Tles statements could be more usfully framed as questions crappling with ideas

Tles statements could be more usfully framed as

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Tles€ statements could be more us€fully framed as questions. 'crappling with' ideas meafls to receive, reflect upon, practice artictrlating, and seek deeper understanding. crappline is not debnte or rc)ection. The goal is to move us beyond the mere sharing ofopinions and toward more informed engagement. Principle 2: Everyone has arl opinion. Opinions are not the same a5 informed knowtedge. Opinion is the weakest form of academic engagenrcnt. When our conprehensir)n and criticat thinkiDg irc timited, exprc\siD,l oLrr opinion is the easiest response. Opinion doesD't rcquirc us to uDdcrstand the js sues or engage with the course readings. All ofus hold ofiniors bctbre rve €nter a course. Expressing these opinions simply r€hearscs what we rlready think and doesnt reqlrire us to expand, question, or go bencrlh our ideas. Students often share their opinions as a cover for not undcrslanding-cxprcssing our opin- ions allows us to Iill discussion space without hrving engaged wilh the course material. If we arent interested in reading what we've been assigned, or dont understand what weve read, the easiest thing to do is to point to a passage in the rext and give a personal response to it (e.g., "l loved it when the aurhor s.tid that men dominate because it rerninded me ofan experien.e I had . . l'), or rse it to reject the reading out ofhand (e.9., "fte author said White people have privi lege. I totally disagree with thatl"). When students argue from personal opinion with regard to the concepts studied, for exatnple, claiming, "Racism doesnt exist aryrnore," they are in etrect expressing aD opiniofl that is not supported by schol arly evidence. We would not use opinion in astronomy class and find it highly unlikely that a student arguing that s/he disagrees with Stephen HawkiDg on a matter ofastronomy would have her o. his position taken seriously, much less feelfree to make such a claim tobegin with. Yet in ourexperience, scholars such as Peggy Mclntosh, Michel Foucault, Edryard Said, and Bev Tatum are regularly 'disagreed with" well before comprehension oftheir work is mastered. Most stu dents who disagree with thes€ scholars could not adequately articulate the very ideas theyclaim to disagree with. However, curtailing th€ sharing of opinions in class is often perceived by stud€nts as breaking a social rule': I have the righ. to my opinion and denying that right is unfair:' Of cours€ we have a right to our opinions. But our academic goals are not to simply share our pre-existing opinions. Our goals are to engage with scholarly evidence and develop the theoreticrl tools with which to gain a more complex understanding ofsocial ph€nomena. Yet,let us be clear-we do wdnt \tud(nr. ro rclecr on and exantne then optnion'r open'ng one\ opinron. to examination is nol the same as simply sharing them.
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  • Spring '17
  • TomMcCollow

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