Image from Ted Eytan, Creative Commons
by Ethan Platt, staff writer
In this day and age there is a lot of political division between opposing parties, which can be seen when teachers share their political opinions while teaching.
Maria Carrillo history teacher Mike Mastin, when asked if he believed if political bias should be taught in school, stated, “I do not think that teachers should push a political agenda. However, I think it is OK that teachers have a political opinion. In the past I have shared who I voted for and why, but I never tell my students until an election is over. All that I try and ask my students when it comes to political opinion is that they inform themselves of the issues and to respect the fact that people can have different opinions and it is OK to disagree but respectfully.”
I agree with this statement. Teaching means giving information to students and letting them decide what is right and wrong. Having no political opinion is impossible, so it stands to reason that the vast majority of teachers would have some sort of political bias in teaching. The difference is how you present it.
Mastin gave an example of two Supreme Court justices, saying, “Supreme Court Justices Scalia and Ginsburg were politically and ideologically on separate ends of the political spectrum, but they were extremely close friends. I feel that my job is not to tell a student how to think. It is my job to encourage them to explore their beliefs.”
The example shows that you can have opposing political opinions and still have a relationship: for example, a good student-teacher relationship despite opposing opinions. It is more about teaching what is true and letting people decide from there.
When asked the same question, history teacher Rob Chandler stated, “I think it’s important to teach about all types of bias, including political bias. We are all human beings, and nobody is perfect. Most people don’t even realize that they have bias. By getting to know ourselves and our own unconscious bias, we can better understand other people and the world around us.”
Although these two answers may seem different, there is definitely common ground. Neither of them believe that one political bias should be pushed. Chandler believes that all political bias should be introduced, whereas Mastin believes that political bias should be added as little as possible. Both seem to agree that there should not be one specific bias as well as that students themselves should decide their bias for themselves. Both arguments are very good, and in the end, I think both are correct.
When Mastin was asked if he believed he teaches with political bias, he stated, “This is a tough question. I try not to teach with political bias. However, I am not sure that one’s political beliefs can be removed completely. I would honestly say that this question would be better asked of my past students.”
Mastin is saying that he does his best to not have political bias, but he does not completely think that it can be removed. When Chandler was asked the same question, he stated, “I think all teachers teach with bias no matter what they think. I try to be aware of my own bias and clearly state when I’m sharing my opinion. I also try to share the other side of the argument and some facts [or] information that could be used to support that stance. Some teachers don’t share their own political beliefs, but I think it’s important to share, but only as your own opinion. Other teachers share their beliefs [or] opinions as ‘facts,’ and that’s the worst approach.”
Chandler seems to have a similar take on this idea believing that you can’t get rid of bias, but it differs where he believes you should share all of the bias so that students have the full information.
As having been a student of both teachers, I would say that both do a very good job of teaching all the facts as well as showing the opposing viewpoints. Both teachers have often thought something and then said something along the lines of “now whether this was right or wrong…well, that’s up to you to decide.” Both teachers take the approach of letting students decide their beliefs. Even though they go about it in different ways, I would say they both have the perfect way of teaching future generations, and more teachers like them are needed in a world filled with bias and agenda-pushing.