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Politics in the Classroom PRO/CON
September 16, 2015
The primary election is just months away, yet I have found few students who are even aware that there is an upcoming election. Unaware of the real issues of today, the students of this generation are clueless of what really goes on in the political world and are instead only interested in the comedy that is Donald Trump. There is no one to blame for this other than the students themselves.
However, teachers could help change this if they would discuss politics openly with their students, without of course, pushing their views on students. Yet, teachers are hesitant to candidly the subject, as politics remain a topic that can be controversial.
This is a mistake. Teachers should feel free to discuss political issues. As citizens of America, they have the right to free speech just like every other person in the country.
High school students should be intelligent enough not to accept their teacher’s opinion as truth on politics. Travis Rother, a civics teacher at Chanhassen High School in Minnesota, provides his students with some of his different political views, but he does it knowing that there won’t be any hard feelings.
“There are those rare instances where things come up and it feels right in the four walls of your classroom and the environment you’ve crafted,” Rother said to the StarTribune in Minnesota. “I’m extremely comfortable that [my students] are not going to decide ‘I’m a Democrat because Mr. Rother’s a Democrat.’”
With this sense of security, teachers should do what they’re paid to do: teach students and inform them about the world around them. Teachers can’t educate children to the fullest potential if they’re being censored on real life political views.
Ultimately, the discussion of political subjects inside a classroom would also bring more awareness of the real world to their students. They would benefit from discussions in the classroom on political matters.
Students are the country’s future voters, so it would be very valuable to have them be well-informed on current political news. The more informed they are, the more capable they’ll be in making decisions when they reach 18. Shouldn’t future voters be when they make their political choices?
All in all, teachers’ First Amendment rights should not cause any turmoil in the classroom if they choose to speak their minds. As facilitators, they can involve students in political conversations, allowing them to gain insight into the world.
With each prominent political issue, students face the responsibility of developing their opinions and learning to argue them. The voices of their teachers are unnecessary and inappropriate during a time when students are just beginning to formulate their own political views.
Despite the fact that it is traditionally frowned upon for teachers to share their political views in the classroom, many still continue to do it. The many conflicts, which are kindled by this kind of behavior, could be easily prevented. It is in everyone’s best interest for teachers to simply refrain from bringing politics into a class discussion.
Part of the job of a teacher is giving students the knowledge necessary for them to form their own opinions, not teaching them a certain way of looking at a topic. A teacher who shares his or her political views not only distracts the students, but also takes away time in which they could be speaking objectively about things relevant to the education of students.
In addition, a classroom is a place of education, a place where students should feel comfortable sharing their views. Should a teacher assert his or her opinions on a political topic, students may be too afraid to voice opinions that challenge those of the teacher for fear of possible consequences. The prospect of creating a bad relationship with a teacher or receiving a lower grade will burden them each time they consider arguing their views in class. This creates an unhealthy environment in the classroom that could very possibly inhibit a student’s future participation and growth.
Additionally, if teachers do not talk about religion in fear of offending a student and their family, then the same can be said for politics.
Meanwhile, a teacher’s job is to teach, not to preach. When they cross the thin line that separates the two, a problem arises. Because teachers are placed in a position of authority in classrooms, students that hardly even understand the political subject at hand are prone to accepting their teacher’s views.
Those who support teachers speaking about their political views in the classroom do so thinking that it will improve the student’s political awareness. However, they are missing a vital point: students will not be sincerely educated in politics, but rather only in the view the teacher is presenting.
For a teacher, sharing political views is a far more personal act than wearing a jersey from a favorite sports team or displaying the banner of a favorite college. Teachers with strong opinions may struggle to separate their opinions from lesson plans, but it is an imperative part of their job. Their personal political views have absolutely no place in the classroom.
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