Saturday, September 13, 2008

A Lesson for Teachers

I’m tired of hearing about teachers using their classrooms as their private political soapboxes. The classroom is a place for teaching students, not teaching them what to think. You want a forum to express your views? Great, get a blog. The classroom is not the place for it.

When my students ask me who I’m going to vote for, I tell them that I can’t say because it’s a secret ballot. They press me, and tell me that other teachers tell them who they are voting for, but I will not. I don’t mind discussing the election itself or bare bone facts about the candidates, but no opinions from my end.

Why? I think it’s unethical. These students have expressed to me that they feel if they do not support the candidate that the teacher supports, then the teacher will not like them or will give them a bad grade. I remember having the same fears when I was in school, and students should not be subjected to that. I personally hated that feeling, and would never do that to my students. Besides, I would be prouder of them if they decided on their own, by researching different sources than I would be if they could parrot my views. I already know my views, and I’m confident enough in them that I don’t need a classroom full of students who can regurgitate my opinions. In fact, I would be ashamed. I’m not here to tell people how they should think, but how they should think for themselves.

I do not agree with everything McCain says, but I respect him because he is able to articulate his views and stand by them, knowing people may not like him for doing so, but does it anyway because he feels it's the right thing to do. I hate people who change their views based on who is around them. It shows that they are not very confident with themselves, or do not know themselves very well. They are so focused on pleasing others that they are not true to themselves. That said, I would respect a student more for having their own opinion, even if it was different than my own, than appearing to agree with mine just to get on my good side.

I hear fellow teachers insert their rhetoric into classes and it sickens me. One teacher decided to talk about global warming in his discussion class, but without a discussion. He TOLD them about one side of the issue and didn’t talk about the other. He didn’t see anything wrong with it, because as he said, “There is only one side to discuss”.

And whether it is politics or some silly trivial matter, I don’t need my strong opinions in the classroom. Even if I walked in and said “I think green cars are the best and only the smartest people drive green cars. People who drive purple cars are especially stupid”. It doesn’t matter if I believe it or not, I have no right to say that to them. Of course, they will agree, to get a good grade or just because they think I must know what I’m talking about because I am a teacher. One of them or a friend of theirs might drive a purple car. Or they might develop a horrible prejudice against people who drive purple cars. The consequences of my careless actions are infinite.

Heaven forbid, some kid in there hangs on my every word and takes it for truth. What kind of person am I to use that against them? They are PEOPLE, not pawns to use for my own benefit. I don’t want to make an army of mindless minions. I want to make a group of educated, think-for-yourself people who excel on their own and shoving my opinions down their throats doesn’t accomplish that.

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