Nemo Yu, 14, Carmel Secondary School
Hong Kong is a democratic society under the “one country, two systems” framework. That means our freedom of speech is protected by law. So why shouldn’t teachers be allowed to share their political views with students, provided that both sides are willing to share and listen?
Teachers are perfectly justified in sharing their political views outside of the school environment. Firstly, expressing their political opinions is in no way equivalent to forcefully indoctrinating students to accept their way of thinking. Exchanging ideas is a normal part of human interaction. It’s what teachers do every day with their students – share and swap ideas and information.
Secondly, expressing political views won’t harm the security of our society or the one country, two systems model. In fact, sharing political views (no matter which side they’re on) helps to uphold Hong Kong’s core values of freedom and tolerance.
Thirdly, expressing views through friendly conversation sets an example to students of how political views can be expressed without the use of violence or force, helping to maintain a peaceful society.
Students have much to gain from learning about their teachers’ political views. It allows them to see things from a new perspective and encourages them to think more critically. No matter what stance the teacher takes, or whether the students accept those views or not, they can still listen to their reasoning, as this will further enrich their understanding of society.
We shouldn’t be afraid of students being exposed to new ideas. The more informed they are, the better equipped they will be to make up their own minds.
Iris Lee, 17, Hong Kong International School
Teachers should not share their political views with students outside of class, for three reasons.
Firstly, teachers serve as role models and educators, in and outside the classroom. They should not let down professional boundaries simply because they are not in class. They should be mindful of their responsibility to help students think critically – to help them understand the complexities of a particular issue and form their own opinion. Expressing their own views conflicts with this duty, as it may skew students’ opinions – especially considering their positions as authority figures.
Secondly, if teachers were to share their views, some students may hesitate to disagree with them, whether in class or not. That’s not to say students will feel silenced – that’s an extreme case – but personally, I know students who would take a certain stance when writing an essay simply because they believe it will appeal to the teacher’s view and earn them a better grade.
Even if teachers don’t actively try to indoctrinate their students, their views impact students in subtle ways that prevent them from personally grappling with an important issue and reaching their own conclusion.
Lastly, it’s difficult to distinguish between a teacher simply expressing their view, and imposing it on their students. Some may argue that if teachers do not actively try to influence their students, they should be able to voice their views. However, there’s a very fine line between expression and influence, and it becomes even harder to distinguish outside of the classroom, where there is no formal monitoring system in place. This becomes more of an issue with sensitive subjects such as the recent protests. Teachers must remember their role is to encourage independent thinking. Expressing their view does nothing to achieve this.