I know, at least anecdotally, that many people have a policy of not disclosing their own views on philosophical problems when teaching. The aim of such a policy, I take it, is to provide students with an "unbiased" philosophical education. How many of you have this sort of policy? Anyone have a different one?
For my part, I am explicit to my students that I adopt the opposite approach. I tell them that while I will do my best to present each view/argument as strongly and charitably as I can -- and I sincerely do this, often drawing explicit attention to the fact that opposing arguments sometimes appeal to me -- I will not hide my thoughts on where I think the balance of arguments lie. I do this for a couple of reasons: (A) because it's honest, and (B) because I think it tends to excite students in several ways. First, I think it tends to excite them because it presents philosophical research as something not merely to study but to do. They see, in the classroom, that their professor does not just regard arguments as historical artifacts to study but as things to really grapple with (the "beginning" of the story, not the end of it). Second, I think it tends to excite students insofar as many students inevitably see things differently than I. When I see the balance of arguments as favoring one side but a student disagrees, they have an extra incentive: the excitement of "proving the professor wrong."
There are, of course, a number of possible pitfalls to this approach: students feeling as though their professor is "biased", or as though they must "agree" with the professor in order to do well in the course, etc. I think, though, that all of these pitfalls are surmountable. The key, in my experience, is to be equally frank with students on all of these counts. For example, I have passages in my syllabi telling students that I will be frank with them, to challenge me if they think the presentation of views/arguments is biased, and that their grades will in no way be affected by "agreeing/disagreeing" with me. Although I recognize that this approach isn't everyone's cup of tea (which is why I warn students about it up front), the feedback I've gotten has generally been very positive.
Thoughts? Anyone else adopt a similar approach? Anyone think I should change my ways? I'm always happen to entertain dissenting views.