Theist annoyance in a short course
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16-06-2015, 09:56 AM
Theist annoyance in a short course
Hi all,

I deliver a short course for people on unemployment. To continue receiving benefits, the students are required to attend this 6mth Work Ed. course.

One of the students has this wise-elder persona and gives advice, even when no one asks for it... you know the type? Once or twice each session, this person will find a way to tell us about the certainty of God. I haven't yet informed this person that I'm an atheist and ex-theist, partly because I don't think it's appropriate.

This person has a captive audience, who all have to be there, and is taking inappropriate advantage. I haven't done anything about it yet, mainly because I don't want to derail a session with a debate over God. I'm just about ready to take this person aside and nicely tell them, "It's inappropriate to impose your religious beliefs on the class."

I thought about turning it around and getting this person to imagine being in a class where one member was a Muslim or perhaps an atheist, who regularly made comments about the certainty of their beliefs. But I'm not sure the point would be taken. And as the course facilitator, I have to be careful how I tackle it.

Thoughts? Comments?

Age 57. Ex-Christian of over 35 years. Living in Melbourne Australia. Educator, writer, pilot, drone pilot and solitaire addict. My next sig-line will be more creative. ;-)
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16-06-2015, 11:55 AM (This post was last modified: 16-06-2015 01:18 PM by Tomasia.)
RE: Theist annoyance in a short course
(16-06-2015 09:56 AM)PhantomPilot Wrote:  Hi all,

I deliver a short course for people on unemployment. To continue receiving benefits, the students are required to attend this 6mth Work Ed. course.

One of the students has this wise-elder persona and gives advice, even when no one asks for it... you know the type? Once or twice each session, this person will find a way to tell us about the certainty of God. I haven't yet informed this person that I'm an atheist and ex-theist, partly because I don't think it's appropriate.

This person has a captive audience, who all have to be there, and is taking inappropriate advantage. I haven't done anything about it yet, mainly because I don't want to derail a session with a debate over God. I'm just about ready to take this person aside and nicely tell them, "It's inappropriate to impose your religious beliefs on the class."

I thought about turning it around and getting this person to imagine being in a class where one member was a Muslim or perhaps an atheist, who regularly made comments about the certainty of their beliefs. But I'm not sure the point would be taken. And as the course facilitator, I have to be careful how I tackle it.

Thoughts? Comments?

In what context is he expressing this certainty? Like is he just saying things like, I know God will help me find a job, or make it through this?
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16-06-2015, 11:59 AM
RE: Theist annoyance in a short course
(16-06-2015 09:56 AM)PhantomPilot Wrote:  Hi all,

I deliver a short course for people on unemployment. To continue receiving benefits, the students are required to attend this 6mth Work Ed. course.

One of the students has this wise-elder persona and gives advice, even when no one asks for it... you know the type? Once or twice each session, this person will find a way to tell us about the certainty of God. I haven't yet informed this person that I'm an atheist and ex-theist, partly because I don't think it's appropriate.

This person has a captive audience, who all have to be there, and is taking inappropriate advantage. I haven't done anything about it yet, mainly because I don't want to derail a session with a debate over God. I'm just about ready to take this person aside and nicely tell them, "It's inappropriate to impose your religious beliefs on the class."

I thought about turning it around and getting this person to imagine being in a class where one member was a Muslim or perhaps an atheist, who regularly made comments about the certainty of their beliefs. But I'm not sure the point would be taken. And as the course facilitator, I have to be careful how I tackle it.

Thoughts? Comments?

Approach them in a one-on-one conversation and say that:
1) they aren't the course instructor, please stop acting like it
2) their religious professions are making people uncomfortable, please stop

Being nice is something stupid people do to hedge their bets
-Rick
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16-06-2015, 01:16 PM
RE: Theist annoyance in a short course
The side bar conversation is certainly the route I would take. It would feel great to bury him in his tracks publicly but fighting fire with fire isn't always the best discourse. I would start by understanding what his intentions are with his comments. Is he there to add to the collective discussion or proselytize? If his true intent is for the former then you can approach the separation of religion content by using the other religion scenario you mentioned. If his intent is for the latter, and I'm sure you'll be able to tell, nip it in the bud a little more forcefully.

**Crickets** -- God
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17-06-2015, 12:29 AM
RE: Theist annoyance in a short course
Thanks for the comments... much appreciated.

As for the intention, I think it's more opportunistic than premeditated, but it does come across as pronouncements rather than benign remarks.

Perhaps the side bar would be best.

Is there a Youtube that demonstrates the discomfort and imposition of such people?

Age 57. Ex-Christian of over 35 years. Living in Melbourne Australia. Educator, writer, pilot, drone pilot and solitaire addict. My next sig-line will be more creative. ;-)
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17-06-2015, 03:11 AM
RE: Theist annoyance in a short course
I often have the same problem of the wise old bore.

Some people forget that it's my job to be the wise old bore. Big Grin

Usually the pronouncements or pontifications are short so I let them slide because I can see that no one else takes any notice. If I see others getting listless or agitated or rolling their eyes, I'll wink or smile at those others like it's a shared joke.

If it seems likely to turn into a speech I'll cut them short by thanking them for their contribution and ask if anyone else has other opinions.

Usually the comments are on topic so I can build from them but in your example, it's off topic so it's best to interrupt by saying just that: "OK, thanks for that... now, back to the topic in hand..."

Specifically on religion and god(s), more often than not, I've started it by saying something ever so slightly provocative so before it gets heated, I'll say "oooh! That's very interesting, I'm looking forward to continuing this over lunch."

Wink

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