Trump in the interpersonal communication classroom
Editor of the Reformer:
This morning I am taking a few minutes to write this letter, as I make my final preparations to push off on my 24th year of teaching communications to college students. This is an election year, an election year fraught with controversy, and I am finding myself wondering how to navigate the class discussions when a student might ask if Donald Trump is a model of effective communication. Yesterday, one of my colleagues from another university, posed the same query in a list serve of which I am a member. I know that I am not the only communications professor anxious about dealing with the elections.
For the last five years, the core of my work has been teaching interpersonal communications. In this class, one of the main topics is civility. As we discuss civility, how will my students react, as they consider the uncivil words that have been emanating from the electoral process? Will students raise their hand and cite Trump's behavior, as the model and his successes, as the reason that civility should be abandoned? I hope not, but if they do, I am prepared to remain neutral and to explain that civility is a core of effective communication. I will use scholarly sources to back up my premise. I will not persuade my students to vote for one candidate or the other, but I will encourage them to exercise their right to vote.
In the end, if Hillary Clinton wins, the number of votes by which she wins will support the theories that civility is an important communication tool. Civility trumps incivility.
Nathalie Crocker, Westminster West, Aug. 28