Letter to the Editor
May 10, 2007 — D.O.C. Changes Strengthen Program
For what it's worth, I'd like to add my two cents to the debate over Thurgood Marshall College's Dimensions of Culture curriculum.
I was one of three faculty members who designed D.O.C. 2, the course titled "Justice," and taught the course in its initial years. The latest version of the course is indeed in some ways different from what history professor Michael Parrish, political science professor Harry Hirsch and I put together many years ago - and it may well be a better course now.
In my judgment, the complaint about a watered-down curriculum that no longer reflects a commitment to social justice is simply misplaced and is wrong. Examination of the D.O.C. 2 course syllabus reveals this at once. Course syllabi for D.O.C. 1 and D.O.C. 3 read similarly.
Finally, a word about pedagogy. A good teacher will try to figure out where this particular generation of students is coming from, meet them on the field of their natural assumptions and understandings and endeavor to pry open those assumptions and push them further. That's why the good teacher can use just about any text to teach. The claim that because x, y or z reading has been dropped from the curriculum reveals a watering down is nonsense. I can teach about capitalism, for instance, using Karl Marx or Milton Friedman. If I thought that using Friedman would be more effective because it meets students on their field of assumptions and thus better enables me to pose basic questions that might expand students' understanding, I would use Friedman over Marx any day.
- Robert Horwitz
Professor, Department of Communication