Resistant Student

I need help. I have a student that will vocally resist the feminist Cracked articles I want to discuss in class for textual analysis next week. Lately he has been fist-bumping his friends when he attempts to undermine my introductions to class activities. This week we were trying to see what economic class analysis can bring to textual analysis–he was very vocal, I was flustered and incoherent (resulting from over-correcting my punk tendency to shut him down)–needless to say, I don’t want that to happen again.

But, I also don’t know what to do. I don’t want to dump the unit because I think it is important and I worked hard planning it, and I don’t want to alienate the student or allow him to shut down others that might have something to add to the discussion. And I really don’t want to argue against him as though I am the only voice for equal-rights in the universe–I don’t want that responsibility. And to be honest I don’t feel like my passion for this political angle in rhetoric and composition does me in favors in the classroom. It helps my research, but I think it hinders me in the classroom because I know how to respond to attempts to undermine political theory, but then the ‘class’ becomes two dudes debating (very problematic when discussing feminism), and everyone else shuts down.

His favorite thing to do is call anything he disagrees with bias. I have tried to make students think more carefully about what they mean by that word because most just mean “thesis” when they say “bias.” It is not working with him. How do I get him to see that feminism is a response to systemic bias and not merely the favoring of women over men or an attempt to bash men or make him feel bad for being a man? More importantly, how do I turn his attempt to undermine the theory into a proper class discussion that everyone can participate in?

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Resistant Student

  1. Bill Wallace

    In my opinion you will not reach him. You can’t persuade anyone who doesn’t want to be persuaded. Let it go. You led him to water and that’s all you can reasonably do.

    By the same token, I wouldn’t let him “control” your plans for the class. It’s your class and not his for very good reasons. Shut him down, assure him you would be happy to visit after class if he wants, but let him (and his buds) know that you won’t let them disrupt class progress. (It sounds to me as though he might be making a game of it.)

    You might also remind him that, while he’s free to reject the ideas you’re presenting, he’s still responsible for understanding the material. (That’s what I tell them in Comm Theory.)

    Frustrating to have someone like this in a class. Hang in there.

  2. I know it’s not what you want to hear, but Mr. Wallace, above, is right. Don’t sacrifice the group for one student. Unreasoned resistance is recalcitrant. The fist-bumping tells me that this is resistance for its own sake. Shut him down. If he won’t be shut down, invite him to leave the class (at least for the meeting in question). Doing so is not a failure. Allowing him to dictate the plan and tone of the class is far more problematic than defining the limit of his behavior.

    You (and to one extent or another your institution) determine the content/focus of the course. Your responsibility is to give students a learning opportunity regarding that content/focus. The students’ responsibility is to come to that content/focus with an open mind an use the opportunity to learn. He has chosen to shirk his responsibility.

    My two cents, anyway. 🙂 (This is Susan Fanetti, btw.)

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