I don’t think that my job as a teacher is to give students “facts” for them to evaluate; more likely, my job is to teach them how historically variable frameworks of understanding both make facts come into existence and make evaluation of such facts possible. This would be easier, perhaps, if they did not come into my course with deeply sedimented frameworks of understanding and deeply habituated thought practices.
Phrases like “our Savior” have no place in an academic paper (unless they’re being quoted), but they inevitably pop up given (my) students’ habitus. Such academic errors cannot be fixed by giving students new facts. On the contrary, instructors must help students develop academic habits, through a process of counter-socialization, so to speak.
Pierre Bourdieu has gotten inordinate mileage out of a continual commentary on phrases such as “sit up straight,” and with good reason. Our task, as instructors, is perhaps not primarily cognitive but habitual; perhaps an academic semester is best understood as 14 to 16 weeks of saying “sit up straight academically.”
Reminding myself of this helps me avoid frustration when students don’t “get it” at first—no one can develop good academic habits immediately, any more than one could learn how to play piano by simply reading and understanding a book about piano playing.