Students Are Highly Motivated in Class? It Must Be a Conspiracy

By LiBrizzi, Marcus | The Christian Science Monitor, April 9, 2002 | Go to article overview

Students Are Highly Motivated in Class? It Must Be a Conspiracy


LiBrizzi, Marcus, The Christian Science Monitor


I have found a way to turn passive undergraduates into active learners.

I watch them become critical thinkers. I see them learn to identify and analyze relationships among diverse aspects of American culture and become skilled in the methods of interdisciplinary study.

My secret: conspiracy theories.

Why study conspiracy theories - usually relegated to the margins of academic life? Because they are, in fact, a defining motif of the American experience. The Puritans brought to these shores a world view that they were God's elect persecuted by agents of a Satanic conspiracy. The Salem Witch Trials, for example, were interpreted through this perspective. The Revolution and founding of our republic are bathed in suspicion against government and how it might, without our vigilance, remove our liberties. We are, by national experience, a people skeptical of authority.

Anti-Masonic conspiracy theories flourished in the 1820s and 1830s, followed by a resurgence of anti-Catholic theories of papal domination that survive today as fears of a "New World Order." Antebellum America trembled over alleged plots of slave revolts. Our fascination with conspiracies is not new. And of course, some conspiracies are real: MK-ULTRA, Watergate, Iran-Contra, and others.

Even far-out conspiracy theories reveal how people make sense of the world. These theories have social functions; they reflect responses to alienation, the feeling of being disconnected from self, society, or the past. In the conspiratorial view, there are no accidents; everything is linked together. The individual who can figure things out also feels empowered. "They may have gotten to the rest of you," this individual reasons, "but at least I know the truth."

All of this makes conspiracy theories a wonderful teaching tool. To the students, exploring them is a "real-world," and therefore valid, exercise. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Students Are Highly Motivated in Class? It Must Be a Conspiracy
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.