‘neutral’ teachers – Protect Bear Creek Park

A current event has left my grappling with the idea of ‘teacher neutrality’.

Below is a letter I submitted… expressing my concern with a parking lot proposal put forward, triggering further inquiry into teachers as a neutral subject.

Dear Public…

I am writing to express my distress, as a I see another attack to Bear Creek Park’s green space slip from public view. There has been yet another proposal put forward that will result in the destruction of Bear Creek Park Green Space, that I as a life long resident of Newton have grown to love. To the unknown eye, what may be assumed to be ‘scrub brush’ is in actuality an invaluable ecosystem vital to the local biosphere. I urge the city of Surrey to deny the proposed expansion of the 8300 block of 140th street parking lot. 

This parking lot expansion would pave over irreplaceable natural habitats. 

What message are we sending to our community and to our younger generation if we are prioritizing a parking lot over the protection of a park that has been central to Surrey for so long. 

On a global scale there has been a push to be ‘more green’, to be conscious of our footprint and work to reduce environmental degradation – we as a community are failing to recognize the detrimental impact that such things as parking lots have on our local environment. 

I ask the public to take a stand, to protect this fragile Park. 

Last I checked Surrey is the City of parks, not the city of parking lots. 

Sincerely, Sarah Dalzell Age 23

— TO ALL MY SURREY FOLKS! Please feel free to email parksrecculture@surrey.ca to help protest the parking lot extension if you’d like 🙂 

My questions then are….

To what extent should teachers be ‘neutral’ in and out the classroom?

Is it appropriate for me as a student teacher to be publicizing an opinion about a public issue so openly?

My thoughts..

Teachers are in a position of influence and it can be risky expressing an opinion to the class – But there is a difference between forcing ones opinion / promoting a one sided discussion, and allowing for students to create and support their own opinion while also being able to accept differences in opinion.

I feel that it is important to help students develop critical thinking skills that will allow them to construct their own opinions and in that demonstrating real life situations – people have different opinions, and that is OKAY!
I feel that expressing ones view point and modelling an open & accepting attitude towards differing opinions is important for students to observe, and what better place than in a safe and trusting classroom environment!.. WITH THIS IN MIND — I do recognize that a safe and trusting classroom environment needs to be established first and the conversations that involve the creation and expression of opinion need to be developmentally appropriate. 

I feel I am a global citizen, and fighting for what I believe in – giving a voice to the voiceless (like the environment) is my social responsibility… I will continue to appropriately, professionally and respectfully address concerns I have – and stand up for what I believe in. 

Thoughts… should teachers be neutral?

One thought on “‘neutral’ teachers – Protect Bear Creek Park

  1. I thought that protecting the environment had become part of a normal curriculum now? If so, then what could be wrong with a real life example of that? I think teachers should be neutral on controversial things like politics or religion etc. but I think it is globally accepted that protecting the environment is the right thing to do. Should you be all talk and no do? Protecting the environment is for your students and future generations. If it is not part of the curriculum, then it should be. I think you have just given them an example of what is being taught. Protecting the environment is globally accepted as the right thing to do. So I don’t see where there is a possibility of influencing their opinions? You teach them not to bully because it is wrong and you would certainly take a stand openly and publicly about an issue involving that. So what is the difference with taking a stand on an issue to do with protecting the environment? I actually thought that you were very professional in your public opinion. There are other issues which could be controversial in this matter and you carefully chose to express only your concern for the environment. What could be more professional than that? 

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