Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Jay Bennish update: Bennish adopts the Marion Barry defense

I have to hand it to Jay Bennish, the left's favorite stream-of-consciousness high-school teacher. With his teaching job on the line as a result of a student releasing a tape of one of his anti-capitalist, anti-US classroom rants, Bennish was able to turn his interview on the NBC's Today Show into an opportunity to blame the victim--with a helpful assist from Today Show host Matt Lauer.

According the interview transcript [hat tip: NewsBusters], Lauer matter-of-factly declared that the family of the student who taped Bennish's diatribe "shopped it around to conservative media outlets" (i.e. economist Walter Williams, who first broke the story in his column). Sensing a conspiracy to throttle the teaching of high school geography, Lauer then asked Bennish if he felt he had been "set up"--you know, just like Marion Barry said when he got caught smoking crack. Bennish's answer:

"Well you know the lecture initially was an introduction to world geography and we were covering very, you know stereotypical terms like mental mapping and cultural landscapes. And I was receiving questions from Sean [NB: Sean is the victim of false consciousness that framed Bennish] as well as from other students trying to get me to respond to the State of the Union address that was the night before and I explained to the students that in the case of the State of the Union this is applicable to a world geography class because for many people around the world this speech might impact their lives more so than the speeches that their own, own leaders give."
Good grief--a simple "yes" or "no" would have sufficed. Besides, what ought a professional instructor do when they are asked an off-topic question? (hint: it's not give a Marxist rant). Yet we all know that when two great minds like Lauer and Bennish get together, it's going to even get even thicker. Lauer then asks Bennish if he expected all the national attention:

"From the students? Yes. From the national media and the attention from people all over the country? Obviously not. You know my job as a, as a teacher is to challenge students to think critically about issues that are affecting our world and our society. And you know the process of cognitive dissonance is one way to activate their minds and to get them to think about these various things."
"Cognitive dissonance" isn't a process after a stream-of-consciousness tirade--it's an end state. And why is it up to some poor high school kid to have to talk his screaming teacher down from the ledge? Sorry pal, but when you decry every aspect of the American civilization in a classroom tirade and one of your students records it, that's going to make news.

The interview is not over. Lauer then notes all the support Bennish has received, including a walk-out of students at his high school.

Gimmie a break. You know that teachers like Bennish place no demands on their students as long as they nod approvingly so as to evidence their deep thoughtfulness and talk about whatever crosses their mind in their teacher's glorified rap sessions. I bet even the token resister gets his "A-" on the grounds that he asked some "good questions." For Lauer to act as if these brainwashed kids are the barometer of Bennish's competence as a teacher is appalling. They are not the judge.

The acid test is if Bennish's students posses the core competencies that a proper high school curriculum ought to teach. I can't imagine how that would be possible, given Bennish's fetish for long-winded leftist rages. My view: the man deserves to be fired for incompetence, plain and simple. He is free to engage in his rants from behind the counter of his local coffee-house or organic foods store, but not in front of a high-school classroom.

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