Last week’s column about the propriety or impropriety of teachers wearing campaign buttons in class provoked many questions, and today I would like to respond to those that were asked most often.
Some of the questions concerned the psychology of students. Several respondents scoffed at the likelihood of students being influenced by their teachers at all: “Prof. Fish’s belief in the power of faculty to influence students’ political choices is touching, but not borne out by research” (David Taylor).
But whatever the research disclosed would be irrelevant to the professional issue: is it a part of an instructor’s job to let students (susceptible or not) know what his or her political preferences are? What pedagogical purpose does such self-revelation serve?
Jason D’Cruz has an answer to that question. He believes that “when students know exactly what their professor’s political commitments are, they are in a better position to evaluate the points of view from which their teacher’s ideas arrive.”