Apr 02 2011
This past week in school we’ve been talking about how much one should share with his/her students. We were discussing this more in the context of political and moral beliefs. It was very interesting, because there is no definitive answer on whether it’s appropriate. I think the most we all concluded was sharing isn’t necessarily the issue but how one does it. For instance, if students knows how their teacher or professor votes in an election, perhaps that may sway the discussion. However, if this is revealed after, it may not make a difference.
I’ve overall stayed out of the discussions that the students I TA for. Although I grade on quality and I keep in mind it’s a 2-credit class, I don’t want them to feel like they must agree with me in their ideas and opinions. There have been very few classrooms (only one comes to mind, actually) I’ve been in where I felt like I may be penalized for my opinion. Needless to say, that kind of environment is conducive to learning.
Thinking more broadly, I’m wondering in general how much should one share with his/her students? Because the past few weeks have been horrendous for me and I fell behind with grading, I decided to be upfront with the students and tell them what is going on with me and my cat. I debated actually being vague about it, but in the end, I thought, rather than cause speculation and possible worry, I’d just be honest. A cat with lymphoma is not particularly controversial, but I began thinking about how separate one should keep the personal from the private. I’m lucky, in a sense, because I have college students and not toddlers, but there is definitely a proverbial line somewhere on what you do and don’t share.