Originally Posted by Sonics2k
I like that he's challenging the whole "University is safe space" thing, which is in my mind frankly daft. University is where we go to learn and be challenged on our histories, views and ethics. A good friend of mine working as an Assistant Lecturer at a University in the UK was really really shocked when he found out that people complained about aspects of the course because it made them feel uncomfortable, eg aspects of domestic violence and rape. You wouldn't mind, but this was a course on aspects of the darker side of History in Europe.
I've had direct experience of those types of topics in a course I was doing. One module was on aspects of criminology, particularly related to crimes against the person. The nature of the overall course meant it attracted people who had been victims of crime, rape victims, marital rape victims, people who had experience of child abuse (although not directly to them,) the effects of drug addiction on families, and homelessness.
The lecturer, a battle hardened woman who in her career had dealt with the most horrific things imaginable knew this was a difficult course with serious subject matter that could be very hard on people even if they had no direct experience, or even indirect experience of the topics that came up.
A lot of people present this as a binary option. A lecturer blasts in without a care in the world of the impact of what they're teaching on what may be a vulnerable person. Their attitude is suck it up, this is real, and you're here to learn. On the other side is the people who literally don't want to hear any of it, no matter how important it is to the matter at hand, and don't even want it taught. This is not the reality of the situation though, and it certainly isn't representative of how it was handled in my module.
The first thing the teacher did was outline the progression of the course. What we would be dealing with in what order. They then said if someone has an issue, or is very sensitive to what would be discussed in a particular class they were free to not turn up, or leave during the class if it started to effect them. There would be no questions or interrogations beyond, "Are you ok?" However this didn't mean you were exempt from learning about important topics, or that you could ignore them. It just meant you weren't expected to learn them in a class situation, surrounded by other people, some you may not know, and getting progressively worried and anxious about the situation. What it did mean was that if you didn't go to a particular class, or left a class due to the effects of it you were expected to learn the information and theory in another way. The lecturer would help, they'd give their slides and notes, they'd point out the readings, and if there was seriously difficulty with an issue they'd give a little time to the person individually, in a more relaxed setting. No-one was excused from learning, but if someone did have a serious issue they could learn in a way that was more comfortable to them, with help.
No-one abused this, no-one skipped every class. I don't even know if people had left or not turned up to classes because they had an issue with what was being taught, or if they were just sick, or dossing. No-one asked. People's privacy was respected. But everyone was expected to know the material, and complete the assignments, even if it was on an area they had personal trouble with.
When you present the two opposites of teaching, one with no regard to the students welfare, or the other of not teaching at all because of regards to a students emotional welfare (as opposed to their intellectual welfare) it leaves out other, non-ridiculous, non-hyperbolic strategies for dealing with subjects that are extremely difficult emotionally, but also extremely important.