status quo ante — “the state of things as it was before.”
During the first fourteen years of my schooling I was taught the status quo. Yes I answered a lot of questions, some of which I even came up with, but I never “questioned” anything. I learned about Pilgrims, read all the books “smart” kids were suppose to read, and was told pollution was bad. During this time I cannot ever remember having to think about what I was learning. I was just expected to become part of the status quo, and I should say, becoming part of the status quo was my goal.
In my sophomore year of college I had a professor who was somewhat controversial. He said and taught things that went against the status quo. He presented ideas that I could not help think about-controversial ideas that did not just flow into my brain, but something made me stop, make conclusions, and seek out evidence before accepting or rejecting them. He made me “think” about what I was learning and being taught—I started to “question” everything and have not stopped.
An idea that is controversial always makes me think more than one that re-states the status quo. I have not seen many blog posts, plurks, tweets, or ed websites that challenge the status quo. If you read most comments they all tend to be written to tell the writer why they agree with their point.
Can we truly teach kids to question things without bringing up controversial topics into our classroom? We can’t teach kids to challenge the status quo by simply having them answer questions about generic topics and maybe even sometime “creating” their own questions that they answer. I know I have stopped bringing up ideas of mine that would be considered controversial in school. Folks hear them and minds close-I am assumed to be wrong because my ideas do not support the status quo. I think that also applies to this blog–as a small time blogger I am afraid of having someone feel “offended.”
I know that I also do not feel safe talking about controversial topics in class. Kids would love it, but parents would not see it as an opportunity for their kid to question and examine their own belief system, examine evidence from multiple points-of-views, draw a conclusion and defend it with data and facts. All it would take is one single phone call from a parent to destroy my life. I am not ready for that.