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controversial topics

Don’t Avoid Controversial Topics. Use Them!

Like many faculty members, there are times in class when I joyfully watch students actively engage in constructive disagreement. Unfortunately, they do not happen enough. Too many students avoid openly challenging their peers on controversial topics. The old adage, “go along to get along” rules their classroom interactions. This inclination towards avoidance often infects my..

foxes hedgehogs

Prepare Students to Be Foxes, Not Hedgehogs

In his oft-quoted 1953 essay, Isaiah Berlin draws upon a reference to the Greek philosopher Archilochus, translated as: a fox knows many things, but a hedgehog one big thing. Although the original essay was primarily focused on Tolstoy (who Berlin classified as a tortured combination of fox and hedgehog), it’s been used in several other..

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.

syllabus cup

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.

rigorous inclusion

Rigorous Intentional Inclusion

“What would you say if I told you I own a gun?” This is how I began a lecture called “The Soap Operas of Sociology” for my Introduction to Sociology course. After a brief pause, I was met with a variety of responses.  Some students say, “Good for you!” Others look in disbelief. Then, I..

bts video

Back to School Video Playlist

Are you about to start college? Or will you be applying to college this winter? Do you want to get the most out of your college experience and emerge smarter, emotionally stronger, and more self-sufficient when you graduate? Then be sure to watch these three videos. Many universities contain subcultures that will make you less..