Sunday, April 6, 2003

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Advantage: Kleiman!

In my previous post on Nicholas De Genova I was trying to articulate a point on how teachers must balance the task of asserting authority on issues relevant to the classroom material while encouraging students to air their opinions free of perceived retribution. From the e-mail I've received, I fear I may not have succeeded.

Mark Kleiman, in discussing whether a university faculty should express its opolitical views with a collective voice, phrases it better than I did:

Academics spend a significant amount of time judging people: their students, and one another. They need, therefore, to bend over backwards to make it clear that those judgments are based as exclusively as human frailty will allow on scholarly, academic, professional standards of skill at research and discourse, and not on the agreement or disagreement of the people doing the judging with the opinions of the people being judged.

(Teaching, as I do, highly controversial subjects, I have a little canned speech I make the first day of class. In that speech, I claim an authoritative voice, speaking for the discipline, in resolving claims about what sorts of arguments for policy opinions count as good policy analysis, but make it clear that my actual opinions are merely that, and that it is not among my purposes as a teacher to make the students' opinions conform to mine...).


posted by Dan on 04.06.03 at 03:34 PM