By Nikkel Mitchell
Self-censorship is the personal control over what one says and does, especially when trying to avoid punishment. Some teachers censor themselves to help maintain a calm and comfortable academic environment for all students by keeping most of their personal beliefs and opinions out of the classroom.
Self-censorship could be a good and a bad thing, depending on the situation. WCHS teachers often censor themselves to create a feeling of mutual respect with their students, instead of having a hostile and argumentative presence in the classroom.
WCHS English teacher Heath Harrison explained how students could possibly be missing out if he fully censored himself during their time together.
“They may be missing out by having an adult express their beliefs. In a democracy, everyone’s voice has value, and I have a voice; therefore, it is of value. If I keep my views to myself, it could be viewed as quelling my rights as a citizen of this great and free country,” Harrison said.
When teachers talk about controversial topics, it is important to get different angles to the topic, and it is only appropriate if the teacher is not biased during the conversation.
WCHS French teacher Elizabeth Breidinger explained how she feels on the topic of how teachers should act and speak around their students.
“If teachers are going to discuss a controversial topic in their classroom, I think it is appropriate that all sides of the topic are represented and/or discussed,” Breidinger said.
When wanting to add an opinion or belief to prove a point, it is usually excused when the teacher states that they may be biased towards a topic.
“There are times when I preface what I say by clearly stating that I am a Christian and that my opinion may be skewed when I’m discussing a given topic, but it is my duty to be as sensitive yet simultaneously honest as I can,” Harrison said.
Breidinger explained her stance on how she feels about teachers and students sharing a professional relationship through high school.
“I feel teachers should remain professional when speaking to students. Teachers don’t have the same relationship with their students as they do with their friends and family,” Breidinger said.
Teachers and students have a mutual respect for each other when it comes to opinions.
“My job is to teach English, not my beliefs, and if I do not respect the beliefs of my students, how can I expect them to respect mine?” Harrison said.
Since the purpose of school is to learn, discussing multiple viewpoints and interpretations of issues is necessary.
It can be beneficial to hear a teacher’s opinions on controversial subjects, but it is important to hear all voices and perspectives from students, too.