Speak up

Teachers should not always stay neutral in class discussions

Matthew Barbato, Opinion Editor

While teachers often feel pressure to be objective, sharing their personal opinions with students during class discussion provokes students in a way that promotes positive discourse.

The rules surrounding teachers sharing their opinions with students at ETHS are fairly loose; it is largely left up to the judgment of the teacher and the way they choose to teach their class.

A teacher’s job is to create dynamic classroom discussions by giving students the tools to be able to converse and debate, and also by creating a safe space in which there is trust among students and with that teacher.

Giving students those tools and creating that trust is necessary for students to be able to form strong arguments and have positive discourse. Once that has been established, teachers provoking their class with their own opinions to get them to think critically is a great way to get them to create their own opinions and arguments.

Over the course of a year, students tend to get a sense for where each of their teachers stands ideologically. As you all know, Evanston is a very liberal place and in turn most of the teachers at ETHS share similar views.

But agreeing or disagreeing with a teacher’s views does not really matter at the end of the day. By sharing what they believe, teachers are prompting you as a student to be able to execute a sound argument.

In the end, the goal is for students to be able to run the discussion among themselves, while the teacher just observes. This tends to occur more towards the end of school years rather than the beginning, because the class has had a year to build up argumentative skills and trust.

A student’s experience in a class relies on the groundwork learning how to argue and discuss, and the environment that the class creates, which includes a teacher’s opinions. The sharing of opinions and the way that it provokes students to think is a positive way to engage a class and create productive discourse. It is imperative that teachers give students the right tools, create a positive, safe environment, and not be afraid to share what they believe with a class.