> I think Eric is making this idea of "real" topics appear too easy, and
> I'm willing to bet that the majority of students, no matter how much
> choice you give them, still see their work as required rather than
> desired . . .
I think that topics like abortion and gun control and euthanasia
and all the other old saws _are_ real to the people in our classes. I
routinely give my students the opportunity to form interest groups to
investigate topics of their choice, and I inevitably see the same topics
over and over. I think that many eighteen- to twenty-year-olds are
learning to argue as adults, to form adult opinions, for the first time
when they come to college, and the issues of the day are their issues as
much as anybody's. I've been struck with the sensitivity and passion
with which people address those topics.
I also think that there are a lot of tired old tape loops about
those topics, and the challenge is to create situations where the tape
loops can be gotten past. It's been my experience that if I can create a
situation where people feel free to debate the issues and to counter one
another respectfully, nearly everyone learns something about audience.
It's the quality of interaction about it that makes a topic "real," not
the topic itself.
University of Michigan-Dearborn
4901 Evergreen Rd.
Dearborn, MI 48128
Web page: http://www.umd.umich.edu/~marcyb