A teacher’s role

In a school with close to 2000 students, there is no shortage of differing opinions and students willing to share them, often loudly. A classroom discussion turned screaming match is no rare occurrence at WHS. When the debate goes rogue, it’s teachers who are tasked with the responsibility of calming the fired-up teens.

A rule in my class is that what’s said there stays there, so people feel a little bit safer,”  Health Teacher Susan Kolesar said.  “We may not agree with everyone, but we should understand that they are entitled to their opinion, and there’s a reason for their opinions.”

English Teacher Aimee Burgoyne-Black said: “I think the classroom is an important place where people can discuss different sides of an issue…  I don’t think that stifling that kind of debate is healthy, either for them or for society.”

As far as contributing their own beliefs to the discussion, every teacher’s approach is different. While Kolesar never shares her political views, Burgoyne recognizes that it is “unavoidable” for her own philosophy to come through in class.

Any time I give anything that could be qualified as my own view, I use historically viable examples that I can point to statistical evidence of,” History Teacher Daniel Farabaugh said. “I’m not making comments about what I like or dislike, I’m being very careful to point to specific historical and statistical measures that can be backed up.”

Most teachers agree that discussion is vital and disagreement is welcome, but within limits. “It’s okay to be passionate,” AP Government Teacher Tricia Pizzi said. “But not when you’re attacking and making negative comments to another person.”

The occurrence of heated discussions within the walls of WHS is inevitable and, according to most teachers, necessary. Thanks to the teachers, those yells coming from debate-based classes never become too out of hand—they have just the right amount of passion to hopefully make a difference.