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.