, children are very good at prompting debates. The little buggers have a habit of popping up in the middle of a class and suggesting a discussion of the historical similarities between Hitler and GWB. :hmm:

You claim to fully support the teacher in something, so what is your argument?

strafer
4th Apr 2006, 16:14
The next day, the Cherry Creek school district suspended Bennish, arguing that he had at least breached a policy requiring teachers to be "as objective as possible and to present fairly the several sides of an issue" when dealing with religious, political, economic or social issues.
What's the problem exactly?

fmgc
4th Apr 2006, 16:25
How can a teacher be unbiased. Surley it is not possible. Take for example Relgious Studies, mostly taught by preists who would never in a millian years be unbiased about it.

Binoculars
4th Apr 2006, 16:31
Quite correct again. A preist teaching relgious studies could surley never in a millian years be unbiased, so how could any other teacher ever be unbiased?

Oh dear. :uhoh:

strafer
4th Apr 2006, 16:33
I was under the impression 'Religious Studies' were illegal in most US schools?

Apart from the ones that think Creationism should be taught in science class. :*

djk
4th Apr 2006, 16:47
Yes, children are very good at prompting debates. The little buggers have a habit of popping up in the middle of a class and suggesting a discussion of the historical similarities between Hitler and GWB. :hmm:
You claim to fully support the teacher in something, so what is your argument?

Binos,

Have you actually read my reply? it seems that you're only taking one half of what I typed.

I said I support the teacher when they said
"I am not in any way implying that you should agree with me. I don't even know if I'm necessarily taking a position. But what I'm trying to get you to do is to think, all right, about these issues more in depth, and not just take things from the surface. And I'm glad you asked all your questions because they're all very good, legitimate questions."

However they should not have used the classroom to begin with to air their own personal political views.

Now do you understand what I'm trying to say?

4Foxtrot
4th Apr 2006, 17:24
Sounds familiar:

"La Prensa said there was no freedom of the press in Nicaragua. This was a lie and we could not let them print it"

Sandinista Regime Press Release

obgraham
4th Apr 2006, 17:46
Well, seems to me the Guardian is using this issue to promote its wider agenda, that academia shouldn't be responsible for what it says. So they only report part of the story.
The Colorado teacher issue was a month ago. And after investigating, he was given his job back. What's wrong with that?

XXTSGR
4th Apr 2006, 17:55
obg - try reading the whole article. It only uses the Bennish case as one illustration of how anyone remotely left of centre is under fire in the USA by campaigns of innuendo, lies and mudslinging for their politics. For example:-In February, Horowitz published a book, The Professors: the 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America, in which he lists, in alphabetical order, the radical academics whom he believes are polluting academe with leftwing propaganda. "Coming to a campus near you: terrorists, racists, and communists - you know them as The Professors," reads the blurb on the jacket. "Today's radical academics aren't the exception - they're legion. And far from being harmless, they spew violent anti-Americanism, preach anti-semitism and cheer on the killing of American soldiers and civilians - all the while collecting tax dollars and tuition fees to indoctrinate our children." The book is a sloppy series of character assassinations, relying more heavily on insinuation, inference, suggestion and association than it does on fact. Take Todd Gitlin, a journalism and sociology professor at Columbia University. Gitlin was the leader of Students for Democratic Society, a radical anti-war movement in the 60s. Today, his politics could be described as mainstream liberal. He supported the war in Afghanistan but not in Iraq and hung out the Stars and Stripes after the terrorist attacks on September 11. He has recently written a book, The Intellectuals and the Flag, calling for progressives to embrace a patriotic culture that distinguishes between allegiance to one's country, which he supports, and loyalty to one's government, which he does not.One wonders whether thoughtcrime will make it onto the statute books in the USA any time soon...?

Dave Martin
4th Apr 2006, 17:55
Probably the fact that it was made an issue of in the first place.

One has to be careful of saying all is well simply because the teacher got his job back. It's quite possible to stifle an entire debate by simply elminating it for a short period of time, or spreading a fear that similar actions will occur to other teachers. The initial claim serves as a warning.

strafer
4th Apr 2006, 18:11
Ah Dave & XX - Welcome back.

Here's where you're wrong.

1) School has policy of requiring teachers to be "as objective as possible and to present fairly the several sides of an issue" when dealing with religious, political, economic or social issues
2) Teacher was (according to the Guardian) caricaturing Bush's speech.
3) Teacher suspended for duration of investigation. Investigation decides that it wasn't that bad and he is reinstated.
4) Bush ate all of the young children in the school while roaring "Fee, Fi, Fo, Fum".

Only one of the above is untrue. As are your flights of fancy.

OneWorld22
4th Apr 2006, 20:26
strafer, and the teacher didn't say,


"I am not in any way implying that you should agree with me. I don't even know if I'm necessarily taking a position. But what I'm trying to get you to do is to think, all right, about these issues more in depth, and not just take things from the surface. And I'm glad you asked all your questions because they're all very good, legitimate questions."

????

Grandpa
4th Apr 2006, 20:51
A teacher trying to make his students THINK, instead of learning premashed "neutral" precepts................

Only fancy a German teacher in the 30's: how could he have been "neutral" in front of Aryanist supremacist law? How could have he shut his mouth when Jews were deported and massacred?

.................Hey..............THEY SHUT THEIR MOUTH!

Capt.KAOS
4th Apr 2006, 21:04
The Colorado teacher issue was a month ago. And after investigating, he was given his job back. What's wrong with that?In other words a non-event. Why an investigation, because of Rosen's incomplete quotation of the teacher?

Send Clowns
4th Apr 2006, 21:16
Ah, so the teacher should be free to spread irrational, lying political propoganda to impressionable children, eh Zed? If the comments are a true reflection then it is completely unprofessional.

airship
4th Apr 2006, 21:21
Y'know, the more I think about it, mebbe this GWB fella ain't so bad if you merely lose yer job as consequence. Compared to losing yer life (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/northern_ireland/4877516.stm) after you've crossed some other fellers...?! :uhoh:

Onan the Clumsy
4th Apr 2006, 21:21
One of the best ways of explaining such things as genocide or actions we find unbelieveable is to put them in a present day context that students can relate to.
On the contrary, explaining things from the past or from current day is best done out of a present day context.

This is one of the strengths of Science Fiction. A perfect (though extremely unsubtle) example might be Star Trek episode 3 in the second series where the Enterprise rescues two people like creatures from another planet with faces half black and half white. They eventuallyu regain conciousness and one is very scared and the other very angry, demanding the first person be removed immediately.

Of course the viewer soon realises that one creatures is black and white whereas the other is white and black. This allows racial differences to be discussed without bringing in, for want of a better word, baggage.

Send Clowns
4th Apr 2006, 21:27
Grandpa

He wasn't trying to make them think. He was telling them how to think, then asking them to think. He put a biased, untrue case.

airship
4th Apr 2006, 21:45
[sound effect]chik-quik-quik-uik[/sound effect]..."calling 1st delegate Onan, acting Scientific officer airship calling Onan...!" :) Of course the viewer soon realises that one creatures is black and white whereas the other is white and black. This allows racial differences to be discussed without bringing in, for want of a better word, baggage. I think I might have seen that episode back in the late '60s as a child. But we didn't have a colour TV set back then so I never saw the real significance... :{ I think you might appreciate the logical point I'm trying to make here. ;)

BTW, which particular episode was it according to this listing (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Star_Trek:_TOS_episodes#Season_2_.281967-1968.29)?! I couldn't locate the one you referred to. Scotty wasn't nay help neither... :(

con-pilot
4th Apr 2006, 21:46
This thread is a non-issue and the title is worse than misleading.

The teacher in question WAS NOT FIRED, okay, so why is the title of this thread?

Mock DUBYA and lose your job!


Then again, Grandpa, you been in Colorado lately?:p

Onan the Clumsy
4th Apr 2006, 22:10
airship It was Let That Be Your Last Battlefield, episode #70, the fifteenth episode of the third series, airing 10Jan1969, or to put it more precisely, StarDate 5730.2

Here's a pic:

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/7/7b/STLastBattle.jpg (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:STLastBattle.jpg)

...and here's the Wikipedia Link (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Let_That_Be_Your_Last_Battlefield)

Onan the Clumsy
4th Apr 2006, 22:11
Ah, so the teacher should be free to spread irrational, lying political propoganda to impressionable children, eh Zed? If the comments are a true reflection then it is completely unprofessional.I guess you haven't followed the school textbook debates in the state of Texas :ugh:


...or worse, Kansas :yuk:




And neither should teachers in religious schools be free to spread irrational, lying political propoganda to impressionable children

Send Clowns
4th Apr 2006, 22:40
I have (and can't work out why you assume I haven't), and agree entirely. I have argued such more than once.

airship
4th Apr 2006, 22:54
Bleedin 'eck Onan, they allowed youngsters like me to watch that stuff back then...no wonder I'm a little twisted now?!

Whatever, sometimes I'm glad I don't have any children, just pudicats, so I don't have to come to any decisions about who's teaching them what. Regular as clockwork, every evening, 2 pudicats who don't belong to me come round to my place for a bit of fish. They're not strays because one has a tattoo in one ear and the other smells of a woman's perfume when I rub my nose between his ears... :O I sometimes wonder about the human servant/s of these visiting pudicats. Don't they care that their loved ones might be frequenting dubious individuals? Or on the contrary, did they take a conscious decision that after all, life is full of uncertainty, and it was beyond their own power of determination to decide at what particular point something was enriching before it became otherwise...?! :8 :sad:

BenThere
5th Apr 2006, 03:58
Found a catchy reply to Mr. Bennish and the Michael Moore fringe:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o762HKxYMeA&eurl=

con-pilot
5th Apr 2006, 04:05
Loved it Ben, of course I can't wait to see what the usual suspects will have to say.:cool:

obgraham
5th Apr 2006, 04:45
obg - try reading the whole article. .....One wonders whether thoughtcrime will make it onto the statute books in the USA any time soon...?Well doubleX, I guess we shouldn't expect an objective view if all you read for your information is the Guardian.
The actual tape of the teacher's diatribe was widely played over here, and to be honest, I couldn't figure out what the big deal was -- he didn't really say anything offensive. Having investigated it, the school came to the same conclusion. As it should. Issue closed.
Now the left media wants to make something out of it. And it's pretty clear that the only place over here where there is restriction of free speech is on our major university campuses, if you happen to lean a bit rightward.

Grandpa
5th Apr 2006, 07:22
Teacher was right: that's the reason why he was back at work.

Yes otr No?

What do you think SD?

XXTSGR
5th Apr 2006, 09:59
obg - I think I made it quite clear on the first page of this thread, and my first post to this thread, that, while I do read it, I don't rely on the Guardian.

Capt Claret
5th Apr 2006, 11:06
Perhaps the teacher can find a little solace in the following link. :E

http://www.planetdan.net/pics/misc/georgie.htm

And if'e gets stuck, just help 'im along with your mouse!

BillHicksRules
5th Apr 2006, 11:37
SC,

Grandpa

He wasn't trying to make them think. He was telling them how to think, then asking them to think. He put a biased, untrue case.

That is your opinion and by expressing it in those terms your are attempting to do exactly that which you accuse Bennish of.

Why is it acceptable for you, yet unnacceptable for Bennish?

In my opinion Bennish did not tell the pupils what to think. He simply raised some issues in an attempt to get them to think outside the media prescribed box.

If you take the time to read the article you will see the following salient points:-

1) The teacher in question is a Social Studies teacher. This was not a Maths teacher having a rant totally unconnected to the subject at hand
2) The teacher was responding to questions posed by his pupils. They raised the issue with him not vice versa.

Cheers

BHR

barit1
5th Apr 2006, 14:01
Kids are not stupid, nor are their parents. Whether you agree with Bennish or not, I submit that Bennish and Michael Moore and MoveOn.org in their display of over-the-top idiocy were the straw that broke the camel's back in the Nov. 2004 elections.

And - these idiots don't realize they can accomplish the same result this year!

:rolleyes:

BillHicksRules
5th Apr 2006, 15:12
Barit,

What are you saying?

Cheers

BHR

BenThere
5th Apr 2006, 15:29
Not to pretend to speak for Barit, BHR, but he's saying that the high pitch anger of zealotry in politics with which some Democrats attacked Bush in 2004 cost them more votes than if they had made their appeals in a more reasonable manner. I'd like to know if the net end result of Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 911 was that it was an asset or liability for the Democratic Party.

Bennish, who is reported as a Geography teacher, not Social Studies, makes his zealotry clear in any 10 second segment of the tape his young student made, his mild disclaimers notwithstanding. The student, who appeared widely after the story emerged, specifically said he taped Bennish because of on-going political diatribes against the US. Perhaps if Geography teachers would emphasize Geography a bit more, the percentage of students who pass to adulthood not knowing the capital of their state would not be so appalling.

The benchmark for teachers' classroom discussions is that students should not be able to figure out which way the teacher would vote. We've lost that impartiality from grade school through the university and desperately need it back.

I could never even determine how my own father voted. If I ever asked, he'd say, "Who would you vote for? Why?" Wouldn't that be a better approach for teachers, particularly on divisive issues that seem so plentiful today?

barit1
5th Apr 2006, 16:20
BenThere's made my case re M. Moore, F911, etc. Thanks!

And regarding the academic freedom point, Dr. Walter Williams said it well in his column a few weeks ago: I've taught economics for 37 years. I encourage students to record my lectures. Moreover, I tell them that the class deals with positive economics and if they hear me make a statement appearing to be an opinion, without saying so, they are to raise their hands and say, "Professor Williams, we didn't take this class to be indoctrinated with your personal opinions passed off as economic theory; that's academic dishonesty." I also tell them that if I ever preface a comment with, "In my opinion," they can stop taking notes because my opinion is irrelevant to economic theory.

See entire column (http://www.gmu.edu/departments/economics/wew/articles/06/youth.html)

Capt.KAOS
5th Apr 2006, 16:26
And I always thought that Hitler analogies were quite popular amongst the haties on this forum...

The student, who appeared widely after the story emerged, specifically said he taped Bennish because of on-going political diatribes against the US.Seems Mr.Bennish is not the only one who isn't happy with the current US Administration... (http://www.foreignaffairs.org/20060501faessay85309/daniel-yankelovich/the-tipping-points.html)

BillHicksRules
5th Apr 2006, 16:29
BT,

"the high pitch anger of zealotry in politics with which some Democrats attacked Bush in 2004"

I take it this is tongue in cheek irony?

Cheers

BHR :) :) :)

BenThere
5th Apr 2006, 17:24
KAOS,

Your linked 'Foreign Affairs' article is a very informative, well-written and reasoned analysis, but I don't think the conclusion can be reduced to your broad conclusion. There are a lot of currents and trends in US public opinion, alluded to in the article, that merit detailed examination. If only I had the time, today, this would be an essay.

I sense growing support for isolationism in US foreign policy. You may think that is good or bad, I don't know. Americans are disillusioned with purported allies whose public majorities have clearly repudiated us. The BBC photograph of a young British female demonstrator with "F*ck USA" stenciled on her cheek was stinging. Given such responses, what is the point of our efforts?

I agree there is a growing desire for disengagement from Iraq, and the administration seems to be moving toward a lesser objective of attaining an Iraq controlled by its own security forces, and not a danger to the region or the US, regardless of its ideology, whereas the earlier vision of a democratic beacon and bulwark against Islamism and other tyranical states in the Middle East has receded. Americans would like to see that outcome, but not at the continuing cost in soldiers' lives when it appears there is no longer a military solution available. My read is that we don't want our army in the role of policeman in an intractable civil conflict.

Rather than ramble on, let me conclude by saying I think there are enormous threats to our way of life emanating from the Islamic Middle East and embedded among us with its formidable diaspora. Our pattern of divisive politics over issues that pale in the large picture threaten the continuing freedom of Western Europe. We are coming to tipping points, indeed!

BHR,

My use of the word, zealotry, was not intended to connote any religious meaning. Continue your crusade.

Cheers to all,

BillHicksRules
5th Apr 2006, 18:25
BenThere,

It was not the use of the word "zealotry" I was commenting on asmuch as the entire statement. I hoped you were being sarcastic but I guess not. This is shown the language of your most recent submission which is so very Orwellian. I am not sure which it represents most, Animal Farm or 1984. It has overtones of both.

Your MO in this last post is very similar to that regularly used by the current US administration when dealing with unpalatable issues. Strike at the messenger and hope that no one will notice the validity of the message. To give you (and the Bush Administration) due credit, it seems to have worked so far. It is also much easier than actually doing something about the problem at hand.

To paraphrase someone else's work, the current US administration does not care about anyone else's issues either foreign or domestic they simply want to show you someone to blame for it (other than them).

This too is a tactic that has been used successfully before over this side of the "pond". In fact just a few hundred miles south east of where I sit now.

One final point of order for you, I would suggest that it is bad form to chastise someone for giving their point of view openly and honestly as their point of view and then have you yourself speak for a whole country as if they all hold your opinion. If you have an opinion, have the courage to stand by it, alone. Do not try to "big it up" by claiming that it is shared by by an entire nation.

Cheers

BHR:) :) :)

BenThere
5th Apr 2006, 19:05
I'll stand by what I wrote, BHR. No intent to chastise anyone, so I apologize if offense was taken. It is simply my read on the matter.

I do find, however your statement:

To paraphrase someone else's work, the current US administration does not care about anyone else's issues either foreign or domestic they simply want to show you someone to blame for it (other than them).

to not have much basis in reality. Would you care to cite an example?

I regard Orwell as a clarion and prophet. Thanks for the positive comparison, though I am not worthy.

OneWorld22
5th Apr 2006, 23:09
We've lost that impartiality from grade school through the university and desperately need it back.

It was never there Ben. Teachers are humans not robots or perfect software programs. Teachers will always have opinions. The problem with people attacking the teacher over this is that there is the assumption that somehow kids are thick and easily lead by what their teachers say!!! :p

Have teenage kids suddenly changed after hundreds of years? they suddenly heed their teachers and hang on their every word? I don't think so!

A teacher expresses an opinion and suddenly it's dangerous because the class will suddenly start thinking and acting like Democrats? Get real folks.

Was there no US teacher who expressed support for the war in Iraq to his class? A war that has cost thousands of innocent lives? Is that worse then a teacher caricaturing the POTUS? (since when is it a sin to satirise???)

We had teacher when I was growing up who was shall we say a militant Vegetarian and a socilaist. He would show us pictures of how cows were killed for meat, discuss with us what meat does to you. (despite the fact that he was fat, bald and wore sandals....) Did we all become vegetarians overnight? Like f**k we did!

barit1
5th Apr 2006, 23:44
It's not that we expect teachers to be perfect, but only that they do a reasonable job teaching the subject matter. The more they stray into opinions, the less effort goes into subject proficiency.

And the more they stray into politics, the more they risk the wrath of the parents.

BTW - Maybe I missed it, but has there been any mention of how well Bennish's students perform on geography exams? If he were the outstanding geography teacher in the state, I might be more inclined to tolerate his politics...

Grandpa
6th Apr 2006, 07:11
....was precisely 'How do you make your opinion?"