Posts Tagged ‘Teaching the Election’

Horizontal divider

What a Difference a Word Makes

posted: 10.26.12 by Donna Winchell

My son recently reviewed End of Watch for his college newspaper. In it he observed that in the hard-hitting crime drama, the LA police partners who are the focus of the movie must face a Mexican drug cartel led by Big Evil, “who uses the f-word literally every third word.” His editors–okay, they are both women–revised it to have the cartel led by Big Evil, “who is defined by his obscene potty mouth.” My son was horrified to have his readers think he would ever use the term “potty mouth.”

Word choice can be even more critical in political arguments. Witness the second presidential debate, where the exact words chosen by the candidates inspired almost as much controversy as the gist of what they were saying. Romney’s points about women and jobs may have been objectionable in and of themselves, but his phrase “binders of women” is what became the laughingstock of Facebook and Twitter. Lots of other points that Romney made during the debate were lost in the brouhaha over his word choice.

[read more]

Comments Off on What a Difference a Word Makes
Categories: Donna Winchell
Read All Donna Winchell

Horizontal divider

When is an interruption not an interruption?

posted: 10.25.12 by Andrea Lunsford

Like millions of others, I’ve been watching the presidential debates (and the vice presidential debate) with fascination bordering on obsession.  For a rhetorician and teacher of writing, there’s not much more exciting than this every-four-year spectacle, much of it surrounded by a cacophony of political ads, cartoons, and media commentary.  So I watch intently and purposefully, taping the debates so I can play them over again.  (I’ve also tried listening to them on the radio versus watching them, which is also very instructive.)

The first debate this year, the one in which many viewers felt like President Obama didn’t show up, was particularly interesting for the way both candidates used body language and tried to interact with the audience not just in the hall but via cameras.  While President Obama looked down a lot and seemed to be mulling over points, Governor Romney strode about, “owning” the space much of the time, and even occasionally interrupting.  I noticed the interrupting behavior but didn’t make much of it, except to think that it made Romney seem overly aggressive for my taste.  Then came the vice presidential debate, which featured Joe Biden interrupting Paul Ryan and even talking over him—which seemed to invite Ryan to give the same back to Biden.  So I started watching for interruptions in particular, and I saw plenty of them during the second presidential debate.  By my rough count, Romney out-interrupted the President, though both of them used this strategy.   Sometimes a lot. [read more]

Comments Off on When is an interruption not an interruption?
Categories: Andrea Lunsford
Read All Andrea Lunsford

Horizontal divider

The Election

posted: 10.17.12 by Barclay Barrios

This is the post I’ve been avoiding.

I’ve been avoiding it because, simply, I’m tired of the election, frightened by it, sick of it, overwhelmed by it, have been driven to the brink of paranoia around it.  It’s not that I’m apathetic (far from it); it’s just that I’m done.  In fact, I end up avoiding almost all political news (which drives my hubby crazy since politics is his hobby/passion/addiction, one exacerbated by living in Boston and listening to talk radio).  I won’t use this forum as my soapbox though I will say I envy those of you who get to look at the issues, who have the exorbitant luxury of considering where candidate X stands on jobs or taxes or education or Syria or the national debt or any other issue.  For me, every election is a single-issue election.  As a queer, I need answer only one question: which candidate gives me the best chance of existing for another four years?

Despite my personal aversion to any discussion of the looming election, it’s no doubt something that can (maybe should) be taught in the FYC classroom.  For me, though, it’s not about advocating for whichever left-ish or right-ish or middle-ish position you think is “correct” or “just” or “true.”  For me, teaching the election has everything to do with helping students to see that polarization is a central problem — one that everyone needs to address. [read more]

Comments Off on The Election
Categories: Barclay Barrios
Read All Barclay Barrios

Horizontal divider

Teaching Through the 2012 Federal Election: More Resources

posted: 8.21.12 by archived

In my last post, I shared some resources that might help structure discussions and assignments around the upcoming federal election.

Today, I want to add some excellent resources that I missed.

One of the most interesting sites centering on the election is the Twitter Political Index. This will be the first election in which Twitter will play a central role, and this index will be “a daily measurement of Twitter users’ feelings toward the candidates as expressed in nearly two million Tweets each week.” For more about the index, check out these articles in Wired and the  Guardian. Some commentators are calling this the “Twitter Election.” I believe  it would be interesting not only to track arguments and sentiments on Twitter, but to discuss and debate the virtues and drawbacks of the medium and make an effort to actually track impact, when and where possible.

[read more]

Comments Off on Teaching Through the 2012 Federal Election: More Resources
Categories: Jay Dolmage, Uncategorized
Read All archived

Horizontal divider

Teaching the Election, Part Two

posted: 2.22.12 by Barclay Barrios

In the last post, I suggested using Steven Johnson’s “Listening to Feedback” when addressing the 2012 election so that students could think about the feedback loops that create media frenzies. Specific examples are always abundant during election time.

Another great essay for this time of year is James Surowiecki’s “Committees, Juries, and Teams: The Columbia Disaster and How Small Groups Can Be Made to Work.”  Surowiecki’s larger work, The Wisdom of Crowds, focuses on how any given group is smarter than the smartest individual within the group—simply, groups work. But in this chapter he looks at all the ways that groups can go wrong.

Many of the concepts he introduced to explain group dynamics—such as group polarization and confirmation bias—are effective in helping students to think about politics on a large scale. How parties operate, how people respond to candidates, how they make decisions in voting… all of these can be pried open using Surowiecki essay.

The essay would also sequence well with Johnson, since he looks at the role that groups play in feedback loops. Students should be able to connect the concepts of both authors to look any what’s going on as we near the election.

Comments Off on Teaching the Election, Part Two
Categories: Uncategorized
Read All Barclay Barrios