If you see a whole thing - it seems that it's always beautiful. Planets, lives... But up close a world's all dirt and rocks. And day to day, life's a hard job, you get tired, you lose the pattern. - Ursula K. LeGuin

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Hot Topics

Today we discussed abortion in my undergraduate class.  I've taught this subject at both the undergraduate and graduate levels for the past 5 years.  In previous years I've always managed to avoid the pro-choice/pro-life debate.

I don't find it a useful debate for the country and I certainly don't find it a useful debate for the classroom.

This year I showed a movie (I Had An Abortion) on Tuesday.  Whenever I show a movie in class I have the students hand in three questions or topics that they want to discuss in class from the movie.  I group the questions/topics into themes and then we discuss them as a group.

While I do have control over which topics/themes I choose, it was much harder to get away from pro-choice/pro-life this time.  It is the only framework people are really given on abortion in this country.  So we addressed it to an extent but worked on finding other frameworks or issues around the topic.

What concerns me is not my students' personal stance on abortion but their general lack of knowledge on the topic, especially on legal and policy issues.  A few were not aware (until the movie) that abortion had ever been illegal.  There is a general perception that abortion is uniformly available and easy to get.  We talked a bit about issues of access, particularly around insurance and healthcare reform, and about the personhood amendment and what is happening in Mississippi.  For almost all of them this was brand new knowledge.

How can we move forward if no one is even aware of the issues?

1 comment:

Bri said...

I wish there was some way I could see this movie. It sounds fascinating.