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Do politics have a place in the classroom?

Malika Negi '19, Staff Writer

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The classroom is an environment for learning, therefore it is important that politics be discussed. However, the teacher should not impose their own personal views on their students, but instead should create an environment in which students can discuss politics in a bias free environment. Students should be able to discuss how politics affect daily life. The purpose of school is to learn, so politics should be welcome in the classroom for the purpose of learning.

Mrs. Venezio, Social Issues teacher at Bernards, agrees with this statement. As a teacher she said she has to “present both sides of the argument, present just the information. Sometimes play devil’s advocate, sometimes throw out questions so it forces you to put yourself in the other point of view.” Continuing, she said she has “to put her own opinions aside, which is not always easy…especially if something crazy happens.”

Here at Bernards High, students have a strong opinions towards the discussion of politics within the classroom. Mackenzie Stiles, a sophomore at BHS, states “Politics should be left out of the classroom unless the teachers are going to be unbiased about it. If it’s relevant to what we are learning, we shouldn’t discuss it in the classroom.”

Some students feel that politics should be left out of the classroom completely. Sophomore Adrienne Orlic said that, “Unless it’s a politics class, politics has no place being discussed in a classroom.” Much of her opinion stems from the vitriolic state within our country regarding politics. “Especially current politics today, I am scared to share my opinion because people get so heated and angry that they are so fast to judge and knock it down, that they don’t realize you should share your opinions in a respectful way,” Orlic said.

Unless you are taking an explicitly political course, the teacher does not have the right to express his or her political opinions in class. This is important to keep in mind, even though oftentimes it seems inevitable. Because it is difficult to discuss politics in an unbiased nature, incidents sometimes occur. For example, you might emphasize the wrongdoings of the Democrats more than the Republicans or vise versa. However, despite such tendencies it is important to remain neutral on subjects, especially when it is difficult to.

Sophomore at BHS, Natalia Youssef, states “I think it’s good to expand our perspective but teachers need to be careful about imposing their own opinions.” Just as Caroline Sullivan, also a sophomore, thinks “politics can be discussed as long as political views are not.”

On the topic of having a politically based required course, such as Social Issues, Mrs. Venezio said, “There used to be a civics class, what is your government, what is your role in government etc. I think it should be required…we all need to know how the government works.”

Children being taught in schools will someday become adults, and because of this it is important for them to learn how the government works within our country and other countries. This is why it is important to have an unbiased, open dialogue about politics.

Learning about politics and our modern government is essential to accessing the world and addressing problems. Therefore, students and teachers should be granted the right to have an open dialogue regarding such subjects- one free of bias, and one encouraging of gaining perspective.

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Do politics have a place in the classroom?