We sort of broached the topic in class, about how we should attempt to address current events in the world. We can flat out ignore them, try to relate them to class, or maybe just have a full on discussion about them. It gets me to wondering what type of interaction I want to have with students. What level of involvement do I want to have with them about things not related to class? I do believe that it is important to important to at very least, acknowledge current events in class. There are some things that are too important to be ignored. If events could be easily related to topics in the course, then all the better. However, what if there was a semi-logical and semi-valid reason for ignoring current events in the classroom? I’ve got some logic that might fit the bill.
As an instructor, you get a set amount of time, about 3 hours, each week for class. That is 3 hours each week over 15 weeks to try and guide students through various topics and ideas. That is a time when you get to have the majority of their attention. Why would you want to shift their attention to something else? One argument against ignoring current events could be that the student experience is everything that happens in and out of the classroom, so we, as academics, need to better address their experiences outside the classroom. Undoubtedly, outside issues will be on the minds of the students from time to time. Would engaging these issue bring their focus back to the topic of class or keep them off topic for class? What if by keeping it to the topics at hand, we can provide an escape from the outside topics that are on their minds. If the student showed up to class, there must be a little part of them that has some interest in learning about the topic. So why not try grow that instead?
I realize that the example is for only one class, but even when taking four class, that is a total of 12 hours a week devoted to class time. That is 12 hours a week when we can focus students on something else aside from is happening in the world. Please don’t read that as being trying to get them to ignore the world, but rather take a break from it. Personally, I find data analysis provides me with the break from the world I need. I realize that the world still exists and is on fire, but right now all I care about is making R work. I guess it all comes down to personal choice of the instructor, but there might be a good reason for sticking one’s head in the sand.