Blogging on Politics and Pegagogy
Folks who have read this blog for a long while can probably attest to one thing — I don’t usually get political here at A Ku Indeed. Most of my posts are about ethics, Chinese philosophy, life, and about issues regarding teaching in the classroom. A few weeks ago I did let some political posts roll out (on Palin), but this is typically uncharacteristic of this blog. After I made those Palin posts, I was forced to think and reflect a bit about the role of using a blog, as I do, as a nexus for my students’ needs (all my course material is here), for talking about my research (Chinese Philosophy) and for serving as an arena for me to express my views on other things as they come up. My question is: How should they work together? Are there restrictions on what I should post about?
People who know me personally as a teacher know that I am not a fan of “advocacy” teaching. I don’t go into classes with a set political agenda, and I have no desire to convert students away from certain types of thinking (even ones that I find abhorrent). In fact, I often avoid political subjects, as well as “culture war” type subjects, in the classroom when I can (the only one I am vocal about is racism, which I cannot imagine a possible coherent argument in favor of). Now, I have no doubt that there are some teachers who are very attached to advocacy style teaching, and see it as an important responsibility pedagogically and ethically. I don’t share this view, though I’m not going to defend my position here, given that my target is a bit different. But my anti-advocacy position brings up blog related questions.
One of the reason I don’t talk politics on my blog is for the same reason I don’t do it (often) in the class — I don’t want to force students to have to take in my own personal political perspective. That’s not what they are there for, in my view. On my blog, I have kept it non-political because students do have to come here to get class materials, so in the past I have felt that blogging on politics would force them to encounter my political views when all they are really trying to do is gain access, say, to a handout for a class. In a way, political posts are forcing students to watch a political campaign ad before you hand them a paper assignment. It may be that my queasiness on this front is unwarranted. Is it?
My question to all of you (especially any students reading, but I’m also interested in anyone’s point of view on this) is this: do you think it is problematic in any way, when political posts appear on this blog? Of course, I’m not trying to make this about me or about my own specific posts. Rather, use this blog as an example for the question at large: Is it problematic to post on politics while simultaneously using a blog for course-related purposes?
What say ye all?