Birmingham Branch Seminar
Christina Easton is a doctoral researcher in Philosophy at the London School of Economics. Her thesis concerns the acceptability of teaching liberal values in schools. Christina’s work has appeared in Synthese and Philosophy. Prior to taking up the studentship at LSE, she taught Philosophy and Religious Studies at secondary schools in and around London for eight years.
How should teachers respond to ‘words that wound’ in the classroom? Should they silence such speech or initiate a discussion of its content? Clearly our answer will depend on the specific situation. I take up Callan’s (2011) distinction between ‘easy’ cases, where it is relatively uncontroversial that teachers should silence, and ‘hard’ cases, where it is more difficult to agree on the appropriate response. I offer a number of arguments in support of discussion over silencing in hard cases. Since I allow that in easy cases, it is right to silence words that wound, there arises a challenge to explain the basis on which teachers are to make the decision on when to silence. A four-part test is offered in response to this challenge and exemplified through examples from past classroom experiences. This test sharpens Callan’s distinction between cases where we should and should not silence, as well as providing guidance on when it is right for teachers to steer discussion towards a particular outcome.
Details of future seminars in the series can be found on the Birmingham Philosophy of Education webpages.