The past 2 months I have been slowing down a bit on reading new research because too much work. Sorry for that. This study raises some interesting questions related to what people on the old continent would describe as pedagogy. Does a teacher need to political neutral in the classroom or not, and is being neutral an effective teaching tactic. Teaching in Trump times made teachers feeling immense pressure from school leaders and families to respond in a certain way — or not at all — in their classrooms.
From the press release:
“There were many teachers who said they wanted to talk with students about the election and related issues but were also afraid of backlash,” said Dunn, who conducted the nationwide questionnaire of more than 700 educators.
In the survey, some teachers said they felt election-related topics weren’t appropriate in schools or weren’t relevant to their subject. Others felt they shouldn’t, or couldn’t, share their political affiliations or feelings.
But the idea of neutrality, as this research indicates, doesn’t always work in schools, because “education is inherently political,” Dunn said.
She and her co-researchers argue that by remaining neutral, teachers are enacting the opposite of neutrality by “choosing to maintain the status quo and further marginalizing certain groups.”
Dunn and her colleagues, Hannah Carson Baggett of Auburn University and Beth Sondel of the University of Pittsburgh, say the election is just one example of a renewed call for all teachers to consider the ethics of neutrality in the classroom.
“Midterm voting and the impact of results are an opportunity for them to say, ‘I’m not going to be neutral,'” Dunn said. “Knowing what neutrality means, and how it can be a disservice to students and to themselves, teachers can think about how to adapt their curriculum leading up to and after the midterms and other major events.”
Dunn said many educators and administrators believe that because something is happening “outside of school,” it isn’t relevant in the classroom. But that mentality is an injustice, she argues, and undermines the fact that the classroom is part of the real world.
In a separate study using the same data, the scholars studied what teachers did – or didn’t do – in the days after the election. In that study, teachers reported their students were experiencing political trauma.
Abstract of the study:
Guided by perspectives on the sociopolitical contexts of schooling, control of teachers’ curriculum and instruction, and teaching of elections, we use findings from a national questionnaire to explore the contexts that shaped teachers’ pedagogical decision making following the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Our findings reveal that classroom, school, district, state, and national contexts often manifested in pressure from colleagues, parents, the administration, the district, and the public. This pressure is reflective of the lack of trust, autonomy, and professionalism for teachers in our current climate. The days immediately following the election revealed new understandings about teachers’ views on neutrality, opportunities for agency within control of teachers’ work, and a call for justice-oriented pedagogy. Implications for teacher education, practice, and research are discussed.