I just filled a substitute teaching assignment for a Civics teacher I’ve subbed for many times in the past. The teacher in question is a very nice guy & good teacher who happens to fall on the liberal side of the political spectrum. As such, the conservatively-inclined students in his classes frequently try to start arguments with him as a means of disrupting class and “running down the clock.” (For the record, I find this kind of behavior unacceptable regardless of the political leanings of the students; it would be just as inappropriate for liberal students to disrupt a conservative teacher’s lesson.) When I come in to substitute, they sometimes try the same thing with me (for the record, I consider myself a moderate), but I shut them down pretty quickly by remaining steadfastly apolitical when I’m in the room as a teacher. The way I see it, I get paid to teach them how to think, not what to think–there’s a big difference.
Anyway, one of the kids started going off on a rant about Obama that I felt compelled to stop cold in order to teach him a basic lesson about getting your facts straight in order to form a coherent, intelligent argument. The whole thing went something like this:
Student: “Obama said he would put people in jail who didn’t get his health insurance plan, and his own mother doesn’t have health insurance–”
Me: “Stop right there. Could you repeat that last part?”
Student: “I said, his own mother doesn’t have health insurance!”
Me: “Well, you’re absolutely right, and there’s a very good reason why she doesn’t have health insurance.”
Student: “What do you mean?”
Me: “President Obama’s mother has been dead for sixteen years; as such, health insurance is of absolutely no use to her.”
Student: (long, awkward pause) “Oh.”
It’s moments like this that make me better understand why a guy who taught physics when I was in high school kept a bottle of Southern Comfort in his back storage room.