Teachers & elections

Despite wrapping up a unit on vector addition and gearing up to teach projectile motion, the #1 question I have been dodging in class this past week is “So, who are you/did you vote for?”

My stock answer is no comment.  I don’t say that because I am embarrassed about not voting, but more because I think it gets into dangerous territory when teachers (nominally a government employee) begins espousing political views.

My kids, being pretty smart didn’t let me off the hook that easy, and I responded by telling them that I do respect their intelligence, and that if I were to start raving about supporting any candidate, that virtually all of them would have the sense to ignore me and make up their own minds.  However, I also told them that in some countries, teachers are very intimately associated with the government, and that propaganda is a part of their job.  Being that this is distasteful, I find it uncomfortable to go down that route.  It took a moment to just mention that I thought both candidates were basically fine people, and that based strictly on that criteria, it might rank as one of the few “basically decent human being” elections we have ever had (though that is up for debate as well).

Not surprisingly, the students said “but so-and-so” teacher talks a lot about who they vote for and why we should too.  I just hope that these kids are as smart as I think they are.

And for the record, perhaps in a moment of great hypocrisy, I told all of the 18 year olds to get out and vote (after reminding them two months ago to get registered).  I suppose another duty of a teacher is not to let any potential cynicism of their age bleed off on the kids too soon.  They have every right to develop their cynicism, or not, through age as naturally as any of us.

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One Response to Teachers & elections

  1. Alan P says:

    I agree – I never liked the idea of influencing students in that way. Encourage them to vote, encourage them to make informed decisions, show them how to become informed. Education should be able learning to think for yourself, rather than do what someone tells you.

    Outside the classroom is different – feel free to promote your favorite candidate!

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