Saturday, March 04, 2006

Teaching or Brainwashing?

"To repeat what others have said, requires education; to challenge it, requires brains." ~ Mary Pettibone Poole

Thursday's story about Colorado Geography teacher Jay Bennish's anti-America, anti-Bush political rant in a classroom has grown wings. For those of you who have been held captive in a cave somewhere without electricity, or for those of you in Rio Linda, one of his students, Sean Allen, 16, secretly captured the entire rant on tape.

Here is my perspective on it from my uncomfortable seat in the bleachers, 4 rows back in left field:

First, lets try to keep this in the proper perspective. Bennish is a high school teacher, not a professional politician. He has no more knowledge of what goes on behind the scenes of politics than I do. Therefore, his opinion is no better than those of the rest of us. Furthermore, he isn't even a political science teacher. He is a Geography teacher. He is not an expert by any definition.

Which is exactly why I find it amusing that all these Conservative talk show hosts are spending so much time refuting the man's charges. Why bother? This isn't a question of whether the teacher is right or wrong. It makes no difference.

At this point I wonder if the teacher was a Conservative, would those same Conservative talk show hosts be so outraged? Well, even if they aren't, I'm sure the Liberal media people would have a field day. I wonder also, if he was a Conservative, how much louder and longer would the Liberal media elites scream?

The point is the teacher is not teaching. He is indoctrinating. Some might even go so far as saying he's brainwashing his students. According to Sean Allen, the student that taped the rant, Mr. Bennish has been doing this all semester. One wonders if he has been indoctrinating students since he's been teaching. That would be, I think, 6 years of brainwashing.

The exodus of students from the school in protest of the teachers suspension would seem to be an indication that some damage has already been done.

Does the teacher have a right to his opinion? Yes, he does. Does he have a right to voice it to his students? Yes, he does.

He does?

Yes. As long as it is balanced with someone who will articulate an opposing view, and then let the students form their own opinions.

The scary thing about this whole thing is that this is not an isolated incident. Teachers are doing this in universities and high schools all over the country. The only difference is they usually don't get reported. Sean Hannity has been recommending that students tape the Liberally biased rants of teachers for years.

As long as they are taping, they should tape the Conservatively biased rants as well. There is a proper time and place for expressing one's personal political opinions. A high school or college classroom is not that place.

After all, the Liberal media in this country is doing a fine job of brainwashing students and everybody else with impressionable minds already.

Teachers don't need to be helping.


Erudite Redneck said...

This must be a tempest in the talk radio teapot. No clue whatcher yer talking about.

The Liberal Lie The Conservative Truth said...

I heard this nut case rant on Sean Hannity and also heard the interview with the sixteen year old and his father who expossed this lunatic for what he is. It is no wonder that many of our young people leave government schools without a clue as to what to do in life or the education to compete in society. This liberal indoctrine that is very evident in schools today not only has no business in school but is a disgrace to the teaching profession. I would say the same if it were a conservative agenda being pushed. But conservatives believe in letting students and adults form their own opinion based on the facts and not force feed socialism as the left does in grade and high schools as well as universities. Good post Mark !


Mark said...

read more here

The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

Which is exactly why I find it amusing that all these Conservative talk show hosts are spending so much time refuting the man's charges. Why bother?

It isn't so much what he says, as it is the forum he is expressing it in.

At this point I wonder if the teacher was a Conservative, would those same Conservative talk show hosts be so outraged?

I doubt it. But I'll tell you, I am in the "teacher role" when I teach gymnastics. A number of the team girls come from very liberal families and voiced it during the 2004 Election. I refused to discuss politics with them, because it's the wrong time and place for it; nor would I feel it appropriate that I indoctrinate these kids into my politics, when they are mostly unarmed on a mature position, and knowing full well the political leanings of their parents.

Listening to Prager yesterday, a caller mentioned how his 2nd grader's teacher is reported to have walked into the classroom the day after the 2004 Election and announced to the 7 year olds, "Looks like another 4 years of killing."

Nice, huh?

Mark....this moderation mode is driving me nuts. I want immediate gratification!!!!! If Hugh Hewitt is allowed to have rapid response radio, I want real-time blog-commenting!

Mark said...

I don't like it either, Smithy, but after I had some very rude comments and 75 spams on one post, I decided to reinstate it.

old soldier said...


I'm not sure I agree that teachers have a right to express an political opinion no matter whether it's left or right. Certainly they are entitled to their opinion; but whatever happended to "teaching" our kids without having to infuse an agenda during the process. The college years are early enough to start to teach politically critical thinking, and then it should still be without an agenda, merely factual; let the students figure out their own ideology.

As for your comment about whether or not right leaning talk radio would be talking about conservative teachers indoctrinating; it occurs significantly less than vice versa. Conservative teachers more frequently stick to the curriculum without infusing their ideology. It is the liberal elite that believes we're all too dumb to realize what is best for us. They are the ones that believe people must be indoctrinated for their ouw good.

The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

It only is annoying when you post, and you dont' see your comment or others rsponses get put up until hours and hours later.

Another thing: everywhere I click on the conservative blogosphere, I see that bw photo of Bennish...ack, did you have to blow yours up, so large?

Yes, I'm in a whiny mood this morning over trivialities.

Poison Pero said...

How did you miss this, ER??

21 minute rant to 10th graders......Very nice.

Here's the link:
I can't believe you would find this appropriate in a high school setting.........Or do you??

Timothy said...

I think the thing that gives me comfort in all of this is that judging by the response to the students who walked out over protest of the suspension, about 80 percent of the students were clueless and therefore, were probably not listening to the lunatic in the first place. Just as they probably don't listen to him during his teaching times, they probably don't listen during his rants either.

I still find the idea of public schools absurd. Why do we entrust those we don't know with the education of our children when it is our responsibility to educate our children. It's not the state's responsibility, but ours and we will be held accountable on judgement day on how we raised these eternal beings. The state could care less about judgment day. They think they will be excluded from it.

Lone Ranger said...

This is why liberals are so frantic to kill school vouchers. If they lose control of kids' minds, they lose control, period. It doesn't matter that they will condemn children to a lifetime of poverty, so long as they can maintain a grip on power.

Corie said...

I don't see this as a freedom of speech issue at all. I see it as an ethical issue.
The school district has firmly said that this teacher can give his opinion in class. The problem is that he presents his opinion as fact and he does not give differing view points from his own. Both of these things he is required to do but clearly didn't.
He claims that he says these things to facilitate discussion and debate in the classroom. But how can you debate an issue when only one side of the issue is being presented?
Also, I know the media love to show all the students that protested in support of this teacher, but there were just as many that were protesting the protesters and believe that this teacher is in the wrong. You probably won't see them on the news, but there are many of them out there.

Erudite Redneck said...

By the time my kid was in high school, she could pretty much tell "fact" from opinion, and what she couldnt tell she asked me or her mama about. I might be upset that 21 minutes of class time was wasted on a teacher's opinion, regardless of the particular bent *of* that opinion.

Francis Lynn said...

It's as obvious as the wart on Howard Dean's nose that this teacher was using a captive audience to vent his spleen. There was no give & take, no intellectual devil's advocate. Pure rant from a frustrated liberal because George Bush is President & he can''t do a damn thing about that.

His "opinion" is not supposed to include a diatribe against the evil GW. He is cheating his students of real teaching just so he can get his cheap political orgasm.

Goat said...

I had a liberal history teacher that knew I was very anti-communist so guess what happened for an important grade in debate, I got assigned to the pro communist side, needless to say I got a low mark even after ingesting Marx for over a month. The capitalist side destroyed me of course. This teacher offered no conflicting opinion to his rant, if he had , no problem. I was interested in four things in HS, hunting, fishing , soccer and girls. I work with a couple kids in their twenties , one conservative, privately educated in college that can articulate and expand on an idea, one a moonbat from public schools that has trouble getting past "you know, like, you know, I don't know like you know,". I know the difference in education first hand as well, I attended a private HS from 8th to 11th grade and my parents divorced and I spent my senior year in a public HS, a good one, and they didn't catch up with my 8th grade teaching, I made honor role sleeping through class. The whole public school experience turned me off from college and before that I was eager to apply and building a list and researching where I wanted to go.

Goat said...

Mark in response to WFN's compaint, Haloscan. You have far more control over you comment section without jamming your mailbox

Mary said...

Some of the things that Bennish said to his captive audience of impressionable kids are just inexcusable.

--Who is the probably the single most violent nation on earth? United States. We’re a democracy. Quote unquote. Who has the most weapons of mass destruction? United States. Who is continuing to develop new weapons of mass destruction as we speak? United States.

--Now, I’m not saying that Bush and Hitler are exactly the same, obviously they are not, but there are some eerie similarities to the tones that they use.

Where was the balance? There was none. I think Bennish created a hostile environment, not an open learning environment.

No teacher should compare Bush to Hitler. Period.

Goat said...

Exactly Mary, are we neocon zionists or neo nazis, just a little difference there. The left's lack of historical connection is a bleeping redlight for conservatives to latch onto and promote, combined with their support of Chavez and Castro.

Sheila said...

This teacher went completely off track.

Not for his beliefs mind you. But completely inappriate use of class time and shoving his beliefs down a class of inpressionable minds.

I had three great teachers in High School. One History one economics worked as a team. They piggybacked each other to enforce information when History was in the American Government phase.

Both gathered teams of us had us gather information on political subjects pertaining to our class subject. We had disscussions and no answer was right or wrong. Very educational.

I had a Biology teacher in 10th that taught a year long "From Amiba to Mammal. In the last two weeks we went into intelligent design and had discussion about which were right. I won't tell you what the out come was per individual. It was set up so we could discuss without disrupting or threatening a childs family belief system.

These three men are the type of teachers children need. Not the type who rant their beliefs at them whether Right or Left or Inbetween.

Mark said...

I try to think about whether I was taught how to think or what to think back when I was in high school.

Either I don't remember, or I wasn't paying attention. I do recall, after learning a bit about Communism in my Government class, I came away thinking that Communism was a pretty good form of government if it was applied the right way.

Then again, He showed us those old grainy films of dissidents being executed and filling up mass graves, too.

So maybe he was showing us both pros and cons of Communism. I just don't remember.

Erudite Redneck said...

Having now read what he said, all your complaints, to me, reflect lack of understanding of how to lead a discussion in a classroom, a lack of understanding of what "geography" is, and an eager willingness, as usual, to believe anything any talk radio charlatan says.

Not only appropriate, but to be encouraged. Read it:


Erudite Redneck said...

Plus, it was an acclerated honors class, meant to be more like a college class than a high school class.

Read the syllabus:


Mark said...

Appropriate? To present one side of an idealogical argument without presenting the other side? In a classroom where it is assumed they teach students HOW to think, not WHAT to think?

What if he had taken the Conservative side? There is no doubt that Liberals would scream and organize marches in protest, and likely, would not only demand his immediate firing, but the ACLU would bring a lawsuit, insisting he doesn't have the right to teach Conservative doctrines.

I have heard the entire tape, plus I read the transcript. I don't need a talk show host to convince me that Mr Bennish's rant was totaly inappropriate, without presenting a balance of opinions from all points of view.

In fact, I have an issue with the talk show hosts, who seem to think this guy's rants are worthy of responding to, point by point. They aren't. They are the ravings of a garden variety Liberal who has probably received his talking points from Air America.

So, apparently, it's ok to get your ideas from talk radio as long as it's liberal talk radio.

Don't look now, but your hypocrisy and arrogance is showing.

Jason H. Bowden said...

Bennish gave his political sermon in a geography class, right?

That's definitely not ethical.

Erudite Redneck said...

Mark, since you attacked me personally (your last line, since you often plead blindness to such), AGAIN, you jerk, your ingorance is showing. Quit being a jackass, you smug dolt.

There. That's second blood. We're even.

I've been in classes where right-wing jerks ranted, as well. This is a tempest.

We disagree.

Might be the best thing, actually, for all the righty-rights to withdraw from the public schools. The ability to reason will go to hell in a handbasket, this country will finally FALL, and the rest of us can rebuild it back the way it was meant to be.

The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

Plus, it was an acclerated honors class, meant to be more like a college class than a high school class.

Like Fox News, because they disagree with the non-liberal slanting, er has to poo-poo talk radio's partisan rightward reporting. Hugh Hewitt with a background in Constitutional Law, is a much more well-informed journalist than anyone you will find at the NY Times, discussing such matters as the NSA wiretaps. He had on Sean Allen, the student who taped the class, and if you go to Radioblogger, er, you can read a transcript or listen to the audio of what Sean Allen has to say regarding the "honors" curriculum of Bennish in comparison to the regular geography class.

Erudite Redneck said...

Huh? I don't poo-poo conservative talk radio. I just don't confuse it with news. (And, except for an occasional indulgence in Rush, I don't listen to it.) As a result, I had to go looking for the "story" about the teacher, although after I had looked it up, I did hear somebody on Fox talking about it, but it wasn't on a news program, but another talk program. And I don't poo-poo Fox News; I accept it for what it is: news with a rightward slant. They're proud of it. It's a free country, more or less. So, I don't know what you mean.

The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

ok, never mind. I see others FROM THE LEFT who do confuse talk radio as straight news, rather than like the op-ed columns in the papers.

Little Miss Chatterbox said...

Haloscan is so much better than comment moderation. I can't tell you how glad I am that I switched.
You can ban, edit and delete trolls so much easier.

Spewing propaganda isn't what should be happening in schools whether it is a left or rightwing agenda. This teacher is an idiot for spouting his ridiculous rants instead of teaching geography.

And this is yet another argument for school choice. I resent the fact that I have to pay double for my kids' education because I refuse to put them in public school to be indoctrinated with left-wing tripe.

Erudite Redneck said...

Re, "No teacher should compare Bush to Hitler. Period."

No president's action should cause Hitler to come to mind. Period.