Friday, July 24, 2009

Stupid Is As Stupid Does: Parsing Words and Protecting Feelings: Student Edition

While Obama was getting in trouble for saying the Cambridge Police "acted stupidly", I was dealing first-hand with stupid and learning just how difficult it is to correct stupid.

I have been helping to develop and facilitate workshops that help prepare dual-credit students for their enrollment in classes in the Fall. We have been experimenting with 3 day workshops which attempt to cover a range of suggested techniques in note-taking, reading comprehension, study tips, time management, plagiarism issues, etc., etc., etc. As the facilitator, I have been spending 4-6 hours a day with a group of 16 High School students. OMG. Kill me now.

Someone...anyone, tell me how to your respond to a student who says "I hate to read"?

How about this one. A critical thinking exercise which has them generate arguments in support of and in opposition to a proposition: Nurses should be paid more than lawyers. Student argument: "Lawyers should make less because they are slimy and are liars. They even represent criminals who they know are guilty and try to get them off." Now, try to fix that one up without making some sort of corrective statement. No other student offered an objection. Guess who had to fill the long awkward pause. I didn't use the "stupid" word but I did fumble in the search for the perfect corrective phrase. And, of course, in response, the student had that shut-down attitude going for them. "Well, that is my opinion and I am entitled to it."

I am really sympathizing with the President's words usage. Sometimes, the need to label actions and thoughts as stupid is just too much to resist. And it was: stupid.


larry c wilson said...

Ah, democracy at work.

Pamthropologist said...

I was under the naive assumption that democracy works best with an educated population. Stop laughing.

larry c wilson said...

The problem is that democracy also says that every one is equal and entitled to their opinion.

You are more Jeffersonian than Jacksonian.