Ideological Bubble

In a stack of papers called Connections.

  • Mar
  • 04
  • 2006

Cold air always finds its way into your warm jacket, seeps into your pockets, and no pair of socks keeps out the freezing molecules. Anxiously waiting for the heater to live up to its name on my way to work on a Friday morning a few weeks ago, Steve Inskeep’s intonations chimed through the chill:

President Bush’s budget plan scales back programs targeted for the poor, in education, housing, and food. But not every program that serves lower income Americans would lose, at least not this year. NPR’s Libby Lewis went to Delaware to visit one winner and one loser under the President’s blueprint. The winner would be a home for women with HIV and AIDS. A loser would be Upward Bound, the program for low-income youth who want to go to college (Source).

Fair And…

I like that this segment examined these two programs. At the end, I found myself feeling like it’s six of one, half-a-dozen of the other; the HIV home sounds just as worthy of federal funds as Upward Bound. I could have done without the commentary of Inskeep. The phrase “at least not this year” served as a constant reminder that even the HIV house might wind up on the chopping block soon. The idea of Bush’s budget plan hurting lower-income America is taken as indisputable fact, not supported, backed up, or even discussed.

Flock Together

I recall hearing a few months back that people tend to watch news that supports their ideological bent. Republicans watch FOX and listen to CNN, while complaining about the liberal media getting it all wrong; democrats watch BBC and listen to NPR, while complaining about the conservative media ignoring the facts. We are locked into ideological bubbles in much the same way students are.

Attempts To Break The Bubble

We listened to a few Perspectives pieces on Thursday. Driving in America compared to India from the point of view of an imigrant. The San Francisco police video snafu handled with apathy by the general public (my classes felt the same way). A man deciding that “and” is a better term than “or” in an effort to get rid of divisiveness. Euthanasia as acceptable policy for pets, but not humans. None of these topics really stood out as interesting to students, though the euthanasia one did strike a cord with a few. So I need to tell my students this year that they are getting the library together of interesting topics for posterity. Maybe that’s the name of our audio pieces: Posterity, instead of Perspectives.

As I try so hard to give my students things that might matter to them, offering them chances to pick things up and run with them, I grow weary whenever I read “this is boring” in the dailies or hear “stories about the police just aren’t interesting,” followed by a mild chuckle. To remind myself that this comes from a student who manifests little passion for life whatsoever, someone who is apathy personified, would be helpful. 20/20 hindsight. But I can’t help wondering how so many students know something is boring without even having tried it out. And so they remain, locked in an ideological bubble.


1. Todd says:

[3/5/2006 - 8:14 pm]

Are you suggesting that interesting topics simply do not exist or that I just can’t pick ’em? What do you think *are* interesting topics, Laxmi?

The problem I’m having over and over is that I’m dealing with a limited supply of stories. Within that supply, I’m struggling to get students into the stories. Sure, drugs may be an interesting topic and so might fashion. But within my supply of stories, there’s nothing about drugs or fashion. So does that mean that I can never get my students into the stories I have available? We start Siddhartha next week and we’ll see how it goes, the story of a teenager struggling to find his place in the world.

Another thing I realize about the Perspectives pieces I had them listen to is that I did no set up for the stories at all. It was just, “Here’s another one” and off we went. The euthanasia one that got some people’s attention was the one that I actually set up a bit, discussing what the term meant and whether some agree or disagree. So maybe this is about the power of the set up. Even something boring can become interesting with the proper introduction. In that way, teachers are set-up artists.

2. k. laxmi says:

[3/5/2006 - 6:29 pm]

no good interesting topics

3. aladavlis says:

[12/16/2006 - 8:10 pm]

I am having trouble with my Internet explorer.It is doing some very odd things.Sometimes it will completely close the page i am visiting for no reason or it will be very slow loading pages and when i say slow i mean very very very slow for eg i tried to google something and after 10 minutes of the page trying to load i gave up.I thought that it was perhaps the topic i was searching so i tried putting in random things to see if that made any difference but it didn’t.Another problem i had was when i was on a forum and clicked on a link and nothing happened i tried to open a new tab and that wouldn’t work either and it would let me access any options that are in my tools menu.i had to restart my computer.Just to let you know i have high speed Internet connection.Thanks in advance to anyone that helps me with this problem.

4. Todd says:

[12/16/2006 - 9:06 pm]

aladavlis, are you thinking this is some kind of forum? This is not the best place to post your issue. However, consider the following:

1) Try to use another browser (Netscape, Firefox, etc.) just to be sure it’s not a problem with your copy of Internet Explorer (IE).

2) Restart your computer and try again.

3) Turn off the DSL modem and router (if you have one) for 2 minutes. Then, turn them back on one at a time, starting with the modem. Restart your computer.

4) Call your Internet Service Provider (ISP) and see if they can help you.