Lack Of Freedom In Teaching?

Teachers have a tricky position in life. Their role is to bring unbiased awareness and learning to students in a way that enables children to make their own decisions in life. When it all comes down to it, teachers are to be impartial lecturers.

So, why then, did the BC Court of Appeal ruled that teachers could submit their own views about government underfunding of the education system during parent-teacher interviews, and yet, as mentions, they ruled against a BC teacher on his rights to express his opinions on homosexuality?

On the one hand, the parent-teacher interview isn’t a time when teachers are actually teaching their students, so they aren’t really expressing their views to sway their students in any one direction on the underfunding issue. And, typically, it is also a time when teachers aren’t being paid for work, so they aren’t really “on the job” at the time to be restricted to what they say and don’t say. Similarly, the BC teacher who expressed his opinions on homosexuality wasn’t really teaching his students to learn in one certain direction on the issue.

On the other hand, students are usually at the parent-teacher interviews to hear what the teacher has to say, and perhaps hearing the teacher rant about underfunding could sway the student in some way. Furthermore, the BC teacher who wrote on his opinions of homosexuality was speaking/teaching his students in a more subtle way – through the means of the media.

Related to the issue of the court’s ruling is how the decision will be maintained by the BC Teacher’s Federation. Essentially, when a teacher registers with them as a legitimate educator, s/he relinquishes basic rights and freedoms for the sake of teaching. Of course, all Canadians live within the same Charter of Rights and Freedoms, but teachers are bound to their roll in the community, and their choice to do so entails being in the constant, watchful eye of the public. Teachers are scrutinized continuously – on and off the job; and therefore, must always exemplify the qualities and morals that the community values and cherishes. If teachers are not supported by the community in their beliefs, then they are not likely to be supported by the BCTF. Hence, if teachers cry out about either underfunding or homosexuality, and the community is outraged by either of their campaigns, then the BCTF will likely favor the community’s outrage over the teachers’ dissension. Regardless of how the courts rule, the BCTF can hold precedence over the fate of the teachers.

All in all, what I’m attempting to demonstrate here is that the teachers likely had more community/societal support on campaigning about government underfunding than did the BC teacher who expressed his opinions about homosexuality.

Teaching is a difficult occupation, especially in this ever-so-sensitive society. What they say, or don’t say, can affect their careers in positive ways or in the most devastating ways. Teachers have lost their jobs over the silliest things, simply because the community, and therefore the BCTF, did not approve. The safest thing for a teacher to do is to be as impartial and unbiased as possible and to steer clear of any hot topics. In order be secure in the occupation, teachers would have to stick to the textbooks and stay out of any subject that has any relevance to real-life situations.

But then they’d have to ask themselves, is that really teaching?

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