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Taking action can be a learning tool

December 25, 2007

Re "Rally supports O.C. teacher," Dec. 20

What a wonderful thing to see students getting involved in a controversial topic. Whether they are backing James Corbett, the Capistrano Valley High School teacher, or backing the young man allegedly offended by him makes no difference. They are getting involved in action toward their beliefs. For 33 years as a high school teacher, I have never seen so much apathy in students as in the last five years. This has been sad because education absolutely thrives on controversy.

It is not the job of a real teacher to teach a bland gruel of mediocrity that perpetuates the platitudes of the majority viewpoint and causes drooling heads to fall on the desks. An inspiring teacher presents an idea, a viewpoint, the more controversial the better. This idea may or may not be the belief of the teacher, but it is intended to generate critical thinking on the part of the student. It matters not whether the student agrees with the idea, as long as he or she is thinking logically about the issue.

I congratulate the teacher, the student, the people protesting. They are taking action on a controversial topic.

Milt Rouse

Dana Point

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Corbett's supporters talk about such things as "making his students think," "freedom of thought" and "opening people's minds," and those are indeed worthwhile. I wonder, though, what would happen if it were turned around; if a different history teacher taught students, say, that the Soviet Union failed because it rejected faith and biblical values. That teacher might also be trying to make students think and open their minds to possibilities they may not have considered. But I suspect we'd find some of Corbett's supporters adhering to a double standard.

Adam Beneschan

Mission Viejo

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I found Vanessa Farnan's comments very telling. First she dismissed Corbett's supporters as being "all people who know him." Apparently her brother's supporters are people who do not have firsthand experience with this classroom. They seem to be responding instead to some battle cry for the religious right. She also said, "If [Corbett] wants to teach like that, he should be at a university." Perhaps she doesn't understand that advanced placement courses are supposed to be college level, eligible for university credit. Unfortunately, too many AP classes are just about the test at the end, whereas Corbett's class emphasizes critical thinking, the basis of good education.

Deborah Evans

Mission Viejo

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