As an educator, the following quotation from an interview with Jane Elliot in today’s New York Times struck a nerve. For those unfamiliar with Jane Elliot, she is an American diversity educator and developer of the controversial Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes experiment. For more information about her see her homepage, her Wikipedia article, or the PBS documentary A Class Divided.
Here is the quote (emphasis italics added by me):
Interviewer: For the past few decades, you’ve been doing anti-racism lectures and workshops around the country. Have you noticed a shift in how they have been received over the years?
Elliot: I’ve been doing the exercise with adults for about 35 years. But in the last few years, I’ve only been doing speeches about it because we now live in a situation where people turn off immediately if they think they’re going to learn something counter to their beliefs …
I concur. Last semester I taught a business ethics course and found myself carefully couching content. Especially when examining how consumer decisions affect the environment and working conditions, students immediately tune out if they feel their product purchasing choices are being even slightly questioned.
Any other educators out there with similar experiences?