Writer vs. Writer: Should Professors Share Their Personal Opinions in Class?
by Peter Mazzella ’22
In a classroom setting, political and religious beliefs are typically regarded as sensitive subjects. Professors are discouraged from sharing personal opinions, as doing so may cause a divide within the class and discourage students from being open about their own opinions. While this may be true, professors should feel comfortable sharing their personal beliefs because it encourages open discussion, which can be beneficial for all participants.
Teachers should share their personal beliefs with their students, as it is important to know where the professor aligns. However, there is a small caveat to this statement; while it is a professor’s right to decide whether they share their personal beliefs with students, students should not feel pressured to agree with these beliefs to earn a better grade. Maintaining a middle ground in which professors can apply an unbiased grading system and welcome all different beliefs is critical in developing unity within the classroom.
Additionally, transparency within the classroom allows for open discussion as well as a common ground between those who feel similarly. So long as a pressure-free environment exists where students do not feel obligated to manipulate their personal opinions to fall in line with their professors’ opinions, professors should be able to share their thoughts without a problem.
Whether students agree or disagree with their professors’ personal opinions, there is a degree of importance in their transparency. Opinionated statements often help facilitate discussion, which can allow students to be heard and to have their opinions recognized as well. If a professor wants to express their opinion on a topic, that should be made clear to students so that students may then decide for themselves whether or not they agree.
Recognizing this may not be the case; however, students are encouraged to speak with their professors about what is subjective and what is objective in their classes.
by Julia McCoy ’22
Asst. Opinion Editor
Students come to Providence College with a purpose; in addition to spending four years making friends and discovering ourselves, we come to PC to learn from experts in certain subject areas. Students look to professors as sources of authority on campus, since they have a wealth of knowledge from which to draw on.
Students who see professors as authoritative figures likely would not question professors who share their opinions in class. However, there needs to be a distinction made between fact and opinion. While every opinion is important, professors should use their platform in the classroom to share information and facts rather than their personal opinions. Due to professors’ high level of education, students are likely to take professors’ words seriously and even as fact.
Classes are, more than anything, a place for students to gain information and form their own thoughts. It is important for professors to give students all of the possible perspectives on a certain subject without showing a preference for any of those perspectives.
College is a transformative place for students, so it is important that they are able to formulate opinions and ideologies on their own during these years. The best way to do this is through informative readings and discourse with other students. Professors are a great resource for guidance and perspective in discussions. It is important, though, that students are able to craft informed opinions of their own.
It is worth noting that students come into college as adults, so even if their professors do attempt to impress their opinions in class, students would hopefully be able to differentiate fact from opinion.
With current events often overwhelming our lives—like this year’s presidential election—it can be hard for professors to remain silent on such important issues. As much as they can, however, it is important that professors use their platforms to transmit knowledge to students rather than use the time to vent about their own personal issues. Everyone has an opinion; it is natural. Regardless, it is important that PC remains an environment that fosters individual discovery, truth, and information in the classroom.