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The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Teaching comes from more than a book

By Aaron Zundel

The Louisville Courier Journal reported on Tuesday that Dan Holden, a seventh grade social studies teacher at Stuart Middle School, was suspended after burning American flags in his classroom. Lauren Roberts, a spokeswoman for the district, said that after talking with Holden, she believes the burnings were not politically motivated.

According to The Journal, Holden burned two flags in two separate classes while teaching a lesson on free speech. Afterward, he asked his students to write a response paper about their feelings on the matter and also encouraged them to speak to their parents about it.

Predictably, the parents freaked out.

Originally, I, too, was pissed when I heard Dan Holden burned flags in a classroom full of seventh graders. It just so happens that I think the American flag is one of the great symbols of our country, and to flamb it is an obscenity. As such, I wanted the man’s ass in a sling.

Then I thought about what exactly Holden’s goals were in attempting such a risky lesson. Surely he must have known there would have been consequences? After examining the situation a little closer, I came to understand the true motivation behind Holden’s actions: The man wanted his students to think, and to that end I agree with him.

In a country where people take just about everything they have for granted, I’m willing to bet that none of the kids in that class will forget the lesson they learned that day.

That’s not to say, however, that I believe Holden’s intentions are an excuse for his questionable methodology or that he should get off scot-free. Burning the flag in front of a bunch of impressionable students IS inappropriate. But suspending the man from his classroom? Come on. Give the guy a written reprimand and be done with it.

I can honestly say right now that throughout my education, from kindergarten through college, the number of instructors who’ve put forth the effort to teach more than the contents of their textbook can be counted on one hand. In fact, if every teacher out there matched Holden’s intentions, it’s my personal belief that students today might care about more than whom Paris Hilton is taping with sex in the dark.

True, Holden’s flag-torching still makes me mad, and had I been the instructor, I would have found another way of demonstrating the principle of free speech, but I think it ironic that-in a society where people shriek about the rotten quality of public education-a teacher who tries to stretch the minds of his students gets crucified.

Indeed, when public education is becoming more of a joke than an institution, teachers like Dan Holden should be valued for their commitment, not harshly disciplined whenever they put a toe over the line.

Aaron Zundel

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