class weird today. i played clips taken from a documentary (let's make money) and asked my students to explain or summarize what the people in the documentary said. the clips i showed them discussed how neoliberalism has influenced the international arena. a couple of students answered. instead of explaining what was said they explained their own theories about what was happening. i teach 4 sections. this happened in every section that i taught. i started off telling them that they were wrong but then i said that i was thankful for their contribution and that it was great that they were able to use outside material to advance the class discussion. many of them would posit arguments explaining why deregulation helped or hurt people. the clip explained why deregulation made it difficult for industries to protect their workers.) i told them they could give their opinions later but that we should try again.
the whole experience made me think that they did not know how to explain the documentaries main idea in a way that was charitable. mostly, because they kept trying to tell me what they thought about the clip. one guy tried to explain basic economic theories to me instead. another guy tried to discuss why the idea posited in the documentary was biased. it seemed like many of them were defensive. it was like they thought i was trying to indoctrinate them with my beliefs by showing the clips or asking them to explain the clips. but more than that, it was like they have not practiced being able to explain the main idea of texts and videos!!
my first reaction is that they were just unable to think outside of their ideology because of their social standing. i know! this may be a messed up thought to think. only because it is based on my own ideology. it is a reflexive feeling brought on by my experience in dealing with people's beliefs that oppose mine's. it could also be that they were so accustomed to me asking them for their opinion that they didn't think that i was asking them what the clips were actually about. and to be honest, I wondered if my students only responded to me the way they did because i am a black woman talking to them about issues with deregulating markets.
my fourth thought was that my students just aren't accustomed to giving what i was asking them to give. it is possible that it is very difficult for them to explain something that they don't believe in. this option makes a lot of sense to me only because I have had issues with this myself. during my undergraduate career, i spent a lot of time playing with ideas. i spent time critiquing ideas. i spent very little time making sure that I knew what the author meant. i spent little to no time constructing other's arguments in a honest and charitable way.
this has really hindered my growth in graduate school. when i first came to graduate school i did not know that i had this issue. when one of my professors critiqued my ability to reconstruct other academics arguments i it was a boring activity, it felt like pulling teeth, and i was offended because i thought they were belittling me by making me do something that i only did in middle school or elementary school. now i see the light. many undergraduate classes do not focus on making students find out the gist of what someone else has said. they tell you how to interpret the information. they give you space to critique it. however, they don't give many opportunities to allow people to interpret and summarize ideas that they don't agree with in a way that is honest and charitable. i have not had to do what has been asked of me in graduate school (which is to explain ideas that i am not emotionally invested in or to explain things i am not interested in in a long time.) i have had practice in explaining things that i don't agree with but that is only because i participated in debate in college. a lot of students don't have experience in doing this.
in hind sight, I could have done things differently. i could have explained that the opinions in the documentary were controversial and that i wanted them to break the ideas down and then explain it to them. when they gave their opinion i could have discussed that for a second instead of trying to get at what the clip was about. let me know what you think about this. i appreciate any and all advice that anyone can give me about this:)