Incorporating Controversial Social Issues Into Your Teaching To Challenge, Engage & Inform
Getting freshmen excited about their general education studies can sometimes be a daunting task. What better way to spark their interests than by showing them that their life experiences are a vehicle that can effect “real” change on contemporary issues that affect them? Most students enjoy talking and writing about their lives, but many instructors do not see the relevance of incorporating contemporary issues such as stereotypes and prejudices, social media, and reality television into the classroom and teaching students that their real life experiences with these issues can be channeled into public discourse (Danielewicz 421). As Nancy Welch asserts in Living Room: Teaching Public Writing in a Privatized World, “Though we can’t call a strike or launch a social movement from a classroom, we can teach and learn the attitudes, relationships, and practices that are preconditions for imaging oneself and others as participants in social policy making and agents of social change” (15).
The presenter, a community college professor of composition, will share a sample unit, which includes classroom activities, essay prompts, and student work samples, to illustrate how he incorporates the social protest framework into his general education curriculum. He will also demonstrate how participants might use the social protest framework to get their students excited about studying contemporary, controversial topics in their general education studies.
- Define the social protest framework
- Discover how social protest helps students establish a purpose for learning
- Explore practical strategies for incorporating the social protest framework into their general education curriculum
- Explore a sample unit that demonstrates how social protest can be easily integrated into their general education curriculum
- 2-year & 4-year institutions
- Academic Affairs/Instruction
- Faculty (full and part-time)
- Dean of Instruction
- Department Chairs
- Student Life
- Anyone interested in incorporating contemporary social issues into teaching & curriculum
“Typically, freshman students are not interested in their general education studies beyond completing assignments for grades. If we desire to gain and keep students’ interest in learning, we must offer them a real reason for learning. The social protest framework offers students an opportunity to effect real change in the world around them.”
Osen Bowser Jr. is Assistant Professor of English at The Community College of Baltimore County, where he teaches composition (both developmental and credit), African American Literature, and American Literature in both face-to-face and online formats. Currently in his 12th year of teaching, Osen has trained and mentored both adjunct and full-time faculty on integrated reading and writing accelerated models. He has presented at local, regional, and national conferences on integrated reading and writing, most recently the National Council of Teachers of English Annual Convention and the Conference on Acceleration in Developmental Education, and he also represented North Carolina on the Educational Testing Service’s PRAXIS National Advisory Council for English, Language, Literature, and Composition. He earned a Master’s in English and African American Literature from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University and will receive a Master’s in Instructional Systems Development from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County this fall.
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