Politics should be a conversation in classrooms
By SARAH CHUN
Many high school students tend to complain about their teachers expressing their political opinion. But, theoretically, is there anything actually wrong with discussing politics? Perhaps there does not have to be. This is where our educators’ role become vital.
In an era of large taboo on political topics, teachers should take advantage and incorporate politics into their lessons to a certain degree, while understanding where to draw the line.
Especially in a history or an English class, discussions about our country and politics are beneficial towards the students’ education. Lesson plans incorporating politics teach students about their country, society and pressing matters.
However, teachers should not just openly express their personal views on political matters. The problem is not the fact that teachers are expressing their political views, but that teachers are influencing opinions based on their personal biased standpoints. Speaking from just one standpoint creates a bias in the students’ education, because they are being largely exposed to a single perception of society, rather than learning about different perspectives. It is not up to the teacher to shape his or her students’ opinion, but to teach them how to have one.
What teachers should do is partially abandon their political biases in the classroom, take a step back and try to talk to the students about politics with a more neutral standpoint. This would be much more constructive than completely avoiding the topic.
For example, in conducting the class with an emphasis on politics, ranting about how certain political leaders are better than others, how one political party is inferior to another, etc. is just force-feeding students a certain opinion.
What a teacher can do is mediate a civilized, Socratic Seminar style discussion about different aspects of a political topic. Real life examples make students more interested in a topic, so politics are a good way to encourage reason-backed opinions, which grow critical thinking skills. Alternately, the teacher can print two different documents from sources of opposing political views, and have the students analyze and compare and contrast the two items.
After all, there should not be a taboo on political topics in the first place. In a society where everything must be spoken on with caution and can be scrutinized, it is easy for people to want to simply avoid politics.
However, this is just putting a bandage on the wound. Political matters are imminent whether or not they are being discussed in the classroom, so educating our students on it will be reap more benefits than drawbacks. Today’s high schoolers will one day grow up and be our nation’s leaders. If our youth is taught how to form their own opinions and learn how to properly assert their views, there will be an improvement in society. Classes will no longer have to avoid discussing political topics just because it might offend somebody and therefore miss an educational opportunity. This process begins with our education system.
With the chaos occurring within our country and the world, it would be a wasted opportunity to not use this to our advantage. After all, aren’t teachers here to give the best education to our students?