Teachers should not wear this shirt in class.
Teachers should not wear this shirt in class. Contributed

OPINION: It's inappropriate for teachers to wear that shirt

DOES politics belong in the classroom?

When I was in high school, we had a teacher who had some pretty passionate political views.

He felt it was appropriate to express those views occasionally - usually in front of a full school assembly where he could reach the highest number of impressionable minds possible.

He was a strong advocate for a national apology to Australia's indigenous people, years before it actually came from then Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

This teacher would tell students that we should all be sorry and ashamed about what had happened to the indigenous people of this country.

I remember him yelling at a hushed assembly, shaming every student for the sins of their ancestors.

His views were what you would call "politically correct" and the other teachers would watch on silently, some of them probably too afraid to stop his rant in case they were labelled as being racist and intolerant.

At the time I felt mild irritation that he was allowed to scream his views at us - it wasn't even that I disagreed with him, but I certainly disagreed with the way he chose to share his opinion.

Now I see how grossly inappropriate it was for him to bring his politics to class - no matter how correct he felt he was, he had no right to harangue students and certainly should not have been allowed to do so in the manner that he did.

When I heard about Victorian teachers wanting to wear T-shirts saying "close the camps, bring them here", I had a flashback to the inappropriate behaviour of my former teacher.

Here are teachers who again want to force their thoughts and opinions on impressionable minds.

Well, I've had it.


The classroom is not a place for teachers to express their political views.

It is a place for them to help students learn as much as possible, to devour facts and to read and absorb knowledge so hopefully student can form their own ideas about things.

When I went to university, I was confronted by this same toxic attitude - the attitude that there was a "correct" way of looking at the world and no other thoughts or opinions were valid.

Completing a Bachelor of Arts and majoring in history, I was aware I was somewhat of an anomaly on campus.

There were flyers full of propaganda against the war in Iraq on the walls of the buildings, and in each class I took, teachers and students alike were free to voice their anti-American sentiment.

While acknowledging the United States is not perfect, I became aware that because I did not have an outright hatred of the US, and even admired the country in many respects, I was something of a black sheep on campus.

I was also pro-Israel and sat in class rolling my eyes when a student suggested that Communism, as a system of government, was grossly misunderstood.

Clearly I did not fit into the left-wing scene of my university and that excluded me from the learning process in some ways.

I learnt to keep my mouth shut for fear of offending the majority who clearly did not share my view of the world and would have decried my views if I had shared them.

Now, as much as I agree that refugees should not be left to spend the rest of their lives in camps, that is not the issue at stake here.

The issue is whether teachers should be allowed to attempt to mould students in a way where they are not only shaping their learning ability, but also their political beliefs.

After my own personal experience, I can't agree that wearing that shirt would be appropriate.

What do you think?

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