The Place for Politics At School

Recently several big tech companies, such as Google, have asked employees to stop talking about politics while at work. In the past, Google was praised for having an open communication environment where people were encouraged to share their views.  

Google CEO Sundar Pichai sent an email out to the employees which stated their new guidelines. According to an article written by the New York Post, the email said “While sharing information and ideas with colleagues helps build a community, disrupting the workday to have raging debates over politics of the latest news story does not.” It continued to tell the employees that their primary responsibility is to do the work they are employed to do. 

Circumstances like the one above continue to fuel the debate of whether or not politics have a place in the workplace and in classrooms. Overall, I believe that it is good to talk about viewpoints and beliefs because that is how we grow as individuals, a community, and as a country. The more we understand each other, the more we can live in harmony. However, I believe there is a proper time and place to have these conversations. 

When in middle school or high school, especially in the public school system, politics in the classroom are typically avoided. In 2008 I was in fifth grade, and for our social studies unit we followed the presidential election. We learned about the process, basic information on each of the candidates and we even had an election as a school on who we would have voted for. However, whenever our teacher was asked about her political views she simply stated that she could not share her personal opinion. This became a pattern throughout the rest of my time in public school. 

As a freshman college student in a philosophy class, I recall getting in a heated debate with a classmate regarding the morality of the travel ban President Trump had placed against select Middle Eastern nations. I was surprised that politics had come up in the classroom, especially because it was not a political science class. 

As I mentioned, there needs to be a proper time and place for these discussions. In a political science class, the probability that everyone in the classroom is interested and willing to have a passionate conversation about politics is very high. However, in any other classroom, that probability would not be the same. Some people do not want to talk about politics because it makes them uncomfortable. They might just be there to attend class, take notes and leave. Including politics in a class where it does not have to exist, runs the risk of people being unhappy or uncomfortable. The most important priority of a class is to teach the material the students signed up for. The judgment of whether or not the class needs to include politics as a discussion is up to the teacher and their best judgment on the matter. 

I do think that politics is something that should be talked about overall. The more we talk, discuss and hear other people’s point of view, the better we can understand one another. But again, everything has a proper time and place. 

Hannah KirkComment