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Keeping Bias Out of the Classroom

 

"I hope none of you are Republicans."


This is just the most recent of many opinionated phrases educators have casually announced to the class during my time at the University of Florida.


Other phrases from educators commonly included digging at presidential candidates or imposing their religious views on the class. These opinions have varied throughout my education, whether from a Republican or a Democrat, as soon as I entered middle school at just 11 years old. My parents told me one view while my teachers said another, and the media was just chatter in the background- stressful right?

 

Fast forward to my senior year of college when I landed the incredible job of teaching English and vocabulary at a tutoring agency for students struggling in school. My students, whom I met with at least twice a week, were aged from elementary to high school. Our lessons included the usual for this subject- comma rules, grammar and so on. Though we were polite to one another and asked about each other’s weekly plans, one thing remained clear to me throughout my time teaching: it is an educator’s duty to draw clear boundaries between themselves and their students, especially ones surrounding personal topics. Political bias must be accounted for among these boundaries, and the relationship must remain strictly professional.

 

If a student asked a question about a political topic they had heard about, I made a point to describe the denotation of the issue, leaving out any political bias present in my household. The necessary information included the nature of the event, what caused it and who it would affect- no bias necessary. After learning about the issue, my students could discuss it with their parents or do their research, ultimately deciding for themselves if their morals aligned with the policy.


Though I certainly have my own political opinions, my students could never tell which party I belonged to, if any, and it is not ethical for someone in an educator’s role to declare their bias to a classroom.

 

The bottom line is that each child has the right to learn in a safe environment where they don’t have to fear public persecution each time they speak up. During adolescence, students are just coming into their own and are new at learning the ropes of life. All students should be perceived this way, no matter their perceived political affiliation.


Alienating a child for bringing up an opposing point or asking questions in the classroom is both counterintuitive and irresponsible. Peaceful discussion, without targeting students, is how we will move this country forward. I feel disappointed that I even have to write a piece on how teachers should not be putting their students down for their questions and ideas when their job is instrumental in a student's academic motivation.


While others may say remaining neutral or engaging in this type of conversation is unethical, I find it to be the opposite, and my own experience testifies that the most inspiring and fruitful conversation occurs in a space where each person is respectfully heard. However, educators' political affiliations should remain ambiguous in the classroom.


At Our National Conversation (ONC), young people are given just that: a safe place to discuss and learn more about these issues to make waves in our government’s politics. By setting the stage with panel discussions, informative pieces, and other content, ONC has given Gen Z a truly unbiased platform to confide in.


Acknowledgment: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the individual author.

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2 Comments


Greta Norris
Greta Norris
2 days ago

I also had experiences in which my teachers and professors have voiced their own political views. One of my middle school teachers played "ding dong the witch is dead" and danced around our classroom the day after Trump won the presidency over Biden. More recently, some of my professors at Berkeley have taken class time to inform us about the ongoing war in Gaza, or cancel class altogether in favor of attending a rally (which is against school guidelines). I agree with your sentiment that educators should be here to educate us, not impose their own political opinions on young impressionable students. As you mentioned, the push to include Christian ideology in classrooms is a clear violation of how classrooms…

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Masie Zasadny
Masie Zasadny
8 hours ago
Replying to

Thank you for your reply, Greta, and I am sorry you've had those experiences! Many people might think I am talking about basic points of contention such as Creation vs. Evolution, but it is more basic than that- such as the instances you brought up. Why should we have to learn in such an unwelcoming and immature environment?



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