With or against the "freedom of expression within the classroom"

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literaturenerd's profile pic

literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

I think there is fine line between freedom of expression and the pushing of the line (in regards to respect and honesty). Many students may say that they are exercising their freedom of expression as an excuse for being disrespectful. Now, if they are truly wanting to express their beliefs and expressions, they will find a way to be respectful about it.

bigdreams1's profile pic

bigdreams1 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted on

I don't know if this helps, but when my students say something like, "I'm not going to do this assignment. It sucks."  I reply with:

"That is your right, however you had better then be prepared to live with the consequences of your actions."

I am for freedom of expression (For example, when kids ask my opinion on issues I refuse to give it, because I don't want to influence what they believe. When they ask me what to do a persuasive speech on, I say..."What are you passionate about." Much of what I do is to try and get teenagers to find their voice (expression) and be able to back up their beliefs with evidence.), however it must take place within the rules of the school, the rights of others, and respect for peers and teachers in the room.

clairewait's profile pic

clairewait | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

In my experience, many (most) high school students have a blurred perception of "freedom of expression" and respect.  Unfortunately, our society has degraded the importance of respect, almost universally, in favor of individualism, success, and assertion of personal opinion.

A classroom setting is a prime place for role modeling how to express differences of opinion with maturity and tolerance.  To do this, there must be boundaries in place, and it is the teacher's job to enforce those boundaries.

lmetcalf's profile pic

lmetcalf | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted on

I think your second post is suggesting that you are opposed to your teacher's idea of freedom of expression in his classroom. I think that most of the same rules apply to students as they do to teachers. Teachers need to remember their audience and be sure that personal conversations are very limited -- certainly not talking about religion or politics or issues involving other students for example. If you don't like the actual subject matter of the unit the teacher is choosing to cover (or is required to cover as part of an established curriculum) then you can lodge your concerns with a department chairman or the principal, but I would hardly think any one would see this as an abuse of the teacher's freedom of speech.

larrygates's profile pic

larrygates | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Any person with knowledge of the Constitution will tell you that all Constitutional freedoms are limited. Chief Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes stated in Schenck vs. U.S. that freedom of speech gives no one the right to cry fire in a crowded theater. The same rule applies to the classroom. Inappropriate language, threats, etc. are not proper; particularly if their purpose is to disrupt the lesson and interfere with the process of education. In that respect, I agree wholeheartedly with the posts above.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I agree with the previous two posts.  There's no way to be "for" or "against" this, not if you're a good teacher, at least.  You have to let students be able to express their opinions, but students need to know which opinions are legitimate topics of class discussion and they need to know how to discuss those so their opinions (if controversial) will sound academic and not inflammatory.

pacorz's profile pic

pacorz | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted on

It's not as simple as your question makes it sound. In a classroom setting, everyone has a duty. The instructor has a duty to assist all of his or her students in learning and gaining competence with the subject material. Students have the duty of taking responsibility for their own learning and making an appropriate effort without impeding the learning of others. If freedom of expression advances these efforts for all participants, then it is appropriate. However, far too often people take the concept of freedom of expression to mean that they can say anything with no regard to how it impacts others around them. As soon as someone's self-expression makes the classroom less of a setting for focused learning , then the speaker is infringing on the rights of others. You have a right to your opinion, but that does not mean you have a right to interfere with the progress of classmates.

bullgatortail's profile pic

bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

There are certain times when "freedom of expression" is acceptable in the classroom and times when it is not. Many students believe they have the right to speak up at any time, and too much of this can significantly alter a teacher's ability to teach and affect the teacher's ability to fulfill the time constraints of daily lesson plans. When "freedom of expression" turns to subjects such as racism, sex, politics, etc., the results can be ugly. Teacher's have to toe a fine line in such cases. 

drahmad1989's profile pic

drahmad1989 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted on

All humans are free from birth so with freedom of expression ;

loraaa's profile pic

loraaa | Student | (Level 2) Valedictorian

Posted on

I think there are a lot of militant teachers "saw nothing but his opinion," and that annoying to me as a student,
I have been always opposed to my teacher in the subjects of the lesson is not concerned but he asked me to remain silent ...
I think that this is not a solution ...
And also opposed the school principal in the activity of my students did not like.
The school principal asked me to stand in a room of discipline ...^_^

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