of Dr. Steven L. Berg

MLK, Blogging, and Constructive Criticism

I had planned to do more writing in 2012, but not to the extent I have done this week.  There were two more blog entries today and another entry I drafted yesterday still waits for some editing.

I have asked students to give additional suggestions for films honoring Dr. King as part of the comments section of Film Studies because I plan to show films for the first day of class.  I will wait as long as possible to select the films I will teach on Monday and Tuesday to given them as much time as possible to respond.  My bias will, of course, be to favor films suggested by students.  As a result, I cannot prepare my first day of class materials until Sunday evening.  But, if students do make suggestions, it will be worth it.

As part of my effort to both set the tone for the semester classes and to encourage students to post on blogs, I included the following information in a sidebar to an e-mail I sent to all of my students today:

Reasonable people could disagree with positions I take in both of the blog postings referenced in this e-mail.  For example, there are good arguments as to why Schoolcraft College should close on Monday.  If you believe that, please do not hesitate to disagree with me in a comment.

My recommended films are based on the premise that there is not a need to actually discuss specifics texts or biographical information about Dr. King.  Again, reasonable people could argue that my choices are not appropriate; that the focus should be on King himself.  If that is your position, please state it with a recommendation of a film or film clip that you would recommend.

Although I did not argue those positions in what I posted today, I would welcome your posting such arguments in response to my essays. Please do not feel that I only want people to agree with my positions (athough that is nice, too).

In the past, I did not hesitate to state my opinion that I did not think that we needed to focus specifically on Dr. King’s life. And I have had students disagree with that position and bring clips from Dr. King’s speeches.  In putting together the first day of class materials, this year I might even choose some excerpts from Dr. King’s speeches or a biographical sketch of him.

Unfortunately, students have heard previous professors or teachers encourage constructive criticism when the professor/teacher really wanted agreement.  But I am willing to entertain constructive criticism.  It is possible to disagree without being disagreeable.

Thoughts of a Dead Atheist is an interesting film on many levels.  The stark photography–except for the devil’s boa–is well done even though I find the homosexulizing of the devil to be disturbing.  Interesting theological discussion.  Could be taught in conjunction with The Black Button.


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