University of Wisconsin-Madison senior Bex Schulman, a journalism major “with a certificate in gender and women’s studies” unwittingly demonstrated a major problem with school teachers in her Thursday op-ed for the school newspaper, The Daily Cardinal.
The election of Donald Trump gave Bex a “feeling in the pit of [her] stomach” that she “couldn’t seem to shake;” however, when she ponders how her life will be different a year from now, that pit “loosens.”
This is because, you see, Schulman is headed for a two-year stint at a Chicago middle school through Teach For America, and she believes “the classroom is a powerful place for social change”:
Since I have the privilege to attend UW-Madison, I know that to be true from my own experiences. When I think about the social issues I am most passionate about—sexual violence, Black Lives Matter, access to health care, the right to choose—I realize how vital my classrooms were in providing a forum to express autonomy over my beliefs and gain perspective from my peers and educators. This is why I believe education is the most powerful tool at our disposal to disrupt inequity and create opportunity.
As a corps member for the next two years in Chicago, I know I will face mental and emotional roadblocks as I tackle these complex, systemic issues. Despite that, lately I find myself deep on the internet, poring over reflections written by current corps members discussing the vitally important dialogue in their classrooms following this election.
We have an opportunity. There is room to grow from this grief. This is not a perfect, silver lining. But in my middle school classroom next year, I will commit myself to creating opportunity.
But it should not a teacher’s job to indoctrinate students into her ideology — it is her job to enable students to think for themselves.
Although Ms. Schulman is “most passionate” about “the right to choose,” should she not be respectful of students who believe that abortion is wrong … let alone acknowledge that such is a legitimate (political) opinion?
Unfortunately, her middle school audience will not be intellectually prepared to challenge her if she takes the progressive dogma route in her instruction.
Just call me “old school”: My cooperating teacher back in the day — very politically conservative — was adamant, adamant I tell you, that teachers not voice their personal opinions in the classroom. It was an ethically dead wrong thing to do, in his opinion.
During my career, I lived by those words.
Such a doctrine, however, is an anachronism. Teachers now openly advocate — during school hours — for controversial programs, and Donald Trump’s election has really brought out the ideologically unhinged. Of course, college professors aren’t immune.
Given this, Bex hardly bears sole culpability for thinking as she does about using a classroom for her advocacy.