So apparently I’m a liberal?

There was a line of duct tape down the middle of the classroom floor.

The right side was for conservitives, the left side was for liberals. Where did we stand? On the line? Barely on the liberal side? All the way down against the conservitive wall?

I was barely on the liberal side. This was a question of whether our education philosophies were conservative or liberal, not our general politics. Still, there were people on both sides, some close to the line, some farther away.

Then the teacher posted questions on the board. Questions like, “Do you think that a student who is prone to being violent should be taught with other students(liberal), or in a separate classroom with others like them(conservative)?” With each issue, we moved across the room to demonstrate where we stood on the issue.

After many questions the teacher asked, “now where do you think you stand when it comes to being conservative or liberal in education?” And people stood in widely different spots than they had stood at the beginning.

I looked around. I stood alone, on the liberal side.

Seriously. Seriously? I am not sure what to think about this. I am not sure that I would have ever defined myself as a “liberal” before. At the same time, it disturbed me that I was apparently the only liberal in the room.

As a disclaimer, when it came to issues such as morality and religion, I tended to stand on the conservative side. But most of the questions had to do with things like, would you focus on teaching the individual child or on teaching the curreculem? Is education to preserve existing values or to help students think for themselves and change the wrongs around them?

Okay, yes I am writing this with a liberal bias because I don’t remember the exact wording.

Still.

I discovered something. My schooling was EXTREMELY liberal if you take out all the aspects of morality and religion. Everyone was in the same room, teachers decided for themselves how they were going to do things, everything was focused on the individual, and teachers would taylor their teaching stratagies in order to accomidate the way students learned. How many times have I seen my dad come home, bursting with excitement about the new technique he was going to use in order to help one particular student learn better?

That is the kind of teacher I want to be.

Apparently, that means I am a liberal.

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4 responses to “So apparently I’m a liberal?

  1. Byran J Smucker

    I find this to be quite interesting.

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  2. Well it sounds like I’d be a liberal too. 🙂 I get excited when coming up with a new way to teach the girl I’m tutoring.
    But I’m like you: I’m conservative in moral/ethical/religious aspects. It’s interesting how the definitions can vary so much…

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  3. As a former teacher (and current sub) I’m sad that more of your classmates didn’t take a liberal position on education. The more the individual needs of each student can be met the better in my opinion!

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  4. Horrors! (ha, ha) I wonder if your professor offered any definitions of “liberal” and “conservative” as they were used in this class? These days “liberalism” is often used synonymously with “anything and everything that is evil in this world,” but actually the word can mean many different things–classical liberalism, social liberalism, neoliberalism, and on and on. Although I think most philosophers/theorists would agree that individualism is a dominant theme (in one way or another) in all these types of liberalism.

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