Tuesday, January 13, 2004


Teaching MoveOn.org Propaganda in Class

A friend of mine from my M.A. days, who is working on her Ph.D. at an institution that will remain nameless, forwarded me an email from her composition teachers' listserv in which one of the MFA candidates tells her fellow instructors that she has placed the film "Uncovered: The Whole Truth About the Iraq War," produced by MoveOn.org, on reserve so that teachers in the program can show it in class. She also directs her fellow instructors to the website truthuncovered.com.

This person is supposed to be teaching composition, and, in the program in which both she and my informant teach, she is supposed to be teaching argumentation and critical thinking. Instead, she is presenting students with MoveOn's propaganda as if it were an unbiased source of information, presumably to counter the "bias" of the mainstream media.

I am told this is common practice in this university's composition program, and that both MoveOn and Michael Moore are regularly used as unbiased sources of information in courses, showing up with frightening regularity on instructor syllabus.

My informant feels that she cannot raise an objection to this issue, because instructors in her program were essentially given permission to do this by the composition director during their pre-academic year meeting, when ways of approaching the Iraq War that were obviously designed to teach against the Iraq War were discussed with them. Also, since the contracts of grad student teachers at her institution are renewed on a year-to-year basis, she fears losing her job, and thus her ability to continue her degree.

This is a sad state of affairs. Critical thinking skills are, to my mind, the most important skill we can help students to develop in their four years with us. This person, and apparently, the bulk of the program in which she teaches, has abandoned the teaching of critical thinking skills in order to indoctrinate. We can only hope that students, realizing that they are the focus of an attempt to brainwash, develop critical thinking skills on their own as the result of said attempt.

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