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Teaching Heterodoxy: ESL and Viewpoint Diversity

This is the second post in our Teaching Heterodoxy series.

By Dr. Cory Holland, Worcester State University

The following activity occurred in the context of an English as a Second Language (ESL) writing class for international students hoping to matriculate in US universities. This particular class was evenly split between students from China and students from Saudi Arabia, a detail that will become important shortly. Students in this class are at a high-intermediate level of English proficiency and are learning to write short essays in genres common to introductory university classes.

Teaching Heterodoxy: Syllabus Language to Support Viewpoint Diversity

There’s broad agreement that the syllabus is a contract of sorts that spells out expectations, policies, and pathways through the inquiry at hand.  Equally important, I ask my syllabus to set the tone for the entire course. I pick my words carefully, hoping to signal my and my students’ reciprocal roles in the processes of teaching and learning. As students and faculty alike navigate ideological polarization, tribalism, and hostility, it feels especially important to get this tone-setting document right.