Teaching as an adjunct can be a lot of fun. It is also challenging. As I have encountered a number of situations, I realize such a blog can be helpful, both to me and to others.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

King And Cosby

Nick at Nite has been running a Cosby marathon this week. My wife is a big Cosby fan so she has been taping them and watching them at her convenience. I am not sure exactly when they ran this episode but one of the shows they aired, which my wife watched last night, was the one where Theo has to do a paper on the March on Washington. He writes a paper based on Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech. The paper is accurate but abridged and misses many of the main points of the rally.

Since I teach public speaking, I have actually shown King’s I have a Dream speech to just about all of my classes. It is amazing to see what little impact the speech has. I understand that most of the students I teach did not live through this. In fact, I was not born until after the speech was given. Still, I have an understanding of the historical context; I have an appreciation of what was happening in society at the time; I have knowledge about the impact of that speech, and King’s life, on American Society.

I wish I knew how to get the message across. I do set the stage and talk about the speech after I show it but most of the classes I have taught are unimpressed by the speech. I can think of only one class where the students truly seemed to appreciate the speech. In many of the other classes I have even had students tell me they found his speech boring.

I find that shocking. Say what you will about the man. Don’t have an appreciation of the times. But to find the speech boring is mind boggling. So much, in terms of what I teach when it comes to public speaking, is exemplified by King. His delivery, his word smithing ability, his technique are all amazing, yet a number of the students just don’t seem to get it.

I will continue to show the speech. I will continue to talk about it in class and hopefully more of my classes will show an appreciation of just how much that man was able to accomplish and of just what the historical context was of that speech.