Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Clarification on the Iraq and 9/11 comments

Since I've been linked to by Andrew Sullivan, Crooked Timber and the Washington Monthly, I should be precise in describing what my students wrote. Two students clearly said the attacks of 9/11 were the work of Iraq. The third merely said that we should forgive Iraq for "all the terrorism that has happened." I asked the third student to clarify for his final draft what terrorism he thought Iraq was behind, but the student left that paragraph as it was originally written.

Here is a quote from one of the two students who did say Iraq was behind 9/11.
[Redacted]
The writing is not entirely clear. I don't know what is up with "[redacted]." But it is clear that she believes we are at war in retaliation for 9/11.

The remaining student was writing a dialogue on the problem of evil. I've returned that paper and don't have an electronic copy of it, so I'm not going to get her phrasing right. Basically, though, one character puts forward the Leibnizian argument that all is for the best. Another character then says "even the attacks on the twin towers" and the first character, in a peculiar mix of relativism and panglossianism says that the attacks were good from the perspective of "the Iraq's"

6 comments:

thibaud said...

So what does this say about these kids' teacher?

Perhaps the kids would do better if Teach wasn't wasting so much time bloviating online

Anonymous said...

It says that he thinks, Sir. You might want to actually look at his CV. Actually, perhaps these kids would have done better if their entire school career hadn't been spent studying for the NY State Regents exam, and they had been encouraged to critically evaluate anything.

Rob Helpy-Chalk said...

My CV is out of date--I am no longer in New York State. I'm at a community college in Ohio. Very different student body.

Evelyn Brister said...

Way to go, Rob!

I'm wondering, do you think that the more elite student body at St.L. would be free of this misconception?

My institution is selective but politically conservative. Their SAT scores are apparently outstanding. But last spring quarter I assigned a group of 6 students in Critical Thinking to research and present a range of arguments connected with the U.S. occupation of Iraq, and wouldn't you know it, the presentation was centered on images of the World Trade Towers. The "range" they picked went from how we attacked Iraq out of (legitimate) revenge for terrorism to our discovery of WMD's.

Some other members of the class exploded, so the students weren't all ignorant. But the group's response was "We disagree because you just have a different opinion."

Granted, freshmen students are not yet cognitively mature, and older students might know better (and know more). But surely Andrew Sullivan and others can't be *too* surprised that these beliefs are widespread. And, as you point out,they're defining of a contemporary nationalistic worldview.

Rob Helpy-Chalk said...

The SLU student body would not have made this mistake. A large number of students might have made remarks of the sort xoxi said in the thread to the last post, but that is about it.

Matthew said...

I was thinking about this lat night, and I guess my question is whether it is ethical to post quotations from student work online and anonymously. I see why it is done by yourself and others, but what of the legal implications? On the one hand, sharing student work with a name and with criticism could be considered harassment by some, but then again doing so without attribution could be considered copyright infringement (and not under fair use).

That is, of course, if you didn't receive permission to reprint the quotation. If you did, then my question is moot.

Just curious.

(o, and this 9/11=Iraq thing hurts my brain as well).