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I teach these topics because I believe that students should be informed of them and, more importantly, be inspired by them.
I always end the semester with animal ethics because, as several of you put it very elegantly in class, unlike other oppressed groups, non-humans do not have a voice. In my personal life, I do my best to be a voice of the voiceless. I do not consume animal products, I speak out against animal cruelty, and I attend demonstrations against industries and practices that I believe to be immoral. But that is my moral obligation. I arrived at it after many sleepless nights, private failures, and moral hypocrisies, and through overcoming a great many personal challenges.
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I have told you many times over the semester that I choose course material based on how provocative I believe it to be for you. That is the purpose of education—to provoke. In my estimation, educators should play the gadfly whenever possible, because if they do not, they may ultimately end up accomplishing nothing more than a positive reinforcement of the attitudes, values, and norms held by the majority.
We have had a great many discussions this semester on the danger inherent in conservative pedagogy of that sort, but what of that supposed professorial responsibility that I mentioned above? That responsibility—even when politically motivated—is frequently squandered on useless and futile abstractions.
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As once a college student myself, my experience has been that much of what one learns in college fits that description like a tight glove. People falling in line; living inactively; refusing to question themselves, their actions, the values they have been given, the rules they follow, the people in charge. I would be a poor philosopher if I failed to challenge your fundamental attitudes, frustrate you, and pique your emotions—irrespective of whatever my personal beliefs happen to be.
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In this context, my own beliefs are completely irrelevant. Consider that it is impossible to be perfectly objective and play the gadfly at the same time. I try my best to strike the appropriate balance, though.
What happens in your brain when you lose your train of thought? | World Economic Forum
I occasionally lose sleep over how best to accomplish that task. There were certainly moments like that for me this semester.
This is precisely why colleges are among the most important institutions in society. Zinn and Martin Luther King Jr. That is a harsh, cruel, and offensive reality. Kids in the gifted program are disproportionately white and affluent.
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