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Teaching Global Citizens: Following the News
Unformatted Document Text:  Jennifer Rutledge and Serena Laws “Educating Global Citizens” **DRAFT ** suggestion. None of these professors ever discussed the news in class consistently, gave news quizzes, or even asked students if they were, in fact, reading the paper every day. One instructor candidly admitted that the mention of reading the newspaper in the syllabus was "kind of a joke," more of a throwaway comment than a serious requirement. 2 In the course of asking instructors questions about their incorporation of current events, some interesting patterns emerged. All five instructors said that students in this course know very little about politics or of what is going on in the world. Yet despite having this dim view of the level of knowledge of students, four of the five instructors did not think it important enough or related enough to their objectives in teaching the course to require reading or discussing the news in any systematic way. Of these, two expressed regret about that fact, and said they had at times wondered if they should include reading the paper more. The other two did not seem likely to ever include such a requirement, one because he felt this was not his role as an intro instructor, and the other because he did not think students would end up remembering any of it anyway. The one outlier said from the outset that his approach to teaching the course was to help students see the relevance of course materials to their own lives. So he would match up topics in the text to current events as much as possible by showing Frontline documentaries, bringing in clips from NPR, and using videos that went with the text. He also required weekly news reflection papers in which students had to relate a current events story to an assigned chapter and explain how it related to a particular concept. He said having students write the news reflections worked pretty well in that it got them to read the paper and write about it in a more sophisticated way. In sum, while professors did not include current events in a systematic way, many seemed 2 This suggests we should be wary of assessing professors' commitment to teaching current events by merely checking to see if they required it in their syllabus. Though scanning syllabi is an easy way to try to address these questions (Ward, 2007), it may lead to an overinflated sense of how much current events or international politics are actually included. 9

Authors: Rutledge, Jennifer. and Laws, Serena.
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Jennifer Rutledge and Serena Laws
“Educating Global Citizens” **DRAFT **
suggestion. None of these professors ever discussed the news in class consistently, gave news
quizzes, or even asked students if they were, in fact, reading the paper every day. One instructor
candidly admitted that the mention of reading the newspaper in the syllabus was "kind of a joke,"
more of a throwaway comment than a serious requirement.
In the course of asking instructors questions about their incorporation of current events,
some interesting patterns emerged. All five instructors said that students in this course know very
little about politics or of what is going on in the world. Yet despite having this dim view of the
level of knowledge of students, four of the five instructors did not think it important enough or
related enough to their objectives in teaching the course to require reading or discussing the news
in any systematic way. Of these, two expressed regret about that fact, and said they had at times
wondered if they should include reading the paper more. The other two did not seem likely to
ever include such a requirement, one because he felt this was not his role as an intro instructor,
and the other because he did not think students would end up remembering any of it anyway.
The one outlier said from the outset that his approach to teaching the course was to help
students see the relevance of course materials to their own lives. So he would match up topics in
the text to current events as much as possible by showing Frontline documentaries, bringing in
clips from NPR, and using videos that went with the text. He also required weekly news
reflection papers in which students had to relate a current events story to an assigned chapter and
explain how it related to a particular concept. He said having students write the news reflections
worked pretty well in that it got them to read the paper and write about it in a more sophisticated
way.
In sum, while professors did not include current events in a systematic way, many seemed
2 This suggests we should be wary of assessing professors' commitment to teaching current events by merely
checking to see if they required it in their syllabus. Though scanning syllabi is an easy way to try to address these
questions (Ward, 2007), it may lead to an overinflated sense of how much current events or international politics are
actually included.
9


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