Politics in the classroom shouldn’t be taboo

If you teach, you’re likely to be familiar with the story I tell in my recent commentary in the AEJMC Media Ethics Division newsletter about political discussion in the undergraduate classroom. 

Although I frequently emphasize my media ethics classroom is an open forum for all ideas, the current political climate has made “balanced” discussion virtually obsolete. But one day this semester that changed, and it has been a sea change in my classroom. Students began telling sad tales of being shut down in other classes by both students and their professors after they expressed a conservative viewpoint. Conservative students are now enhancing our daily discussion—and teaching the bulk of the (liberal-leaning) students how to manage challenges to their opinions. Philosophy and codes of ethics are important to teach, but learning how to handle people who don’t think like you is a skill best learned in the classroom. The harsh realities of the professional world await to put those skills to the test, and I’d like my students to be ready.

 

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