The class started off as intense just because of my schedule.
The tension increased when I introduced the reading list. My students read The Emperor Jones, W;t, Doubt, Angels in America, Streetcar Named Desire, and Crimes of the Heart. Despite that I told them on day one that modern drama is by its nature reactionary and at times outlandish -- that it remains important because it addressed taboo topics concerning race, sex, and gender -- my students were still shocked to read about graphic gay sex or child molestation.
There were several times during the class that the room got uncomfortable, not because the students said anything incendiary, but because they were discussing possibilities they'd rather not entertain (such as the idea that gender is learned rather than innate). It was an odd experience: though the students were comfortable with each other and with me, just about every play made people shift uneasily in their seats.
Is tension necessary for growth? Have you learned something if you've been introduced to an idea that made you feel a little out of sorts?