April 2004 (v6 i5)
Shirking responsibility since 1997
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Talking Heads brought up excessively in lectures
Government professor "takes it too far"
by Kathryn Edwards, Staff Writer

And you will find yourself dozing off in class. And you
will ask yourself, "How did I get here?" Same as it
ever was! Same as it ever was!
CAMPUS — Government professor Alan Martin prides himself on relating lecture material for his U.S. Foreign Policy class to the '80s New Wave band the Talking Heads. From conflict in the Middle East to the inner workings of the White House, nothing escapes reference to Martin's favorite group, say students in the class.

"At first I thought it was a passing thing," said sophomore Brian Keller. "Like, maybe he got a box set for Christmas so his interest was piqued, and that's why he kept bringing it up. I really didn't think it would last all semester."

Martin explains that his motives are purely educational.

"With a band as intelligent as the Talking Heads - who really have such a diverse discography and song repertoire covering a variety of topics - I found it easy to use as a means of relating government to my students. I think it's easier for them to learn if I can connect the material to something remotely cool."

Martin notably used the Talking Heads to highlight the ideological differences between the United States and the United Kingdom, which have resulted in two very different approaches to solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"The two countries fundamentally have the same goal, but they approach it differently because they have opposing priorities. It's like with the Talking Heads - the band did well in America and England, but with different albums. So think of the peace process as having two methods: the Remain in Light approach and the Speaking in Tongues approach." The students in Martin's class have learned to embrace his quirky teaching method, and a few have even begun listening to the Talking Heads.

"It keeps the class interesting," said freshman Kristin Meyers. "And I'm learning more about New Wave than I ever thought possible. Sometimes I feel like instead of referencing the Talking Heads to help us learn about government, he's referencing government to help us learn about the Talking Heads."

There are some students, however, who feel that relating government to the Talking Heads does not help them learn. After Martin tried to explain the relationship between Karl Rove and the president by comparing it to the collaboration of David Byrne and producer Brian Eno, junior Kyle Jacobs only felt more confused.

"I don't know who those people are. And what kind of last name is Eno? I was so confused that I completely messed up on the test because I thought Eno was the White House guy and Rove was the producer, and I had it all wrong in my notes, and then of course Eno wasn't in the book."

Despite occasional confusion, most students agree that getting extra credit for watching the David Byrne movie True Stories is an undeniable benefit.
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