Since time immemorial, the purpose of a classroom has been to train the students in their areas of study, advance knowledge, and inculcate critical thinking skills in the students. For these reasons, the open expression of political and social views by the instructors have been unheard of. However, as the world keeps changing, issues arise that not only affects the students alone but also the instructors themselves. It therefore begs the question, should professors be given the latitude to advocate their views on social and political issues in the classroom. In this paper, I argue that they should be allowed to do so, due to the reasons mentioned below.
To begin with, the major purpose of education is to build citizens intellectually by inducing and encouraging them to think critically. It is such critical thinking that is useful in solving the challenges that are facing the society. These challenges that are facing the society are either political, social, economic, or scientific. It is therefore important that when professors teach the students, they discuss with them the prevailing social and political circumstances with a view to making them appreciate the direction that action should take. According to Soley (4), this cannot be achieved by simply having the professors taking a backstage. They have to participate by making their positions known so as to influence their students towards making better decisions that can impact on the society positively.
Secondly, the purpose of teaching students is to make them independent in terms of their thinking and approach that they take towards solving the problems that societies face. As such, education is meant to mold their ethics, virtues, beliefs and attitudes towards promoting a better society that is at par with the developments in the world. According to Drummond (n.p), to inculcate these virtues and their practice in the students, it is imperative that professors be seen to exercise and implement them. If for example a government is involved in violently exterminating a particular ethnic community through politically-sponsored violence, then it is important that professors make their stances known on the issue so that their students can learn to appreciate independent thinking that is based on facts, reason and logic (Soley 5). Therefore, professors assuming silence in such circumstances would be counterproductive to the goals that education is meant to achieve.
In addition, professors taking stances in hot-button topics and making these stances known to their students, and debating it with them is one way of building a democratic society where divergent opinions are not only cultured and watered but are also respected. When professors debate with their students’ controversial topics such as abortion, terrorism, immigration among other topics that attract different passions, students get to appreciate the value of holding different positions and supporting these positions with facts (Drummond n.p). In a way, the students get to participate in national discourses which can be positively tapped to influence policy. Expecting professors not to express their views in some of these topics, therefore, is to encourage subservience in the whole population that they are meant to guide and mentor.
In conclusion, the purpose of education being to inform, and influence behavior of the students, it is important that professors are given the freedom to participate in inculcating some of these values in an environment where people are free to express their view without fear of reprisal. Policy developers must therefore ensure that the pedagogy employed is that which promotes free expression among students and their professors so as to develop a society that can discuss her controversial topics freely and positively.
Drummond, Steve. “Politics in the Classroom: How Much is too Much?” nprEd, August 6, 2015, https://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2015/08/06/415498760/the-role-of-politics-in-the-classroom
Soley, Mary. “If It’s Controversial, Why Teach It?” Social Education, vol.60, no.1, 1996, 1-25, http://www.socialstudies.org/sites/default/files/publications/se/6001/600101.html