Relating Course Concepts to Current Events

Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people. Eleanor Roosevelt

Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people. Eleanor Roosevelt

While I can get behind this quote – not in terms of judging what people discuss but rather in terms of what one may aspire to do ultimately, which is discuss ideas – I also think that it should be less of a tiered approach that may smack of elitism, and more of a pyramid of aspects.

It’s going from ideas to their manifestation in the form of people and their actions and events as much as the other way around, going from events and people and getting to the eagle view by connecting them to ideas.

This is where current events may illustrate a concept or a point and connect or ground an idea, as well as introduce it in a way that is easier to relate to.

Why use current events? Of course, it will make the course livelier and bring to reality certain aspects. Here are some more benefits of incorporating current events:

  • they are authentic and can be interprofessional, complex, and cross-discipline.
  • they can be more conducive to debate.
  • current events offer novelty and a pathway to elicit students’ curiosity and engagement without significant barriers; current events can be easy to relate to because we tend to have an emotional reaction to them, they are realistic.
  • they can be portrayed differently in various sources that promote critical thinking about media treatments and biases.
  • students appear to enjoy the inclusion of current events in the coursework.
  • current events tend to increase awareness of the events in the real world.
  • current events may offer an opportunity for students to participate in the real life outside of the classroom (or as part of the coursework).
  • in addition, intentional discussions of current events may help students see through the event and uncover the real story and real issues.
  • finally, if used appropriately, including current events in assignments may actually cut down on plagiarism as the assignment prompt now must be connected to the analysis of current events.
  • current events may help students finesse their career paths and/or sustain and grow professionally.

Of course, there are a number of issues around using current events as well.

  • Is it possible that these may dilute the content and make it all about headlines?
  • May the ideas be misapplied?
  • May there be too much bias to get beyond?
  • Maybe students will be distracted and side-tracked?
  • Maybe certain current events are a poor illustration of the concepts you are trying to help students master?
  • Could it be that some events may be just too overwhelming and emotional?

All of these are valid concerns and it will be the instructor’s judgment to weigh them against the benefits of including these in the course.

Recommended resources:

Fostering Instructor Presence: A Webinar

Why teach current events?

Ripped from the Headlines: How to Turn Current Events into Real-World Projects

Tags: | | | |

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *