Nathan Pulmer explains a similar account, but from a different perspective. In his blog post, Why a Student Yelled at Me & I Thanked Him for It, Pulmer describes a student who confronted him on one of the class topics. The student was so pleased to have found a piece of evidence that proved his professor wrong, yet he was the one who ended up being incorrect (as it reveals latter in the story). Why was the student so pleased at the chance to prove his professor wrong?
From a young child through to when you graduate, high school or college, you go to school and learn from various teachers. Your only job is to learn, and in a traditional system, all knowledge comes from your teachers. If you listen to your teachers, you get a gold star. But if you do something the teacher doesn't like, you get a star taken away. Now these stars have no actual value, but we are taught their value by our teachers and our peers. This is the start of a long process embedded within the education system: socialization.
Teachers are smarter than us - according to the education system that is. It is not uncommon to blindly read the textbook or listen to the teacher and think there words and ideas are novel. The interesting observation always missed, though, is when we start asking "why". Why is the teacher right?
Putting the Pieces Together
Pulmer analyzes disproportionate relationships within his post. He specifically hits on how when you look at one group a certain conclusion can be made, but if you look at it in proportional to a larger whole, your conclusion is more accurate. While this is an important topic, it was not as interesting to me as the other sociological ideas bubbling within his post. Why did the student challenge him? Why did the student challenge him after class instead of in front of everyone? How does a calm demeanor affect the conversation in respect to a defensive demeanor?
Earlier in this post I hid a bit on the topic of asking "why". I merely pointed out that it is common, and I challenge you to take it further. What has led us to ask why? Is it to rebel against the system? Does it have a purpose?
I liked Pulmer's approach to sociology. He starts with a story and then brings light to different points as they come up. Then at the end he wraps it all up and leaves the reader with a few questions. It's a nice approach to use, but as you may have noticed reading this post, my brain has trouble working on only one train of thought.
Tying all the ideas together, the education system teaches students to believe their professors and teachers. Whether it is taught or not, though, I think many students eventually start to ask why in response to many concepts taught. This is step one to being a sociologist, and from what I have learned over the years, it helps you understand the topics even better. As you can see from Pulmer's post, both the student and the teacher benefited from the encounter. The teacher learned more about how the class viewed the topic and the student understood there was more to evidence than what just meets the eye.
Food for Thought
- How is creativity affected by the modern American school system?
- Why do we ask "why"? Does it have a social purpose?
- How often do you go in-depth when listening to others? How often do you hear one side or the other and blindly believe them?