The fact that 50 years after Brown v. Board of Education, a college professor would be mystified by objections to his running a segregated classroom speaks volumes about his own intellectual competence. Even more unnerving is Nelson’s statement of his teaching philosophy: “In her book The Peaceable Classroom, Mary Rose O’Reilley poses the question, ‘Can we teach English in such a way that people stop killing each other?’ My primary interest in my life and my teaching is in answering this question with a demonstrable ‘Yes.’ My classes seek to help people discover within themselves the intertwined power of literacy and peace.”
Which raises the question of what he’s actually doing in the classroom. Here, in Nelson’s words, is a typical assignment: “Tell me a story — and then tell me another — and I will tell you mine — and we will sit in the feather circle and listen carefully to each other. And then we will write thank-you notes to each other for gifts given in these stories. And then we will do it again, anew. And we will continue doing this — until we heal ourselves, until everything begins to become properly precious, until we stop killing each other and destroying the Earth, until we care for it all so much that we ache, until we and the world are changed.”
Which raises the further question: Is there no professional accountability at Arizona State University? Since we’re talking about a state school, Arizona voters ought to ask just that question.