Education is Political

As this article very nicely points out:

To pretend to be objective, to wave off or deny the politics of teaching and learning, to shrug off our voices because we must do as we are told are all political concessions to those in power who are the ones using their politics to beg for our silence and inaction.

The silent and inactive teacher is molding the silent and inactive student.

These acts are conceding the world to the status quo, conceding our voices and our humanity.

Another irony: That’s not teaching, and that’s not education.

Indoctrination is the result of silent and inactive teachers committed to being compliant.

That does not mean teaching is partisan:

I will concede and even argue that classrooms, teachers, and education in general should avoid being partisan—in that teachers and their classrooms should not be reduced to mere campaigning for a specific political party or candidate. And this, in fact, is what I believe most people mean (especially teachers) when they argue for education not to be political.

Every year in U.S. History there will be that first moment of the year when I mention that Reagan transferred wealth upward or deemed that ketchup was a vegetable, then tie it in with the general screw-the-poor platform of the Republican Party.

I see it in my students’ faces. The moment they think they have figured me out. “Yup, he is a Democrat.”

Then a week later I’ll talk about Clinton making it easier for jobs and money to flow overseas and tie it into the Democratic Party’s same screw-the-poor platform.

Then my students sit there like “double-u, tee, eff?”

By the end of the year my students know not to peg me as anything other than a semi-informed citizen.

It is a little harder to do with my 9th grade Global History class. We will study Judaism and I will say that the Jews gave us all of this great stuff like written legends of their history and values.

They will ask me the insensitive question “are you a Jew?”

Then we will discuss Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity and Islam and I will mention all the “great” things each of them contributed to history.

Then my students sit there like “double-u, tee, eff?”

Teaching certainly is a political act. Part of that means modeling for your students what it means to be informed and caring about what goes on in the world.

One of my 9th graders summed it up recently when she told me: “Mister, I can’t put a label on you.”

Kids have a way of getting it.

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One response to “Education is Political

  1. That’s exactly what a good teacher should do: present their students with varied information and with alternatives and teach them critical thinking and thus broaden their horizons and enabling their critical thinking.

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