Let the Faculty Debate
Here's a way to innovate in teaching history: create a course based on debates over critical issues. Jay Schalin of the Pope Center doesn't mean student debates; he means that two faculty members should argue formally over issues such as (in American history) the national bank vs. the gold standard,"manifest destiny," the Monroe Doctrine, and, of couse, slavery vs. abolition.
Jay's argument in favor includes a sample syllabus for an American history course.
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Allan Walstad - 10/26/2009
The question is whether you can get faculty to commit to a potentially embarrassing one-on-one debate in front of students. The closest I came was some years ago when I taught a freshman seminar on controversial topics and invited colleagues with different views (than mine) to sit in on some of the discussions. There were also a few occasions when my offer to make a pitch for libertarianism in a social science class was accepted. I tend to favor a formal, structured debate on topics of disagreement, but it's hard to get a stand-up opponent. Maybe we're just wimps at my college.
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