They Weren’t Alive Then

I just had one of those  moments in my Studies in Composition course.

One of my students wrote in response to another student’s post on Ronald Strickland’s “Confrontational Pedagogy” (wonderful article to have students in composition theory read):

“You brought up some very interesting points. I would love to discuss this kind of topic out-loud between people because understanding Strickland’s views on ‘Individuality’ and ‘Confrontation’ really need some informal discussion, as well as formal. I think that Strickland is really just trying to point out how sacred ‘Individuality’ is in our learning and how it is really just an ideology from our culture and that it enforces roles on teachers, students, authors, and audiences that can inhibit learning because of the restrictive point of view – if you assume that your work and your understanding are all inherently individual you are also taking for granted a host of other concepts and social/intellectual norms that can, and often should, be questioned and rethought because of the interesting paths that line of thinking will lead too and the new concepts that can be discovered. I also was resistant at first, but in the same way that a patriarchal society is resistant to feminism, or capitalism is to communist ideals.” 

As you might imagine, M’s comment on K’s comment led to some interesting whole class discussions, which more or less began with my announcing that the Marlboro Man recently died. 

I saw their blank stares.

Me: You know who the Marlboro Man was, don’t you?

Blank stares, shaking heads (another of those stupid teacher comments, they’re thinking).

It got worse.

When we got to the “patriarchal society is resistant to feminism” comment, I said something about the degree to which we have lived in a patriarchal society (getting in a plug for Hillary Clinton–noting that we have not yet had a woman president).

Me: Just ask your parents. If you think we’re patriarchal now, ask your parents about what it was like in the sixties. 

The blank stares again. I’m getting used them.

Me: What? What?

Kayla (I think), snickering (i think): They weren’t alive then.

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