Home Articles Reader Opinion Editorial Book Reviews Discussion Writers Guide About TCRecord
transparent 13

Teacher Political Disclosure as Parrhēsia

by Wayne Journell - 2016

Background/Context: The traditional stance on teacher political disclosure within K–12 education is that neutrality is the only morally appropriate approach for teachers to take when broaching political or social issues in their classes due to their role as state employees who serve a particular community. A number of recent high-profile cases of teachers intolerantly disclosing their political beliefs in their classrooms have only served to reinforce the belief among the general public that teachers too often use their positions of authority to proselytize to their students. However, both theoretical arguments made by scholars and empirical data from K–12 classrooms suggest that disclosure may be beneficial to students’ learning experiences and civic development.

Purpose: This article seeks to better understand the benefits and limitations of teacher political disclosure by framing disclosure around Foucault’s conceptualization of parrhēsia, which can loosely be defined as the ability to speak the truth in spite of danger or fear.

Research Design: This is an analytic essay/theoretical argument. As a way of scaffolding the discussion, I incorporate vignettes of data collected from my research in high school civics classrooms. Of particular interest to this argument is Mr. Monroe, a teacher I studied during the 2012 Presidential Election.

Conclusions/Recommendations: An analysis of teacher political disclosure using a parrhēsia framework suggests that educators should rethink the conventional wisdom that supports non-disclosure. Although disclosure carries inherent risk, it also offers democratic and interpersonal benefits for students. Both in-service and pre-service professional development, then, should present teachers with a complete picture of the risks and benefits of disclosure, and teachers should determine whether to engage in parrhēsiastic acts by strategically balancing those risks against the potential of disclosure to support their pedagogical goals.

To view the full-text for this article you must be signed-in with the appropriate membership. Please review your options below:

Store a cookie on my computer that will allow me to skip this sign-in in the future.
Send me my password -- I can't remember it
Purchase this Article
Purchase Teacher Political Disclosure as Parrhēsia
Individual-Resource passes allow you to purchase access to resources one resource at a time. There are no recurring fees.
Become a Member
Online Access
With this membership you receive online access to all of TCRecord's content. The introductory rate of $25 is available for a limited time.
Print and Online Access
With this membership you receive the print journal and free online access to all of TCRecord's content.

Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 118 Number 5, 2016, p. 1-36
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 19370, Date Accessed: 9/23/2021 9:04:10 PM

Purchase Reprint Rights for this article or review
Article Tools

Related Media

Related Articles

Related Discussion
Post a Comment | Read All

About the Author
  • Wayne Journell
    University of North Carolina at Greensboro
    E-mail Author
    WAYNE JOURNELL is Associate Professor and Secondary Social Studies Program Coordinator at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. His research focuses on the teaching of politics and political processes in secondary education. In 2014, he received the Exemplary Research in Social Studies Award from the National Council for the Social Studies and the Early Career Award from the College and University Faculty Assembly of the National Council for the Social Studies. He is also an associate editor of Theory & Research in Social Education, the premier research journal in the field of social studies education. Recent publications include: Journell, W. (2013). What preservice social studies teachers (don’t) know about politics and current events—and why it matters. Theory & Research in Social Education, 41, 316-351. Journell, W., Beeson, M. W., & Ayers, C. A. (in press). Learning to think politically: Toward more complete disciplinary knowledge in civics and government courses. Theory & Research in Social Education.
Member Center
In Print
This Month's Issue