The final debate of the semester! And this time, it’s the one that I am participating in! I sport the agree side, whereas Daniel is on the opposite, disagreeing side. The debate topic this time was as follows:
Agree or Disagree: Educators have a responsibility to use technology and social media to promote social justice and fight oppression.
Kind of a doozy of a question, as expected of the final debate of the year! So to start things off, we had our pre-vote.
I had the lead going into the debate, which, secretly, I was grateful for – it did calm my nerves a bit to know that I had people backing me up! And thankfully, I was able to keep those people backing me up throughout the debate, plus add some more into the mix, as the post-vote shows.
So, what did we discuss in the debate? Let’s go into it!
Educators Have a Responsibility: Arguments
My side of the debate was fairly straight forward. In modern society, being as politically driven as it is, it is almost impossible to be politically neutral in the classroom. In the article, ‘Political Neutrality Not An Effective Teaching Tactic, Research Suggests’, they mention how by staying neutral in the classroom, teachers are instead choosing to maintain the status quo and further marginalize certain groups. This is the exact opposite type of thing that educators want to endorse in the classroom, so the logical action is to speak up on these actions. The article also mentions that a majority of teachers are scared of the backlash of speaking up on political issues. The article states:
‘…teachers who feel that politics and elections are happening “outside of school” are in the wrong because their thinking “undermines the fact that the classroom is part of the real world”‘
By ignoring politics in schools, you’re ignoring what drives modern society. Education itself is inherently political, so discussing political issues in classrooms is a natural progression of what goes on in the educational world.
Educators Do Not Have A Responsibility: Arguments
Daniel’s side of the argument, while the opposition to myself, raises some good points. He discusses how being political in the classroom can lead to parental scrutiny, as talked about in the article, ‘Why Parents Don’t Respect Teachers’. Many parents nowadays believe that they know exactly what a teachers job entails – go to work for six hours, go home, get summers off. This plays a huge role in why parents are apt to attack teachers for the things they do in class that they perceive as “wrong” or “different”. This especially includes political discussion. If a parent, of different political belief, were to hear about the opposing views that were being discussed in the classroom, these types of parents would not take to that well, even more so than normal, considering how large of an impact politics has on our everyday lives.
Daniel also discussed how discussing politics in school may not be a good idea, as students are easily influenced. Instead of letting them decide for themselves, by discussing politics in schools, we are influencing them to believe in our own political beliefs instead of forming their own opinions. This can be especially problematic if a teacher is influencing students who may not yet be informed enough to create their own opinions, and may just go along with whatever the teacher says because the teacher is ‘always right’, as (likely) was the case when a 3rd Grade classroom in Ontario organized a protest against the Enbridge pipeline.
While Daniel does bring up a lot of valid points that I think are great to keep into consideration when discussing politics in school, I still think that educators do have a responsibility to promote social justice and fight oppression. Some of the things that Daniel mentioned as negatives I think could be spun into positives. In the case of students being easily influenced, that would make students more likely to become passionate in issues that we can discuss in class. Whether or not they follow the teachers bias can be up to them, based on their own research on the topic that is based in fact. The hope is, however, discussing these issues will let more students get involved in creating a better future where young people are actively participating in politics for a better future for themselves, and the next generations.