Teaching in an Election Year: Seizing Opportunities, Staying Impartial

election-2016Teaching in an Election Year: Seizing Opportunities, Staying Impartial

impartial: (adj) not partial or biased; fair; just

“I have had colleagues over the years who do not believe in pedagogical neutrality when it comes to politics. They believe that their versions of social justice and righteousness are so right and so essential to the future of humanity that their mission is to persuade students to believe with them rather than trust the next generation by teaching them to think for themselves. Though I often agree with their views on the world I disagree with their views about our role as teachers. I am not indifferent to the struggle for justice and the future of humanity. I just don’t believe that encouraging students to echo our opinions is ever beneficial. It is arrogant and it is short-sighted.” – Larry Strauss

Tips for Teachers
1) Remain impartial. Keep your political opinions to yourself. Lead students to discover and form their own opinions.

2) Set the ground rules for students to respect one another in classroom discussions before debates get heated.

3) Have fun playing the devil’s advocate on all sides. Cause students to doubt their opinions so they research and learn how to defend why they believe what they believe.

4) Elections raise controversial issues that may not be age appropriate for Middle Schoolers. Be prepared to steer the conversation/inquiry in the direction of those rich topics that are also appropriate for pre-teens. If you’re not sure, you should probably skip it. Ask your colleagues, admin, and parent community.

5) Teach about democracy, case studies from history, and the process of elections. Don’t miss a huge opportunity that will be on everyone’s hearts and minds.

Impartiality Crucial for Teaching
Must Teachers Be Neutral?
The Teachers Great Challenge: Staying Neutral With Students During a Contentious Election

What are your thoughts about remaining impartial?


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