This blog entry was written by Willie Barbour, Professional Development Fellow and faculty in the English department.

In the Oct 11th Chronicle of High Education article “How to Respond to Govt. Shutdown? Talk About It, Says Higher-Education Lobby” by Eric Kelderman the role of faculty in classroom discussions about the shutdown of the government was discussed. This got me thinking about this idea of talking politics in the classroom, because this recent shut down was so bogged down in both the extremes of political ideology any classroom discussion of the shutdown could go very wrong, very fast. So how and when do we/should we talk about politics in the classroom? I believe we should talk about it. We are preparing our students to be lifelong learners and participating in all public discourse, politics being just one of many subjects we should encourage in class discussions and writing projects. But this must be undertaken with caution, as I indicated above it could go very wrong, very quickly.

·      How do we talk about cultural and sociopolitical issues in our classrooms?
·      How do we prepare for and then facilitate these discussions?
·      Should we even discuss these things?

I think there might be a lot of fear because of how polarizing the political and social climates have gotten in the last five to ten years, and I would like to invite educators to discuss this important issue. What has worked for you and what hasn’t worked for you? What would you like to try and/or why you will never have these discussions? Any and all comments are welcome; please join in this discussion.

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