Parker Palmer rethinks the norms of what it means to be a professional, writing that we should not aim to be “value-free” to excel in what we love. Following Palmer’s rethinking, I do not think academia should be value-free. I have not mastered it, but as a teacher, I hope to maintain a balance between thinking about what we value as a society and individuals with teaching students what they are expected to know to be professionals in their discipline (at least as it applies in my class).
While some say teachers should not express their personal beliefs in the classroom, I think that this perspective is too black and white. Students are not mere receivers of information, and I am not merely a dispensary; this is what machines do. Rather, we should be open to having conversations with our students about our values, and their values, with the understanding that we are critical thinkers who are emotional and rational. This knowledge is what makes us different from machines, and what I think should define “professional” in teaching.
23 Apr ’18 @ 3:40 pm
Thanks for your post and for your definition of ‘professional’ within the context of teaching. I agree that educators need be aware of values and of the human experience in order to not neglect these variables from the classroom – as they do impact learning.
23 Apr ’18 @ 10:45 pm
Thanks for your post. I agree that teachers (and students) should be free to express their personal beliefs in the classroom, and have open discussions. What they shouldn’t do is to impose their beliefs on the students.
24 Apr ’18 @ 9:37 pm
Some of the teachers I admired most in undergrad had a very strong articulated viewpoint in art, politics, society, yadda yadda. Even those I disagreed with challenged me to think in new ways. I’ve always thought about how much I appreciated them and wondered where I fall on the spectrum of apolitical vs. supercharged, rabble-rouser. This semester I’ve been a little more reserved than I have been in the past for a lot of reasons. A guarded sense of professionalism. A new program. Different kinds of students here. Focusing more on my own work. I need to figure out how to encourage students to explore valid emotional intelligence. I thought the Palmer reading was really interesting.
25 Apr ’18 @ 2:41 pm
I agree; professors should be able to express their personal beliefs in professional situations. Saloumeh also brought up a crucial point that professors should not bring up their own beliefs in order to impose them on others. As you stated, we should be able to have thoughtful conversations to provide a space of personal growth for students and professors.
25 Apr ’18 @ 2:57 pm
Allie, this is awesome! You said all the things I tried to say in my blog post, but then I ended up writing about another topic entirely. I, too, have not mastered the art of sharing my values in settings other than where I find comfort, but I want to. I think part of our responsibility as instructors is to expose students to multiple ways of thinking. We must push them to be the best students possible in our respective subjects, but also to be the best people out in the real world and to respect every person, no matter what. There is definitely a difference in sharing our beliefs with students vs imposing those beliefs on them. I think that with practice, we can learn to share our beliefs and ways of thinking without making them feel forced to think like us. Great post!!!
25 Apr ’18 @ 6:23 pm
I agree with your points here, especially: “Rather, we should be open to having conversations with our students about our values, and their values, with the understanding that we are critical thinkers who are emotional and rational.”
I’m not sure where the attitude or outright fear of having critical discussions on values. (I guess institutionally, there might be pressure to protect oneself from saying the wrong thing). But avoiding discussions with students about values–relevant topics in both profs’ and students’ lives–is a lost opportunity that profs aren’t taking advantage of in the classroom. I think that there is a balance between emotional and rational in classroom settings. And for profs, finding that balance and guiding students to recognize that balance is more of an art than a learned skill.
25 Apr ’18 @ 8:37 pm
Thanks for the post, Allie. I totally agree with you. Educators are different than machines, so we should not behave like machines. We, of course, should express or discuss our thoughts and believes with students. The only critical part here is being respectful to their beliefs and try not to expose our own beliefs to them. Creating a safe environment in the classroom is critical and important most of the time for having that conversation with them for sure.
25 Apr ’18 @ 9:12 pm
Thank you for your post! I also thought that it is hard to say good or not about expressing teacher’s personal beliefs in the classroom. Because it could be different based on different contexts, type of beliefs/topics and type/level of students etc. While we as human we have right to freedom of speech, also an educator we must remember that we should take more responsibility on what you are saying. Because the impact could be stronger than others, particularly on our students.
25 Apr ’18 @ 10:03 pm
Yeah I agree this is an interesting take. We are producers of knowledge and not mechanisms liken a cog and a wheel. Individuals have problematic tendencies but they should be embraced.