Educator's role during times like these

Yesterday a hashtag broke out on Twitter, #EdChatShowUp. Lots of questions about the role of educators during times of political or civil unrest. My question for any of you is, what is your approach? How do you address domestic and international controversies, particularly those that you might have strong convictions about?

Personally I think it’s important to examine our own biases and attempt not to be unreasonably partisan, subjective, or abuse your influence. At the same time, there may be moments when it’s necessary to take a stand for liberty or justice based on objective realities.

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Great topic. What I try to do in my class is to include timely references. I’m generally careful not to take a side but to present issues and allow students to explore their opinions. I help them keep things on-topic and based in logic and fact. I provide them resources as part of my course to contact their local (including tribal if relevant), state, federal representatives; I give them resources to contact the media to hold them accountable if they spot anything not factual or supported.

I focus a lot on making sure they’re not spreading misinformation and are better at spotting it. I make sure they understand they need their content to be formatted properly and without error if they want people in social media sites or letters to take them seriously.


I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately. There are a few different aspects of it, as far as I can see.

First is how you present yourself as an educator to the world and other educators. I’m pretty active on Twitter for largely educational purposes, and except for rare occasions I like to keep politics out of my tweets. I will comment on political conversations on education, but I try to make them centered in educational concerns rather than partisan concerns. For me, staying non-partisan as a publicly employed educator is an important representation of the profession.

Lately, I’ve wanted to be more politically active, as I feel that speaking out is important. For that, I’ve created a second Twitter account that is solely centered on my political views. By having two accounts, I’m hopeful to make things work. We’ll see how it goes.

In terms of classroom practice, I really like Jon’s comments about the importance of teaching an understanding of how to do effective research, to seek for the truth, to communicate with others, etc. I think if education on the whole did a better job at this our county might be a lot less polarized. There are non-partisan principles that every citizen should understand, and I have no problems bring those sorts of conversations and study into the right places in academic work.

I understand this standpoint, but I’m torn. In this environment, with a dangerous, authoritarian demagogue who models his leadership after world despots, even for the sake of professionalism, silence feels like acceptance. At this point I’m increasingly willing to represent my convictions publicly, and I’m more than willing to pay any professional price for it. Multiple accounts is an idea, but to have my primary account be quiet on this stuff right now seems wrong to me. Like I said, though, I do appreciate Mike’s view as well.

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I totally respect this as well, Ben, and I’m torn a bit with how I’ve decided to do it.

One other reason I separated the two accounts is that I’m finding it hard these past couple of weeks to strike a balance between involvement and “the rest of my life.” In addition to my own ravenous news consumption of late, it seems like everywhere I turn I’m faced with politics. I felt like separating the two Twitter accounts was one way to find a better balance.

I ran into this take last night from cartoonist Sandra Boynton and thought of this thread:

I’m puzzled by the idea that I’m suddenly ‘political.’ Ethics are not political. They’re ethics. And in these unsettled and unsettling times, silence is surely just as ‘political’ as non-silence. My work is my work—wry, upbeat, quirky. And it’s uncontroversial, except if you’re adamantly opposed to kindness and/or hippos.

It was in reference to this cartoon she made: