Education establishment types frequently accuse traditionalists of overkill when they claim that higher education really seeks to indoctrinate even when its denizens pretty much admit that is what they do. “As much as we talk politics with our students, read political novels, and highlight the activism of the past, the walls of the classroom present a problem for radical teachers,” Nicholas Hegen Fox writes in the latest issue of Radical Teacher. “Our meetings host passionate discussions where students begin to tackle assumptions, dismantle ideas of privilege, even critique capitalism.”
“But when class ends, what happens to the political fervor? Where does that revolutionary spark go? Does it spread out into the streets? Or does it end up at the bottom of backpacks, forgotten like last week’s homework? Increasingly, I have begun to believe it is the latter; and I have been frustrated by the lack of connection between the political sentiments generated by classroom discussion and political action.”
Hegen Fox teaches literature and writing at Portland Community College. He formerly taught at the University of Minnesota and Macalaster College.
Radical Teacher is “a socialist, feminist, and anti-racist journal dedicated to the theory and practice of teaching.” It is published triannually by the University of Illinois.
Hegen Fox has used Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle for a text, praising it for “its searing reportage” even though it is a work of fiction. His students gave the book mixed reviews: Half love it, the others loathe it.
“Among the former usually are the students who identify as progressive or leftist—and the vegetarians in the class,” he explains. “Detractors tend to be more politically conservative or aesthetically elitist.”
Malcolm A. Kline is the Executive Director of Accuracy in Academia.
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