Teachers’ union offers anti-Enbridge lesson plans

The B.C. Teachers’ Federation last week began offering resources to teachers on Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline

The B.C. Teachers’ Federation last week began offering resources to teachers on Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline – a move that has sparked criticism for its blatant opposition of the project.

Resource posters depict a river scene of a grizzly bear eating a salmon amid orcas, seals, an otter and an eagle, while black oil drips across the lower portion of the image. The words “What we stand to lose with pipelines and supertankers” are emblazoned across the top section.

Along with the poster, the teachers’ union has made available resources such as lessons on the importance of protecting ocean ecosystems, the “effects of mixing oil, water, and bird feathers” and a game similar to snakes and ladders, involving pipelines and sunbeams.

While critics, such as Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver, have accused the BCTF of presenting propaganda to children, the chairperson of the Greater Victoria Board of Education doesn’t see the lessons as cause for alarm.

“For years teachers have talked about topical and perhaps controversial topics in history, social studies, law, as a way of teaching critical thinking skills to our students. We believe that our teachers are responsible and facilitate these discussions in an unbiased fashion,” said Orcherton. “This isn’t new, it’s just that Enbridge is topical right now.”

It remains unclear if any School District No. 61 teachers plan to use the Enbridge lesson plans. Orcherton said any complaints or concerns from parents that come out of the teaching materials will be dealt with immediately.

Jason Price, an education professor in the department of curriculum and instruction at the University of Victoria, said the BCTF and Enbridge are both involved in the “indoctrination” of students regarding resources and the environment.

“It seems that the BCTF is firing this as a salvo in a sense, but one that in some ways is just as balanced as that of the proponents of the pipeline,” Price said. “We’re not playing with an even playing field.”

BCTF has taken strong positions on First Nations and same sex marriages issues in the past, he said, noting the presence of literature on the federation’s website on how to foster clear thinking on controversial issues.

Students are already exposed to the Enbridge issue via social media, familial influences, or civil disobedience in their communities, and should be welcomed to discuss it within the school environment, Price said.

“The idea that somehow we should create schools as a bubble is responsible for the type of mediocre, non-engaged, go-through-the-motions schooling that we’ve had for so long,” he said.

“One of the frustrations that I have personally is the lack of willingness of teachers to use their academic freedom to discuss controversial issues.

“While the federation might be taking a position and highlighting this lesson plan as an approach, I’d be surprised to see a radical indoctrination in our classrooms. It’s a bogeyman that Conservatives like to play, but it doesn’t really exist.”

Few elements of the B.C. curriculum afford students the opportunity to think critically and teachers often take controversial positions to inspire a critical discussion around media, Price added.

“If (teachers) use these as teaching moments, they have to be very, very clear that they put all of the information in and facilitate in an unbiased fashion,” Orcherton said.

nnorth@saanichnews.com

What do you think?

Give us your comments by email: editor@saanichnews.com. All letters must have a name and a telephone number for verification.

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

BC Housing ensures that by March 31, shelter will be available to all people living outside. (Black Press Media file photo)
All unhoused Victoria residents will be offered shelter by March 31, says BC Housing

BC Housing working to secure shelter locations in coming weeks

Robert Schram, here seen in January 2016, died Saturday, according to a friend. (Black Press Media file photo)
Sidney, Saanich Peninsula mourn the death of Mr. Beads

Bead artist Robert Schram was a familiar, well-loved figure in Sidney and beyond

Cathy Armstrong, executive director of the Land Conservancy, Paul Nursey CEO of Destination Greater Victoria and Saanich Coun. Susan Brice helped to kick off the annual Greater Victoria Flower Count at Abkhazi Garden Monday. This year, the flower count is less about rubbing the region’s weather in the rest of Canada’ faces, and more about extending a bouquet of compassion and love. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
2021 Greater Victoria Flower Count sows seeds of compassion

Friendly flower count competition runs from March 3 to 10

Langley resident Carrie MacKay shared a video showing how stairs are a challenge after spending weeks in hospital battling COVID-19 (Special to Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Stairs a challenge for B.C. woman who chronicled COVID-19 battle

‘I can now walk for six (to) 10 minutes a day’

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s coronavirus situation, May 8, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C.’s weekend COVID-19 cases: 532 Saturday, 508 Sunday, 438 Monday

Fraser Health still has most, eight more coronavirus deaths

B.C. Attorney General David Eby speaks in the legislature, Dec. 7, 2020. Eby was given responsibility for housing after the October 2020 provincial election. (Hansard TV)
B.C. extends COVID-19 rent freeze again, to the end of 2021

‘Renoviction’ rules tightened, rent capped to inflation in 2022

Face mask hangs from a rear-view mirror. (Black Press image)
B.C. CDC unveils guide on how to carpool during the pandemic

Wearing masks, keeping windows open key to slowing the spread of COVID-19

Churches, including Langley’s Riverside Calvary Church, are challenging the regulations barring them from holding in-person worship services during COVID-19. (Langley Advance Times file)
Det. Sgt. Jim Callender. (Hamilton Police Service screenshot)
B.C. man dead, woman seriously injured after shooting in Hamilton, Ont.

The man was in the process of moving to the greater Toronto area, police say

Police have identified the vehicle involved in the Feb. 14 hit-and-run in Chemainus and are continuing to investigate. (Black Press Media files)
Police seize and identify suspect vehicle in hit-and-run

Investigation into death expected to be lengthy and involved

(Black Press file photo)
Child in critical condition, homicide investigators probe incident near Agassiz

The child was transported to hospital but is not expected to survive

Sewage plant in Lower Mainland, operated by Metro Vancouver. (Metro Vancouver screenshot)
‘Poop tracker’ launches as researchers test Lower Mainland sewage water for COVID-19

‘Studying the virus in wastewater allows researchers to look at an entire population…’

Most Read