Conflict and Complexity: How To Teach Truths In The Classroom.

I’m writing this post in class at Teachers College, after an hour long debate about what the educator’s position toward truth should be. Do we teach relativism?  The sense that any point that can be argued has an equally valid right to occupy cultural space as another? Do we teach pluralism, meaning that under our umbrella of appropriate behaviors there is space for some, for many, but not for everyone?

What is the role of neutriality in the classroom? Should the educator strive for objectivity in the clasroom in the face on conflict? Paolo Friere says that “washing one’s hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral.”  But if neutrality is actually impossible, is the search for it a cultural sin? How does neutrality relate to authority? When should the educator make their opinion known, and how?

In all these questions, I find myself cycling back to the same space:  Some things are wrong, and they shoud be taught as such. Some decisions, some policies, some relatioships, are better than others, and this stance does not allow for the passive equalizing of relativism. To establish this with any authority, students must arrive at these decisions themselves, but the educator is the guide, and must assume responsibility as such.  As an educator, I believe my job is to bring students into a functional cultural literacy- one in which they have agency and understand the rules of engagement.

I beleive the role of cultre is to establish boundaries, and these boundaires are the boundaries of right and wrong. These “truths” are not universal and cannot ever be assumed. They must be deliberated, argued, substaitaited, and enforced. This is the job of the public, and it is my job as an educator to prepare students for this important work. Right?

I’m interested in hearing from students, educators, parents, citizens:

Should the educator be a strong moral leader with direction, or an ambiguous open field?


~ by Vy on November 15, 2010.

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