Perspectives on Neutrality in Teaching
A rich literature in the scholarship of teaching and learning has explored the value of neutrality or impartiality in teaching controversial topics. Some contend that disciplined impartiality is the only defensible stance, while others argue that it is the duty of the professor to instill values consistent with the ethics of their disciplines or the missions of their institutions (see Kelly, 1986 for a summary). The recent fraught political cycle raised this issue anew. We will begin by summarizing various approaches to neutrality in teaching, then we will share our own perspectives and recent experiences during the 2016 election year, and finally we will lead an interactive discussion with the audience. In addition to the voices of the three professors on the panel, several undergraduates will also be invited to reflect on their experiences with neutrality or non-neutrality in the classroom.
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