Everyone has opinions. One of the most important things studying history can teach you, I think, is the ability to see other perspectives. Learning about the actions and decisions of others allows you to see things their way. I’ve been able to employ that in the classroom a number of times, especially when discussing current events in Government.
I drew a line. Some teachers do, some don’t, but I decided from the get-go that my opinion would, for the most part, be masked by my teaching. Despite having talked about hyper-controversial issues such as women’s rights to abortion, intervention in Libya, and levying higher taxes on the rich, I’ve maintained a position in the middle – even for the shorter conversations about reducing foreign aid or tuition protests.
But I’m not completely closed off. I’m very open about talking with my students. We’ve also discussed anything and everything. And in these conversations I’ve found a few spots where the line I drew wavers, and I’m not sure if it’s political or not. I have said that Barack Obama is a United States citizen more than once, and I have reprimanded students for using the word “gay” as an insult.
Both of these stances have a hint of liberal in them, but I don’t feel like they are political at all. I believe there is ample proof that our President is qualified for his position, and I think the birther movement’s existence does no good for the country. I think using the word “gay” as an insult is inappropriate since it perpetuates that there is something negative about being homosexual. Those are apolitical opinions to me, they’re about the recognition of facts and a nation’s understanding, better use of semantics and less bullying.
Today was the Day of Silence, a campaign to remain silent in solidarity with and support of GLBTQ youth being harassed and bullied. I participated three times, and I chaired the planning of it in my high school (in actuality, it was a minor job, but one I’m still proud of). I told each and every one of those students today “thank you” and “I’m proud of you.” It wasn’t meant to be political. I don’t think they will, but if anyone tries to say I shouldn’t have done that, I don’t care. Bullying is bullying and it shouldn’t happen.