Political views in the classroom
As teachers, we obviously play a role in shaping the minds of our students, however we also operate in a world of diverse perspectives and political beliefs, which can sometimes pose challenges in maintaining a neutral stance in the classroom.
With all that’s going on in the world at the moment and current events inevitably spilling into the classroom, how do you foster a classroom environment where students feel comfortable expressing their views, without feeling pressured to adopt or express your own?
Obviously some things are just outright wrong and should be shut down, but specifically with topics that are more divided. We don’t really have a policy on this, so genuinely interested in other perspectives and strategies.
Totally get where you're coming from. It's a tricky balance. I try to set the tone early on that it's cool to have different opinions. I emphasise respect and open-mindedness. I've found framing discussions as a chance to learn from each other, rather than pushing a specific viewpoint, helps. Also, making it clear that it's okay to disagree as long as it's done respectfully.
I usually throw in a few ground rules to keep things civil. What works for me might not work for everyone, but it's been a decent strategy so far.
As a secondary teacher, I don’t shy away from political questions that my students have but I do try to keep it as neutral and fact based as possible. It’s a tricky wire to balance on but I’ve found that when done effectively, it generates really engaging discussions and gives me faith in our future generation. Clear ground rules for debate is a key element of tempering opinions from erupting into arguments.
It is increasingly hard with the people ever changing world we live in! It it is important to give children time to talk and let them share their views! I would suggest using BBC Teach or Picture News as short 10 minute discussions as both websites have photos ans videos to choose from!
At my school we also use Scarf as a PSHE scheme which is very child friendly!
I think also class circle time also builds confidence and in time, leas confident children will speak up!
I've found mixing in interactive activities like role-playing or scenario-based discussions can be a game-changer. It brings out diverse perspectives and keeps the vibe engaging. Plus, it's a great way to instill critical thinking without pushing a specific agenda.