Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Teaching and Politics and Step Shows
Often times when I'm teaching I'm not sure how appropriate it is to incorporate my own political views. I think the answer is "Not appropriate at all." Most people in academia lean to the left, but I remember hearing students once in Texas complaining about a teacher who said something bad about George Bush. I would have a hard time these days sitting through a lecture that was 180 degrees opposite of my views. In my lectures at times I bring up both Democratic and Republican presidents as analogies. In my field of expertise it is at times very difficult to remain neutral when talking about the modern day Israel/Palestinian conflict, especially because so many of the arguments on both sides are biblically based. My students curious to know what it was like to live there. Actually, most of my students have no idea about current politics. Most probably couldn't describe Sharron or Arafat. This idea of Americans ignorant about world politics is sad but true. I guess in the end my students are pretty clear about my political views by the end of the semester. I should put more effort into being neutral. I tried to learn about African American culture last weekend by attending my first step show. I didn't enjoy too much about it. First, I waited in line for nearly two hours. Xavier students don't wait in line, they show up at the end, find someone they know at the front of the line, and move in. Then inside, I really didn't get the whole concept. Seemed the goal was to stomp and clap as fast as possible. It reminded me of River Dance, which I find embarassing for white people. Anyway, I tried to find out on the web about step dancing, and many said it went back to African roots. But nobody in Africa dances like that. At one point the step dancers took wooden candy canes and banged them around on the stage. Big deal . . . ANyway, I've been to the step show and made the effort to understand Xavier culture. I just need someone to explain why step dancing is so intersting. If you know the answer to the riddle that has proven so illusive to me, please email me at mhoman@xula.edu. Thanks

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