Pub. date: 2006 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412939584 | Print ISBN: 9780761930877 | Online ISBN: 9781412939584| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Vivian Hopp Gordon
Academic freedom refers to the right of teachers to teach what they want in their classrooms. This concept originated in German universities during the nineteenth century for the purpose of allowing professors to teach subjects they considered educationally appropriate. In today's elementary and secondary schools, academic freedom is limited due to the recognition that children are impressionable and could be affected by certain subject matters, based upon the children's age, experience, and readiness to understand the subject. Thus, a teacher's First Amendment right to free speech is weighed against his or her professional obligation to provide appropriate, relevant subject content consistent with the teaching assignment and the students' maturity. In general, academic freedom is more accepted on college and university campuses than in elementary and secondary public schools. State and local school boards, state legislatures, as well as school administrators, often develop and implement curriculum policies and guidelines to manage ...