Sunday, March 12, 2006

Jay Bennish the Stimulator?

In the Sunday Mar.12 Metro section of the Detroit News is an article by News writer Joe Menard titled "Will Bush flap influence teachers?" It's about the Jay Bennish incident in Colorado and is newsworthy because Mr. Bennish is from Beverly Hills Michigan. It starts:

"Jay Bennish's return to the classroom Monday ends his weeks-long saga over comments he made comparing President Bush to Adolf Hilter, but some educators say the controversy may have a lasting effect on teachers who like to push the envelope to stimulate their students."

I read a transcript of Mr. Bennish's lecture and the only thing it seems being stimulated is their emotions not their thought processes.

The third paragraph begins with:
"Some educators fear the incident could lead to other students complaining about outspoken teachers."
So giving a political lecture in a geography class is not being innappropriate but rather is being "outspoken." In other words a chemistry teacher can give a lecture on what makes a good teacher by comparing Mr. Bennish to say Joseph Goebbels and the school would be ok with that because he's just being "outspoken."

The paragraph continues; "They also believe it may discourage teachers from challenging their students with alternative viewpoints on controversial issues to teach them to think for themselves."

So Mr. Bennish's notion that Bush is like Hitler is a viewpoint that is an alternative to what? The view points of other teachers who don't think Bush is like Hitler? The viewpoint of students who may think that comparing Bush to Hitler is just a little extreme but really isn't therefore they're not thinking for themselves?

Notice the inversion here. It is implied that the students' perception that the Bush=Hitler comparison is unfair or irrational, is an established view while the teacher is only presenting an alternative viewpoint thus stimulating them to think for themselves. The above linguistics project an image of dogmatic student ideas being challenged by dissenting and "stimulating" teachers.

The next paragraph supports this inversion:

"'It's scary. If that mentality (discourage teachers from challenging their students with alternative viewpoints) seeps into our schools, we're doomed,' said Margaret Trimer-Hartley, spokeswoman for the Michigan Education Association, the state's largest teachers union.
'We're destined to squelch the debate that makes us a strong society.'"

So, when a student like Sean Allen challenges an obvious political rant he is "squelching the debate." When a teacher spits in America's face he is making us "a strong society."

Evidently Mr. Bennish was given a talking to:

"He (Superintendent Monte Moses) did say that Bennish's 'practice and deportment need growth and refinement' and that officials had made recommendations for Bennish in the report." If that isn't sugar coating.... Instead of calling Bush Hitler, can't Bennish use Moses's line and just say that Bush's "practice and comportment need growth and refinement?" Somehow it just doesn't deliver the same emotional message now does it? The proper level of hatred just isn't there.

As for teaching students to think for themselves; when a teacher admits that he cannot tell the difference between the iniatory use of force as used by Hitler to agressively kill millions, and the retaliatory use of force as used by Bush to respond to 9/11, he reveals a total inability to think for himself and cannot possibly pass along to his students a skill he does not possess.

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