So, I was listening to NPR on the way to work (really, I usually don’t but I just finished listening to a book and the other stations had ads — ugh) and I heard Frank Deford talk about the amount of water that golf courses use. His commentary was not very interesting, but it is here if you want to hear it. What did perk up my ears was when Frank (OK, Mr. Deford) said that 40% of golfers believe that global warming is a myth. After sputtering about those “rich white male morons”, something occurred to me, something that I’ve seen in other contexts and something that we are not working on enough, I don’t think. What is it?
It is how hard it is to learn or accept something if it is in your interest not to. Now, I see it teaching legal research and acquiring the skills that I teach are certainly in the interest of the students, but the subject is dry and the work is hard. The more difficult but not creative the work that I have to teach, the more the students resist learning.
Just imagine if your exalted place in the world and your whole psychology, indeed your whole experience centers around your place as a rich white man. Anything that negatively affects the narrative will be dismissed. We see it all the time when white people protest that they have not benefitted from being white; when in reality the benefits are so all encompassing that we (white people) are usually blind to them.
Well, global warming is the same thing. It is scary, it means major change that might put someone else on top and at the end might even change the golf course.
What we have to do when we work to educate anyone about anything is to see when and where it is in their interest not to learn it and attack at that point. If we accomplish student self-teaching at that point of attack, learning is most likely to occur.
OK, a couple of end points: 1. I know that not all golfers are rich white men, but it is the stereotype and I bet that it’s not too far off. 2. Of course not everyone will learn and, indeed, ignorance is not the reason that all deniers, racists, etc are the way they are. It’s that the ignorant can possibly be taught and change their minds scum will always be scum.