It’s election season once again, and the political energy in the air often presents unusual challenges for Gregory School teachers. Recent Chant polling shows the upper school campus as an overwhelmingly liberal political climate, with 72 percent of upper school students reporting they planned to vote for either Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton.
But a minority here still supports strident conservatives like Donald Trump or Ted Cruz. Across the country, the picture is similar. Students in the same school often bring very different backgrounds, experiences, and political beliefs to school.
American teachers face a dilemma: how do they manage politics in their classes? How candid should they be about their own political leanings?
Gregory School teachers have adopted a variety of approaches to teaching about politically-charged issues and sharing their own political beliefs.
Some, like history department chair Dr. Michelle Berry, teach classes that are inseparably linked to political issues and frequently discuss campaigns. Berry, who teaches in the upper school, shares her own political beliefs openly.
“It’s one of the great things about The Gregory School,” Berry said, “that teachers are kind of allowed to make that decision on their own.” Berry teaches juniors and seniors in AP U.S. Government, Law & Policy in the U.S., and a number of advanced U.S. history seminars.
“It has always been my policy that I am very open about my political opinions and leanings because I don’t believe people are apolitical and [that my students] are old enough, mature enough, and deep enough thinkers to recognize that I am a politicized being and that my honesty about my political orientation should not be off-putting to them,” Berry said.
Not all American teachers can or do share their political beliefs in the classroom. Several Gregory School teachers declined to comment for this article.
Some public school districts explicitly prohibit it to avoid publicized controversies, while many teachers prefer to remain neutral around students given the lopsided balance of power.
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