I haven’t written a blog post in a long time and I’m not sure why this is the topic that finally got me to write something again…It’s hardly even about education! Oh well…Here we go!
As a teacher and now an administrator I’ve always held my political views very close to me in an effort to not influence my students, show a bias, or be judged by co-workers. Those that know me well know that I have very strong political beliefs. I have shed tears over politics. It has been very hard to keep my political beliefs to myself over the years. There is a lot of pressure on educators to keep political beliefs to themselves and also a lot of confusion as to what rights educators have when it comes to expressing their personal beliefs. I completely understand the influence and voice we have as educators and why we have to have an awareness of our political voice and its reach. While I understand it, I still don’t like it.
As a teacher I took pride in my ability to hide my political beliefs from my students so as not to influence their beliefs. If I hadn’t made a conscious effort to be neutral in the classroom, I think I would have shown a bias and that’s not what I wanted in my classroom. As a World and U.S. History teacher for 8 years, politics came up in class constantly during some healthy debates, but I wanted my students to discover their own political beliefs through this process and not be swayed by anything I said. I’m proud of that. Students asked me if I was a republican or a democrat….I NEVER told them. It’s crazy to me that I was able to keep it a mystery from some very intelligent 15 and 16 year olds. Even now, most of my coworkers have no idea what my political beliefs are.
While others have the freedom to express their thoughts on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc., educators do not have that freedom. I know I have the constitutional freedom, but for the sake of my career and even some friendships at work, I have felt that the smart thing to do is to keep my beliefs as far away from my career as possible. I love Twitter and all forms of social media, but because I use it professionally, I typically avoid posting personal things, especially when it comes to politics or other hot button issues. On one shoulder someone is telling me to do the smart and professional thing and keep my political beliefs far away from my career. The Tim on that shoulder is worried even as I type this and consider posting it as a public blog post. Will THIS post hurt my career? On the other shoulder is the Tim that tells me to be true to myself and not worry about what other people think. He’s telling me I have the right to my opinion and the right to express myself. It’s a tough, ongoing personal debate.
The point of this blog post is not to finally spill my guts and get it all out, revealing my political views to the world, even though that would be so liberating. I’ve held it all in this long….I’m not gonna crack now. The point of this post is for me to empathize with others in my industry or in other careers where it’s unofficially frowned upon to share personal political beliefs. This is just something we struggle with as we see people posting political opinions, creating memes, and discussing daily news on Twitter or Instagram, without hesitation. We are itching to hit the comment button. Is it right that I suppress my own political beliefs? I don’t know. I don’t blame anyone. It just comes with the territory, I guess. I’ve come to accept it. I’ll continue to struggle with this and you’ll continue to wonder what my political beliefs are. Enjoy!