Do Personal Political Opinions Belong in School?

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of EduMatch.


Okay, let’s be real here. There are times that personal opinions do find a way into the classroom and even sometimes in teaching. It is human nature to want to share thoughts and opinions with our students. But when does offering personal anecdotes overstep political correctness?


In my opinion, teachers should not be offering their own political views on current events. As educators, we steer our students in the direction of learning and research. No matter what your beliefs are, we cannot encourage students to join our ranks. This includes stating your own political side. My students never were able to tell which side I am affiliated with because I was able to present both sides without bias. When researching, discussing material, or even debating in class, I was able to offer a view on both sides. I even had several students come to me and say, “I tried to figure out which side you are on but I can never tell because you were so objective.” That is the goal: to be objective.


It is not hard to be an objective voice in the classroom or even on social media where students can see posts. We don’t want our students to go home and say my teacher believes in this and so should I. Even before reading Quinn Rollins’s chapter, “Stop Pushing Your Own Political Views” in the 100 No-Nonsense Things That All Teachers Should Stop Doing,” (Jetter, 2021), I firmly believe that this needs to happen more now than ever before.

I did not see an issue with political interference among teachers prior to the 2020 election. I am sure there might have been a few teachers that slipped in an opinion or two at some point. But nothing can compare to the atrocity of educators not only stating their political views but encouraging their students to believe it too.


Whether anyone likes it or not, stating that someone is not my president sparks uneasiness in the classroom. I have to admit that I am not fond of every president that is elected, despite my political affiliation. But that does not give me the right to voice my First Amendment right to my students. In fact, “a teacher making this type of statement alienates any student that may be on the side of the president or the president’s political party” (Quinn, 2021). These are wise words spoken. But it is true. If we want to make sure every student feels a part of the class, we must not jeopardize that by creating sides. Reading Quinn’s words resonated with me among other educators. The problem here is that if educators were so adamant about their own political view on social media, I believe it has transferred into the classroom too.


Let’s take a look at this for a moment. When my son was in second grade (during the 2016 election Trump vs. Clinton), the teacher created a mock election for the students to vote. I cannot say what was said or how the lesson was taught as I was not there. But my son came home with pictures of the candidates and told me which one he voted for in class. Now mind you, we did not talk politics in the house or around our son. This was his decision to make. I asked him why he chose one candidate over another. His response was simply, “because I thought the candidate was better from what I learned.” From what I learned these are the words that stuck with me that day.


Because the teacher (as I perceive) did not indicate which candidate she was affiliated with, my son was able to make his own decision based on the facts presented in class. This is what we need to do as teachers. We present a non-biased set of facts for the students to decide. We should not be deciding for them. While we cannot stop students from social media or watching the news, we can stop pushing our own political views in the classroom.

Let them decide.


Source:

Quinn, R. (2021). Stop Pushing Your Own Political Views. In R. Jetter, & R. Coda (Eds), 100 No-Nonsense Things that All Teachers Should Stop Doing (pp. 72-76). Tonawanda, New York: Pushing Boundaries.



About the Author


Kristen Koppers

Twitter: @Mrs_Koppers

Faceboook: Kristen Koppers, author

Website: www.kristenkoppers.wix.com/koppers


Kristen Koppers, M.Ed., NBCT, is a blogger, presenter, self-published author, author, and high school ELA educator as well as an adjunct professor at a local junior college. She is a National Board Certified Teacher and has a Master’s degree in English and a second Master’s degree in Education Administration. Kristen is the author of Differentiated Instruction in the Teacher Profession (2019) and The Perfect Puppy (2020) and has contributed to several publications, including the #100StopSeries.


Differentiated Instruction in the Teaching Profession is an innovative way to use critical thinking skills to create strategies to help all students succeed. This book is for educators of all levels who want to take the next step into differentiating their instruction. You can find Differentiated Instruction in the Teaching Profession and Kristen’s other books on Amazon.



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