teaching tip #2: classroom demonstrations can add excitement to any lecture!

VIEWER DISCRETION ON THIS POST IS ADVISED.  DON’T READ THIS IF YOU ARE EASILY OFFENDED.  THERE’S REALLY NOTHING MUCH TO READ IN THIS, CERTAINLY NOTHING TITILLATING.  IF YOU ARE UNDER 18, YOU SHOULD BE DOING HOMEWORK.  IF YOU ARE OVER 18, YOU SHOULD BE DOING SOMETHING MORE CONSTRUCTIVE WITH YOUR LIFE.

OK, YOU WERE APPROPRIATELY WARNED!

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-met-nu-prof-apology-20110305,0,6838703.story?obref=obnetwork

The biggest piece of education news this past week occurred literally right down the street from me … a Northwestern University psychology professor whose work (and the classes he teachers) focuses on gender identity and sexuality decided that a discussion on fetishism should end with an appropriate happy ending (of sorts).

(Yesterday I was actually at Northwestern for a middle school scholastic bowl tournament.  We used an auditorium as a meeting pace for 300 some odd middle school students.  Many coaches invariably asked the tournament director if this was the auditorium.  He responded to at least one coach that this was not, “because the auditorium for live sex demonstrations was on the other side of campus.”)

This sparked some lunchtime discussion with my colleagues earlier in the week.  One is a mother whose daughter recently graduated from NU, and was furious (the “they’ll never get another dime from me” speech).  I (in an attempt at humor) tried to calm her by saying that we as educators should support progressive education.  She came back at me by asking what the justification could be.  So, I tried:

I had recently been in a conversation with an English teacher at our school at a literacy workshop.  One of the books they are reading with the freshmen happens to have some plot point about masturbation.  He actually had one of his students quietly approach him and ask what that meant.

I highly doubt that there are any college students unfamiliar with virtually any aspect of human sexuality, but I suppose there might be a minority out there who are training in the field of health, psychology, counseling, etc. to wit seeing something like this might give them some level of new insight into the fetishism that some future client might have issues with.

My upset colleague didn’t buy it.  Heck, even I knew I was reaching a bit.

Even in the interview for the news article above, the professor, (probably correctly), asserts that there have been no really serious reasons given as to why what he did was so terrible.  True, I don’t think anything like this will scar any of the viewers for life.

However … I’m also not seeing his justification.  I could do physics demonstrations where I take cats and fire them out of a potato launcher from the top of a four story building to demonstrate projectile motion … but this would be difficult to justify (other than there being fewer cats in the world).

As an educator, especially one with a scientific background, I would like to hear the justification for this.  I do so with an open mind, and would be willing to except any legit reason …

… if it exists.

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