Should politically active teachers be banned?


The U.K. is investigating a possible ban of members of the far-right British National Party from working as school teachers. Taiwan is reportedly considering a ban on public school teachers from participating in political activities.  And the issue of schools and politics was an issue in the U.S. in the lead-up to the presidential election.

How do you feel about your child’s teacher expressing political views, or being a member of a political party?

Some teachers are worried that the views of some political parties are “fundamentally inconsistent” with the ethos of schools and should therefore not be allowed to teach.

But on the other hand, this blogger wonders whether we should be “encouraging children to hear a wider range of views, in the hope that it will encourage them to start thinking about their own views”?

And this blogger says “What they (teachers) do in their own time has nothing to do with the neutral stance they take in the classroom.”

Would you like to know the political activities of your child’s teacher? Does it matter to you?

27 Responses to “Should politically active teachers be banned?”

  1. 1 Steve in Boston
    June 22, 2009 at 14:31

    I’ve put two kids through college and my wife works in higher education. All the teachers around here are so to the far left it’s really frightening. Anyone right wing or even center is both criticized and ostracized.

    I support a ban on all political bias in the classroom, but how are you going to do that? Create a Thought Police Department to monitor classroom lectures?

  2. 2 steve
    June 22, 2009 at 14:31

    If they ban certain extremists, they should ban ones from the opposite extremes as well, like the far left. But I do think things people do outside of the classroom should be held against teachers. Would you want someone in porn teaching your children? Would you want a stripper teaching your children?

  3. 3 Jennifer
    June 22, 2009 at 14:51

    Re: Would you like to know the political activities of your child’s teacher? Does it matter to you?

    Personally, I think that there is nothing wrong with teachers having their political beliefs. However, it is not their place to attempt to instill those beliefs in the children they teach. Offering insight and opinion is not wrong but teachers should not abuse their position in a classroom.

    This does happen; teachers trying to force their political beliefs. Even as far up as college!

  4. 4 VictorK
    June 22, 2009 at 15:01

    A ban on teachers being members of the BNP would be fine so long as it extended to other parties and movements (communists, ‘Islamists’, black nationalists, etc).

    But this won’t happen. The teacher unions in Britain are mainly full of, if not controlled by, leftists of the most extreme sort. Nobody has ever thought of acting against them. And state schools often manage to combine teaching with indoctrination in a range of left-wing dogmas: refusing to obey the law by having a daily act of prayer, pushing man-made climate change as uncontested fact, pro-gay marriage, pro-diversity & multiculturalism, favouring revisionist texts that are critical of Western history & culture, hostility to free markets, hostility to nationally-based cultural identiries in favour of a ‘citizen of the world’ outlook, giving hagiographic accounts of left-wing & anti-Western figures and presenting them as role models (Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Gandhi), boosting – often untruthfully – the cultural achievements of non-Westerners, promoting a sympathetic rather than a factual view of Islam, and preaching anti-colonialism and anti-imperialism rather than simply educating about these things.

    So what is this proposed ban really about?

    • 5 Ann
      June 22, 2009 at 17:01

      Hi Victor

      As an ex-teacher of a Scottish state school I have to challenage these sweeping statements. In all the time I was teaching I never met anyone with ‘extreme’ religious or political sympathies and certainly the idea of indoctrinating pupils with such views quite frankly just doesn’t happen… There’s hardly enough time to teach the curriculum far less preach your view of the world. I used to teach religious studies/philosophy/psychology and the main aim of my job was to teach kids to think for themselves and not accept dogma of any kind.

      I would suggest that the reason why there is a proposed ban on members of the BNP teaching is that they have a tendency to spread hatred, racism and ignorance.

      But in any case, young people nowadaways are much too well informed and to be influenced by the odd ‘nutter’ as the kids would describe them.

  5. 6 Elias
    June 22, 2009 at 15:40

    Teachers are employed and paid to teach the subgects they specialise in to school children and nothing else. It is not for them to air their political views on the students, which would be brainwashing students to follow their views whatever they are.
    As for the far right British Nationalist party that preach hatered against others, we all know what happened in World War 2 which never should happen again. Teachers who are found guilty of this practice should be desmissed and never allowed to teach again, its a simple as that.

  6. 7 Tom K in Mpls
    June 22, 2009 at 17:18

    Banning the teaching of anything, based on anything except the issue of age is wrong. A foundation of philosophy, judging, values, needs to be taught first. Then the more concepts that are taught, the better off the society is. I remember thinking some teachers had crackpot views. I feel the same today. If most students have a background that allows them to evaluate, they will.

  7. 8 Ann
    June 22, 2009 at 17:24

    Hi again Victor

    Meant to ask – are you saying that promoting multiculturalism is example of an ‘extreme far-left’ dogma?

    Would you prefer that teachers in state schools promote monoculturalism even in classrooms where 2/3 of the pupils may be not be white?

  8. 9 viola
    June 22, 2009 at 17:37

    Wouldn’t it be cheaper, less controversial, and more to the point to monitor the classroom than to monitor the teachers’ private lives?

    I believe personal beliefs should be left at home. Issues can be discussed by teachers dispassionately and objectively without the goal of convincing others that you, personally, are right and everyone else is wrong, even if you believe passionately that that is the case. Only those who understand and agree to that should be hired, and those who think that once they have the job they’re free to mold young minds in their own images should be fired. It’s only an issue if the system is too lazy to monitor teachers and enforce that requirement.

    When interviewing applicants, this requirement should be made clear. That position should not be deviated from even if an applicant is incredibly articulate in defending his or her “rights.”

    Forge a consensus on this issue in your community, be lawful and listen to but do not cater to every Tom, Dick and Harry who insists that only his views are legal, moral or (odious, overworked word) “viable.”


  9. 10 VictorK
    June 22, 2009 at 17:58

    @Viola: I think you’re right.

    But the fact that only people adhering to one set of fringe political beliefs are being targeted is deeply significant. What’s intended is that even if a teacher doesn’t bring his views as a BNP member into the classroom, he should still be barred from teaching. The teacher unions pressing for this are notorious for their own left-wing posture. Other, non-teaching, unions have in the past pressed for civil service organisations and even private companies to have the legal power to sack any employee simply for being a member of this party.

    I think the purpose is to give people a choice: you can starve to death or you can abandon your political beliefs. The BNP has enjoyed moderate electoral success over recent years, partly helped by the excessive publicity that hysterical journalists, politicians and unions give it. Since that success has been largely based on its ability to win disaffected Labour voters, the British government has a vested interest in breaking it as a party.

    For me the question is whether we are to remain a free society in which people are able, so long as they don’t break the law, to express their opinions and organise themselves politically as they wish. To target the BNP as a source of racial hatred while ignoring the religious hatred of several Muslim groups and the class hatred of a number of Marxist sects strikes me as politically motivated hypocrisy on the part of the UK government.

  10. 11 Dave in Florida
    June 22, 2009 at 18:40

    As a former teacher I can say that I never saw any teacher preach political views to students. This is a typical right-wing (paranoid schizophrenic) scare tactic.

  11. 12 VictorK
    June 22, 2009 at 19:11

    @ Ann June 22, 2009 at 17:24: yes. That’s precisely how I see multiculturalism.

    I’d much rather see children learning that they are citizens of one country, having a common culture, and the same loyalties. That they should consider themselves as ‘we’.Just because a majority of pupils in a school aren’t white doesn’t mean that they aren’t British and shouldn’t be treated like any other set of British pupils. The poison of multiculturalism is that it promotes the opposite view: unless you’re of Anglo-Saxon stock you don’t really belong and so we’ll teach you about Turkey and Ghana and Poland, since ‘Britain’ can only be a word to you. Same assumptions as the BNP, really (who I’ve always regarded as a socialist party).

    I previously posted to give some examples to support what you’d thought were sweeping generalisations in my first comment: but the post didn’t make it.

    • 13 Ann
      June 24, 2009 at 12:09

      Victor – Your idea of the motives behind promoting multiculturalism seem very different from what actually happens in schools. Is that how you really see it? Gosh, what has led you to these conclusions? I’d genuinly like to understand. Because from what I have seen (in scottish schools mainly) is that the principle idea behind promoting multiculturalism in state schools is that all British citizens ARE British, but we should try to understand and celebrate the diversity of cultures we have in our country, including being ‘British’.

      Not an easy task I grant you, especially when a particular culture is very different from British culture (in it’s various forms), but we have to try. Surely we really have to try? Wouldn’t the alternative – increasing polarization – be unthinkable?

  12. 14 Elias
    June 22, 2009 at 19:56

    Politics has no place in the class room. Teachers are there to teach young minds to be scholars. They should be made to sign that they agree to only teach the subjects they are qualified in doing, any political indocrination they do will lead to an end of their employment and banned from teaching. It is extremely nasty for a teacher to air his or her political thoughts which goes against the parents of the students in bringing up their children.
    The nasty minds of the British Nationalist Party and their thoughts is a route to anarchy and chaos, for they breed hate against minorities and get pleasure in so doing. The time is past overdue for the British Government to ban them once and for all, the sooner the better.
    Have we not learnt from, during world War 2, when Sir Mosely openly gave his support for the the Nazis and the barbaric Hitler regime’s extermination of millions of human beings, that we allow The Nationalist Party to win seats in the House of Commons so that they may gain more support in their cause.
    Whilst free speech is a valued idea in Britain, but to instigate hatred goes against the grain, it should be against the law and subject to prosecution.

  13. 15 T
    June 22, 2009 at 23:23

    Banning politics in the classroom is silly. Why? Because isn’t part of learning being exposed to different ideas and being able to critically think about them?

    The truth is this. Everyone who objects to politics in the classroom is in fact a neocon who’s dying to push their views on the students. Which means they’re hypocrites.

  14. 16 chilts
    June 23, 2009 at 11:42

    There’s too much monitoring already. Some people, because they once went to school, think they know about teaching. It is one of the hardest and most stressful jobs of all. Get rid of constant Ofsted monitoring and get rid of health and safety regulations in schools.

  15. June 23, 2009 at 14:37

    Should we consider eluding political subjects from schools as well if teachers becomes a targets of political confrontations?.

  16. 18 Dennis Junior
    June 23, 2009 at 16:34

    How do you feel about your child’s teacher expressing political views, or being a member of a political party? (As long as the teacher’s political thoughts or actions are not brought into the classroom, then I have no problem with it…)

    ~Dennis Junior~

    June 23, 2009 at 18:46

    Schools should be left out of politics in order to mold the minds of tomorrow. We should leave room for kids to form their own opinions once they grow up.
    Indocrination of children when they are young has often harmed their perception of life if we can learn from the Alqaeda who use such individuals to explode themselves. We should not lose sihgt of the fact that religion has been politicized.

    In my views any teachers with such a bent of mind should leave schools alone and enrol for civic civic posts. Ironically, we have some governments who advocate for such indocrination at the detriment of having its scholars harmed by oten pedestrian opinions.
    We very often forget that parenting provides a good does of extra learning whih should equip the child with global issues such as social interaction. They too should know and set the limits of such matters to avoid having their kids harmed by ignorance that abounds in society.

    Basic education is often well planned to exclude politics until one enters a higher institution where politics can be taken as a career. Politics does not produce better learners in early stages of growth and may even hamper the learning career as it often interferes with concentration in classroom.

  18. 20 Venessa
    June 23, 2009 at 19:25

    I agree with T. Just like many are afraid to teach sex ed in our schools, understanding politics is also and important lesson that can be taught in government classes or political science. A balanced discussion can be had. These kids are going to make up their own minds regardless of what they may hear. Methinks some people are scared their children won’t buy into their own individual ideologies.

  19. 21 Irene
    June 24, 2009 at 13:47

    It would be more appropriate to institute an IQ test. That would eliminate most far right teachers without forcing a ban on political discussion.

  20. 22 Heather
    June 24, 2009 at 16:47

    I feel that it is very difficult to present impartial views, particularly on politics. It seems roughly impossible to ‘ban’ teachers from being politically active and teaching their political views because we (humanity) struggles with a true sense of neutrality. Good teachers will teach all sides to conflicts when discussing political controversies and hope that they will explain/differentiate their opinions and political views from the opposition. The purpose of this could teach fundamental conflict resolution skills in the political arena to young minds. There is no safer place for learning debate than in the classroom.

  21. 23 Jim Newman
    June 25, 2009 at 15:12

    Hello again
    We are all politically active in some way or another either as manipulators or manipulated and that includes teachers and children ( and WHYS).
    Like most of the commentators I think that the best teachers are those who encourage children to think about things and to be curious and critical. The worst teaching (I avoid using the word teacher in this context) is that that dishes up everything ready digested. I suppose if any teachers should be banned it would be those who encourage pupils to break the law of the land.

  22. June 25, 2009 at 15:22

    This is not a correct solution.
    How, we will come to know that,some teachers are political minded.
    Very difficult to judge of their actions.
    All are politically conscious either one way or the other.
    World is improving day by day ,due to new science,internet connections,chatting with friends and relatives,e-mail and with mass media networks.
    So, as long as teachers political leaning towards students will not hinder their progress of learning,we should not terminate any political minded teachers.

  23. 25 John in Germany
    June 25, 2009 at 15:29

    No as long as they do not belong, and are active in the radical parties.

    John in Germany.

  24. 26 T
    July 26, 2009 at 23:46

    The stereotype that ALL teachers are flaming “liberals” (whatever that means) is rubbish. In fact, just the opposite. Neocons keep talking about “quality” teachers. isn’t one sign of quality the ability to expose students to a WIDE range of views? Besides, do you really want a teacher who thinks Palin should be President? I don’t. And I’m a teacher.

  25. 27 Elias
    July 27, 2009 at 14:40

    Teachers like anyone else are entitled to their political views, but it is downright diabolical and dispicable for teachers to indocrinate young children in clasrooms with their political views. Parents have their sole rights of bringing up their children in what they consider is in the best interests of their children and their families as a whole. It is deceitfull, wrong in many ways for a teacher to minipulate and direct childrens minds to their way of political thinking and they should be dismissed and banned from ever teaching again.

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