19.3.16

COWBOY UP.

I've been less than impressed with the pearl-clutching among college faculty fearful of students legally carrying concealed weapons in class.  Now comes Arkansas State historian Erik Gilbert, suggesting there are probably students and faculty packing heat in class in Texas already.  More to the point, though, he suggests that students being moved to draw by too much of the metrofexual smug are suddenly demonstrating a level of engagement with class that is, shall we say, unexpected.
Speaking of flawed risk assessment, suggestions that Texas faculty avoid teaching controversial topics are predicated on the notion that students are so intensely engaged with the material in their classes that they are willing to risk doing 20 to life (and not receiving a passing grade) to challenge our ideas with gunfire. I find this utterly implausible. In every other context where we talk about student engagement, it is to decry its absence. This is especially true in the humanities (and I am guessing that it’s not the accounting faculty who are being advised to keep mum about their radical ideas on valuing inventories so their students won’t fly off the handle). Most of us complain that our students won’t even read, and now we are worrying about them being so engaged that they might throw caution to the wind and start shooting?
That is, it doesn't matter whether you're teaching the controversies, or being transgressive, or simply reading your slides aloud and counting on the students to read them silently.
Teach however and whatever you want. Don’t worry about the presence of legally carried guns in your classrooms. If you are going to worry, worry about someone illegally bringing a gun on campus with the intention of causing mayhem, not someone who legally carries a gun in the hope of protecting himself from harm. And those students whose faces cloud with anger when you attack their complacently bourgeois understanding of Jane Austen, they are probably just reacting to something on their phones. And, anyway, they’re too worried about their grades to shoot you.
Besides, drawing a pistol might bring law enforcement in.  Get a bad grade, there's a deanlet somewhere to whine to.

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