8

votes

How can I respectfully challenge what I am taught??????

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created November 01, 2011 at 10:39 PM

I am a nutrition student at University and I find most of my profs are preaching the classic SAD diet, which is to be expected...but when I try to challenge them they just brush my questions, statements and scientific research off. One of my profs literally told me yesterday "just memorize it, that's what will be on the test." This is more of a rant than anything, but it is getting frustrating. Isn't University supposed to be a place to challenge what we are taught??? I am also looking for some good/paleo friendly masters programs to apply to next year, particularly in Canada. If anyone has any suggestions?

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on November 02, 2011
at 06:48 PM

You know who? Voldemort has taken over our schools!

4ec0fe4b4aab327f7efa2dfb06b032ff

(5145)

on November 02, 2011
at 05:29 PM

No, I don't know who.

24df4e0d0e7ce98963d4641fae1a60e5

on November 02, 2011
at 04:41 PM

"No, sarah they do not teach independent thought nor do they promote it in much of any school ever." I tried to flesh out some thoughts from the other side in my answer. It's impossible in your basic "facts is facts" level class to engage contrarian views. Nor is that really the place for this. Ideally "theory" would be presented properly as such and not as fact, but that's another issue. For example when I learned certain things in my 80's bio classes they were presented as "this is the prevailing theory, here are alternates". Even an assignment to look at alternates would be futile!

F1b39d4f620876330312f4925bd51900

(4090)

on November 02, 2011
at 03:42 PM

I totally agree! its important to learn the "other" side too! Start collecting your counter argument studies!

4053633587abf4b09c637f307ca8b2c6

(261)

on November 02, 2011
at 02:53 PM

Thank you for giving a teachers perspective. Very interesting, I never thought of it this way.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on November 02, 2011
at 02:53 PM

You're earning an undergraduate degree. It's essentially a sequel to high school, rote memorization is key. Sad, I know.

324bf94d3d6f9322d6e4dba4becfaab1

on November 02, 2011
at 02:52 PM

Without preaching too much politics on PaleoHacks, schools were a place to challenge ideas until you-know-who started taking over public education. You just have to make a choice: Do you want to stand up for what's right and take whatever punishment they give you, or to fall in line and do what they tell you to get your grade? There's really no way to predict what they'll do. SAD diet activists aren't usually as vicious as vegetarian/vegan activists, but you never know. If you do try to stand up to them then prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on November 02, 2011
at 01:50 PM

I listened to The Doors in the day. While I respect Morrison for his rage against the machine(getting fired from the Whiskey for profanity especially) I have more respect for Neil Young: "Some get stoned, some get strange, sooner or later it all gets real. WALK ON."

Medium avatar

(10611)

on November 02, 2011
at 01:45 PM

I would have thought you would be learning about the SCD of Molson, smokies, Timmies and poutine. But no matter. Stand and take it. You'll be paid for your advice after you graduate, and for now that comes first.

Eecc48184707bc26bce631485b5b7e34

(4764)

on November 02, 2011
at 01:24 PM

Save it for papers and presentations. In that format, you'll have more of an opportunity to dig into the literature and deconstruct the bad science.

4053633587abf4b09c637f307ca8b2c6

(261)

on November 02, 2011
at 12:50 PM

Biochemistry is my favorite class!! :)

Cc7381bd787721575ea9198048132adb

(5541)

on November 02, 2011
at 03:39 AM

Totally agree, which is why we have a hard road ahead of us. The standard MS->RD curriculum is designed for people to work in hospitals so that they can teach the food pyramid, sorry, "My Plate" to as many sick people as possible. It's pretty entertaining to see the other future RD's I'm in school with squirm when we talk about the biochemistry of nutrition, because they have no idea what in the hell my professor is talking about. Great answer. +10 if I could.

41dfb1a4fecb38d24075ff52f13ccb28

on November 02, 2011
at 03:05 AM

This is what stopped me from getting into the nutrition/medical/health field. I know I just do not have the personality to "shut up, memorize and don't challenge" to survive the degree program. I tip my hat to you for doing what I know I have no chance of doing. I hope you get through it and change the world.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on November 01, 2011
at 10:43 PM

This is important--challenge all you want AFTER you have your final grade from the class but only IF you don't expect to have that prof ever again. There are times and there are times ...

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8 Answers

9
3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on November 01, 2011
at 11:02 PM

No, sarah they do not teach independent thought nor do they promote it in much of any school ever. You are expected to follow the status quo. Don't stand out or face getting pounded down. Do you listen to The Doors?

School does have the attribute of teaching what has already been discovered and discussed. From there you do have a better base of making informed decisions in the future. Try to look at it as a history lesson more than anything.

24df4e0d0e7ce98963d4641fae1a60e5

on November 02, 2011
at 04:41 PM

"No, sarah they do not teach independent thought nor do they promote it in much of any school ever." I tried to flesh out some thoughts from the other side in my answer. It's impossible in your basic "facts is facts" level class to engage contrarian views. Nor is that really the place for this. Ideally "theory" would be presented properly as such and not as fact, but that's another issue. For example when I learned certain things in my 80's bio classes they were presented as "this is the prevailing theory, here are alternates". Even an assignment to look at alternates would be futile!

Medium avatar

(10611)

on November 02, 2011
at 01:50 PM

I listened to The Doors in the day. While I respect Morrison for his rage against the machine(getting fired from the Whiskey for profanity especially) I have more respect for Neil Young: "Some get stoned, some get strange, sooner or later it all gets real. WALK ON."

8
24df4e0d0e7ce98963d4641fae1a60e5

on November 02, 2011
at 02:32 PM

I see a lot of folks above have basically said what I was going to, but I'm going to say it anyway as I'm a college adjunct prof in my spare time (grin). You have to understand a few things about teaching that may or may not pertain to your current professor.

  1. They may have input into the syllabus and textbook selection, but often times these are established by committee or other senior faculty member and the institution's accreditation (reviewed periodically) depends on adherence to this. Also, when accred is reviewed it is quite an undertaking and the oversight will include examples of student work, exams and assignments, etc. They don't follow the program and there could be hell to pay (and if they're not tenured ...)

  2. As pertains to the textbook from #1, as an adjunct this is a huge issue for me. In the past few years the textbooks used for the courses I regularly teach have been changed up on me and not for the better. The new ones are horrible. I do provide lots of supplementary handouts, but it's a balancing act, especially with the cost of texts these days. If I don't use the text enough students will complain for being made to buy it ... but to use a text with obvious errors and political agendas woven in w/o correcting things is tricky indeed.

  3. There's never enough lecture time from where I stand, lectures are never short enough from where most students sit. In order to get through even 80% of the proposed syllabus these days I have to severely limit student feedback, questions, etc. In an ideal world this wouldn't be so, but to your prof, your contrarian "input" is likely seen as disruptive. There's just not room in most classes of an introductory undergrad nature for dissent, critical thinking, challenging. It's difficult enough to convey the basics w/o being challenged. That's not ideal, and I try very hard not to pass along what I consider overtly erroneous concepts, but it can happen (luckily there's not much controversial in the subjects I teach).

  4. Lastly, somewhat along the lines of #3, teaching these days is all about the syllabus, expectations, etc. Sometimes my syllabi are 3 pages in length. Why? Because in the interests of "fairness" we're supposed to evaluate everything equally. This means if you provide a reasonable answer to a problem but it's not what was taught, the prof would not be fair to award you credit for a wrong answer. If I tell my students they are responsible to know that A causes B, and some student challenges me about C also causing B, this discussion confuses things. Now the other students do not want to be held accountable for this C thing, and if C is not going to be on the test, why are we wasting time on it?

Get the letters ... then set out to change the world!

4053633587abf4b09c637f307ca8b2c6

(261)

on November 02, 2011
at 02:53 PM

Thank you for giving a teachers perspective. Very interesting, I never thought of it this way.

5
Cc7381bd787721575ea9198048132adb

on November 01, 2011
at 10:47 PM

I'm in the same boat, pursuing my M.S. in Nutrition and certification as a RD after that.

Fighting with professors is a lost cause and will make school that much more painful.

Take what you're being taught and realize it's going to be beneficial to know how "the other side" is thinking. I tell my professors I have Celiac's and keep my mouth shut when my obese professors praise vegetarian diets.

It's going to be a tough ride but very worth it in the end when we can get paid to be advocates of real food.

F1b39d4f620876330312f4925bd51900

(4090)

on November 02, 2011
at 03:42 PM

I totally agree! its important to learn the "other" side too! Start collecting your counter argument studies!

5
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on November 01, 2011
at 10:46 PM

Honestly, do whatever it takes to get a good grade, don't argue. Going to class is your job, you're just there to one day make money, the material as we know is kinda just, "bologna!" You don't want to look odd by preaching Paleo even if it's correct. I'm in school and so much if I took seriously I felt like I would have no common sense left. I would say focus on keeping your common sense about what knowledge is and just memorize what you need to go get a decent grade.

3
64433a05384cd9717c1aa6bf7e98b661

(15236)

on November 02, 2011
at 02:56 AM

I'm in the same boat as nutritionator, albeit with a less catchy name.

I find that if you focus the most on the biochemistry and mechanisms of what happens, you can learn a lot which can be applied to why we make certain dietary recommendations.

Even though I'm pursuing the RD as well, I don't think many people respect RDs very much. Probably because there is generally a very poor understanding by RDs of what's going on under the hood. I think this is a result of the programs that place way too much emphasis on institutional food service and other non chemistry types of things.

4053633587abf4b09c637f307ca8b2c6

(261)

on November 02, 2011
at 12:50 PM

Biochemistry is my favorite class!! :)

Cc7381bd787721575ea9198048132adb

(5541)

on November 02, 2011
at 03:39 AM

Totally agree, which is why we have a hard road ahead of us. The standard MS->RD curriculum is designed for people to work in hospitals so that they can teach the food pyramid, sorry, "My Plate" to as many sick people as possible. It's pretty entertaining to see the other future RD's I'm in school with squirm when we talk about the biochemistry of nutrition, because they have no idea what in the hell my professor is talking about. Great answer. +10 if I could.

2
B9cc28905ec54389c47cde031d709703

on November 02, 2011
at 01:49 PM

There was a saying when I was in the military: Shut up and color.

Sometimes you do what you have to do. At the end of your education, if you still have any spirit left, you can use that to change the world. Until then though do what you have to do to pass, otherwise it will be a rough and bumpy ride. The best thing you can do is to write good open ended papers that present evidence to challenge the current hypothesis and to ask honest questions that challenge both the teacher and students to think. Also don't forget that most people in your class don't care, most people get their education to get better jobs not to change the world. Also realize that's it not the conclusions that people draw it's a fundamental flaw in thinking that needs to be changed which led to the current standard. If your goal is just to change what is accepted fact then it's no better than what we already have and you are just as guilty as the rest of wanting to make new facts to memorize even if the results are better. Often times just asking thought provoking questions is enough to make people realize how idiotic most accepted nutritional facts are. Change the way people draw conclusions and that is the first step to long term meaningful change...

1
Medium avatar

on November 02, 2011
at 03:54 PM

You are dealing with a classic paradigm war. What you consider valid data is not seen as persuasive because it is not seen as relevant or even valid. Galileo invited the priests to look through his telescope and they refused because there was no way, whatever, any circumstances, that anything they might view would or could contradict their established "knowledge" (beliefs based on the supposed inerrancy of beliefs repeated for a very long time, considered valid because written down in a Book considered beyond doubt; inscrutable).

But let's not get too far afield. What should you do as a student. If this coursework is essential to your graduation, I suggest you welcome the opportunity to do what the instructor recommends, namely memorize the course catechism. Consider this an excellent chance to get thoroughly steeped in mainstream (Neolithic) nutrition. Meanwhile, consider your own studies in Paleo, diligently. Most of all, avoid the temptation to imagine there is any amount of valid data that can or will change the minds of your grade-wielding professorial high priests. Keep your wits about you, take good notes not only as to what they present in class as data but also as to their demeanor, tone, and tenor. In short, consider this a great venue for learning about the power of ideology over evidence.

Alternatively, you can choose the route of Sisyphus, holding fast to your (futile, if intellectually honest) ground, and being marginalized as a goofball in the eyes of your peers. Pushing heavy rocks up a hill can be a good workout, but it comes with a high risk of cortisol overload.

0
4053633587abf4b09c637f307ca8b2c6

(261)

on November 02, 2011
at 01:04 PM

P.S. I am so glad to see how many paleo new RD's there are out there! The future is looking brighter already! :)

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