Politics in the Classroom

27 de agosto de 2017

Perhaps, you’ve had a different experience than I have.  Well, of course you have, but let me share mine anyway (“listen to me, I’m a blogger!”).

In the various courses that I’ve taken, I’ve noticed that professors bring politics into the classroom.  They often will (a) make clear their political slant, ask for challenges to the way this bias influences what they teach, and provide a clear structure for discussion (“I am X, Challenge me, Here’s how, and sure, let’s have lunch and you can adore me for being confident and comfortable in my own classroom”), (b) pretend they are apolitical arbitrators of the law, while insidiously infusing politics into what they teach (“Listen, kid, you say that out loud and you’re going to sound like a conservative nutcase in my class”), or (c) really think they are apolitical beings while accidentally expressing their political biases (“Oops, I’m pro-life, but that didn’t come out at all when I put up that picture of a fetus with nails”…)

As a reflection, the professor described in (c) somewhat annoys me, but I feel sort of bad for her for trying to achieve the impossible – a political free zone in the classroom.  The professor described in (b) irks me, because she seems to wish to imbue her politics into the classroom without admitting her agenda.

And, let me gush, but I love professor (a) because no matter what political bias she has, gosh darn it, it’s refreshing to have open communication without pretense, and it allows me to challenge the way I interpret and analyze what I’m learning.  Professor (a) lets me play with counter arguments either in my head or with my hand raised.

I am not proposing that professors should be either this or that way in terms of politics, but I would like to urge professors to start admitting to themselves and to their students that they have political leanings and that this necessarily comes out when they’re teaching.  On top of this, I think it has helped immensely to have professors ask students to challenge them on their political biases, as this creates for a more robust and genuine learning experience.

I don’t have much more to say on this, but I wonder if any of you have views on whether professors ought to keep attempting/pretending to be apolitical, or if it would better serve your ability to learn if they would clearly state their political leanings and open it up for discussion.

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