Know the Boundaries of Academic Freedom

Edited by Florence I. Edim, Graeme, Lynn, Nlangster

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Academic Freedom is a controversial issue in the academe. It should not be taken literally because once the law grants freedom, it is not absolute. There is always a corresponding responsibility. There are two interpretations of Academic Freedom that are recognized by the United Nations and accepted by the countries' constitutions regulating educational policies. The first Academic Freedom is given to higher education institutions, regarding their right to choose their own educational philosophies, their institutional policies and regulations, syllabi and instructional plans, their selection of their teaching force, and even on the creation of policies for students' admission. The second Academic Freedom is given to faculty members and students, regarding their right to express their views and opinion of a topic that is moot and academic in and out of the classroom. This article will focus on the boundaries of academic freedom for faculty members.

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What are the advantages of academic freedom for faculty members?

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  • Faculty members have the right to present empirical facts, research and scientific studies in their individual fields of specialization, in their class.
  • Faculty members have the right to encourage students to express their views on the subject matter without fear of punishment.
  • Faculty members and students have the right to question theories and research findings.
  • Faculty members are given the right to present their lessons, and to present the result of students' academic performance without fear of influence from anyone.
  • Faculty members are given due process to give them equal opportunity to defend themselves against accusations that affect their performance.

The Boundaries of Academic Freedom

Academic freedom is a right of the faculty member as a catalyst of knowledge to freely explore and discuss controversial topics that are related to his or her field of expertise. The limitation of this freedom is not clearly defined. However, as an educator you should set your boundaries on the following responsibilities assigned to you:

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  1. 1
    You have the responsibility to ensure quality education
    Quality education is the attainment of educational goals by carefully selecting lessons inside the class that promote knowledge, skills and the attitude of the learner. You have to make sure to use the learning opportunity to prepare quality lessons that will help the students achieve their educational objectives.
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  2. 2
    You are expected to behave with honor and dignity at all times
    A teacher should be a responsible member of the society. He should dress with modesty and maintain a life of integrity, in and out of the classroom. He should not be engaged in any form of controversy that affects the reputation of the school. In short, a faculty member should protect his name and his credibility.
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  3. 3
    You are expected to discipline students to correct their behavior
    Even if you are the authority in the classroom, you do not have the right to defame or humiliate students, or any member of the academe.
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  4. 4
    You are expected to exercise your parental authority and responsibility
    In loco parentis is a Latin term for second parents - as a faculty member you should treat your students as your children. Protect them from corporal punishment. Also, you should not use your authority to elicit any romantic relationship with your student because a parent would not do that to his child.
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  5. 5
    You have the responsibility to give valid grades as basis for scholastic performance
    You should not accept any favors or gifts in exchange of grades nor be influenced by authorities to give undeserved credits. Guard your class records and show students and parents the grade of the students based only on scholastic performance.
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  6. 6
    You have the responsibility to follow the policies and regulations implemented by the school where you have signed a teaching contract
    Otherwise, the school has the freedom to discontinue your service if you do not pass the standards set for faculty members.
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If you have problems with any of the steps in this article, please ask a question for more help, or post in the comments section below.


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Article Info

Categories : Communications & Education

Recent edits by: Lynn, Graeme, Florence I. Edim

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