While discussing political ideology in my United States History course the other day, a few students pointed out that I am pretty far left of center on the spectrum. Of course this conversation was all in good fun. I do a pretty good job keeping my politics out of my class; however, I do point out that my leftist leanings impact my historical interpretation in terms of schools of thought. I find it important that students have a pretty good sense as to where I stand historically. Plus, it is important that they challenge my historical interpretations in class. Though young, they are already a part of the political socialization that serves as a base for individual thought. My particular construct will not usurp their parents. That is not my job; it is my job to challenge their held beliefs. I cannot allow a student to leave my class thinking that it is okay to be a sexist just because men treat women as an inferior gender; I cannot allow a student to leave my class thinking that racism is okay. My greatest challenge besides the sexist thought has to be homophobia. There is an attitude shared by many that gays and lesbians are inferior and thus should be treated that way. That is just silly.
Although my politics does not belong in the class, I do believe that my ideological views should be expressed. I do not brain wash. I do push at times. I refuse to allow a student to pass off information ascertained from a sound bite. The same is true for me. Students have every right to question my sources.
All of this brings me to this point: In honor of my students, I offer this list of why I am conservative. Courtney Brady reminded me daily to post this list after I claimed to hold at least five conservative views. I must admit, I had to work very hard to come up with this list.
1.) I do not have a state teaching certification. I know history and I know it very well. My undergraduate and graduate degrees should be enough. Because of that, I knew I would only teach in private schools. Most do not require such a document. This is especially true among the best schools. This also means that I do not have to teach to a particular government required exam. My students do not have to miss any of my class time practicing to take such an exam. I love that the government is not involved in my classroom. This is pretty darn conservative.
2.) I refuse to spend too much money on my car. They are designed to get me safely from point A to point B. You will not catch me driving a big truck or SUV. I am a modest person when it comes to automobiles.
3.) I sport a very conservative hair cut. If I wanted to display my more bohemian side, I would go back to the fro. Displaying my race and liberalism that allowed Blacks to reach middle class would clearly be on stage. Note the old picture of me with a fro circa 2007:
4.) I dress conservatively when I come to campus. See post here. Note the bow tie.
5.) I teach at a very conservative school; I have colleagues who would not last 10 minutes. And as a bonus, I attended a very conservative private school in high school and college.