Teachers’ Political Opinions Should Have No Place in Classroom Discourse

BY NATHAN BAKER staff writer

As the only adult in the room, the teacher is admired by students because they have the adult experience we lack. That is why teachers have so much influence in helping to formulate student’s viewpoints on the significant issues in the world. This is where things get subjective.

The question that arises from this realization is to what extent should their influence be utilized? More specifically, should teachers be allowed to disclose their political views in their curriculums and everyday conversations with their students? Though a difficult question, I have concluded that the answer must be no.

Firstly, if we allow such a phenomenon to occur, teachers will take advantage of the circumstances. Their bias will become standard in classroom operations, and facts will be stripped of all value. During the election season, students throughout the country are instructed to study the presidential debates. Usually students are told to watch the debate and participate in a class discussion the next day. There are many paths the discussion can take. However, one path is detrimental to students. If a discussion with loads of bias is permitted, students will not understand the importance of facts. In fact, students may not even learn what a real truth is. This is because of the teacher, who plays the role of moderator during this discussion. If their political ties influence the discussion, only those who agree with the teacher will receive the positive reinforcement that should be directed towards all students who conduct themselves in a civilized manner. Additionally, being a good debater has absolutely nothing to do with the argument at hand. Discussing and debating in a correct, civilized manner is what the teacher should be encouraging. It should not be about the teacher striving to manipulate the minds of these students. Teaching is not persuading.

Next, one must think about things from a legal perspective. If the teacher is to represent the school district, a government entity, then how could they possibly have the right to influence young minds in such a way? The government is meant to represent the mindsets of the people, not the other way around. There is great reason to assume that such actions, which I have personally experienced in Berkeley High classrooms, could be illegal. Laws exist for a reason.

Finally, we arrive to an essential American value, which is the importance of the independent individual. In a world where teachers are permitted to speak their political minds during class time, their students will only suffer the severe consequences of lacking the skill to think independently. Rather than using deep critical thinking and thorough understanding to formulate ideas, students will simply cite their teachers. Their very livelihood will be a reiteration of their teacher’s ideas. Additionally, creativity will enter the realm of extinction. This is because everyone will begin to think alike. Our free society will collapse, and the results are too catastrophic to predict.

In conclusion, allowing teachers to voice their political views at will only hurt the very students to whom they wish to benefit. Facts will be destroyed by bias and independence will be lost. A society in which this occurs will be oppressive. Conversely, if teachers encourage students to form their own ideas by informing them of the value of understanding both sides and moderating discussions from the middle of any argument, our society will thrive. That is why the political views of the instructor have no place in school.  Teachers must strive to help students learn how to think, not what to think.