Teach-ins attract dissenting voices

Dr. Ralph Young is popular. Really popular. Just ask any of Young’s students, who gave him rave reviews as both a professor of the history course, “Dissent in America” and as a leader of weekly teach-ins on current issues. Senior sociology major Healey Whitsett said she can attest to Young’s reputation.

“I think he’s an amazing professor and a great resource in general. He is one of my favorite professors at Temple,” Whitsett

Whitsett took Young’s “Dissent in America” class her freshman year and still attends the teach-ins. Recently, she and graduate student, Leah Hilsey lead a teach-in about Mexico. The pair had gone to the country last January through the Project Mexico organization and wanted to share their experience.

The “Dissent in America” class focuses
on historic instances and people protesting for rights in the US. The teach-ins are fairly new to Temple but have definitely
made their mark on the students.

“It has made me think of dissent in a whole new way. I look at myself and wonder
if I could ever do this and admire the people who are doing it,” said Marisa Albanese, a junior political science major.

Albanese is currently taking “Dissent in America” and said she has a high level of respect for Young.

“I love his nature and his way of teaching. I can just tell he’s a former hippie
radical and he tells us the truth,” Albanese said.

Young started teaching “Dissent in America” about five years ago and found that his students were very passionate about the issues that were discussed. Young said the teach-ins envolved from students staying after class to talk with him, and it was their idea to have the weekly discussions.

“The teach-ins don’t even need me,” Young said. “Other people can run it, but I keep doing it because it’s fun.”

Young published the textbook, “Dissent
in America” when he found that the teaching materials for the class were not sufficient. The textbook has recently been revised and released as a book to the general public.

The “Dissent in America” class is run as a traditional history class. Young said during class he lectures and assigns and grades papers, but at the teach-ins he takes a back seat and tries not to interrupt the discussions.

He said he keeps his speaking to a minimum and lets the students take charge. The first teach-ins were run by students and some still are today. More than half of the discussions are lead by professors,
and Young usually only leads about once a semester.

He said he prefers to remain in the background, though he will occasionally intervene and reel the students in if the discussion goes too far off-topic.

“What I think is successful about the teach-in is that it isn’t a course. Students aren’t getting a grade, and they can say whatever they want,” Young said.

According to Young, the Palestine-Israel
teach-ins have created the most arguments
and discussions. “The point of the teach-in is discussion.

People learn better when you’re explaining a stand or a point instead of a professor speaking like the pope or something,”
Young said.

Young said that there are many teach-in regulars who have never taken a class with him, but are interested in the issues and want to be involved.

Some of the upcoming teach-in topics
include global warming and the AIDS epidemic in Africa. Teach-ins are held every Friday at 3:30 p.m. in Gladfelter hall room 764.

LeAnne Matlach can be reached at leanne.matlach@temple.edu.

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