Friday, March 29, 2013

Undergrads: Underloved or Just Under Grads

An article in the G&M today expresses concerns with the "hookup culture" of university students.   There's a big fear that casual sex will create "a drastic divide between physical intimacy and emotional intimacy," and that people will see human bodies as disposable and "become incapable of creating 'valuable and real connections'."  The author goes on to quote researchers who have concerns about the quality of the sex as well.

I think there's a bigger problem that they've missed:  the connection between physical intimacy and emotional intimacy to begin with.  That fact that we see love primarily as a romantic connection between lovers, keeps intimacy from being part of less intense and exclusive relationships - even hookups.  We've created a false dichotomy between true love and nothing at all to the extent that some people, so concerned to clarify their lack of romantic intention, end up acting like jerks to partners in a  temporary encounter.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Seniority Does Not Always Equal Merit

The title is from a line in an essay published in Friday's Globe and Mail:  "I'm a First-Year Teacher Who Will Automatically be Fired at the End of the School Year."  The author of this unwieldly title laments the reality that, as a new teacher, s/he'll be first out the door over teachers who have been there longer, yet are clearly far less brilliant.  In the comments, people have been led to trash unions.  I don't think that's the real issue.

There are several problem with the author's arguments.  For instance, s/he claims that current teachers generally have only a B.A. whereas new teachers need two degrees.  With the exception of tech teachers, I think s/he must be thinking of a very long time ago - and most of that lot have long retired.  I've been teaching 22 years, and I had to have 5 years  of education with two degrees, and since starting, added several additional qualifications and a Masters.

Monday, March 11, 2013

On Teacher Accountability

One criticism that Cooper and friends say is part of the problem with education is a lack of teacher accountability.  I actually agree with this one.  But how do we assess teacher ability?  And, maybe a bigger problem, what do we do if we find some teachers below par?  This post was inspired by a twitter conversation with some fellow teachers  (Corbett, Dan, Scott, and Marcus), and I went all out to figure out what it would look like.  My goal over this break is to clean my house top to bottom and fix a ton of little things around this place, so I'm getting a lot of random writing done!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

On Hate Crimes and Sexual Orientation

I was reviewing for a test on theories of discrimination and hate crimes in Canada with grade 12 students, and one review question was, "When was sexual orientation added to the list of identifiable groups in the hate propaganda legislation in Canada?"

And the answers I got started in the 60s - 1968, 1969...  Then another bunch tried the 1980s and early 90s.  One group guessed 2005, and they were off by one.  Being victimized due to sexual orientation has only been seen as a hate crime since April 29, 2004.  Almost 9 years ago.

My first reaction was that it's... sweet? innocent?... somehow endearing that they believe we've been on this for decades - for them to believe that the justice system cared about this section of the population for that long.  They just haven't lived long enough to remember how bad it really was.  And it's a good thing that question wasn't on the test!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Following Your Dreams or Living an Illusion?

Ken Robinson, Sir, you are killing me!  I know you probably didn't mean for people to interpret your words in a warped way.  Nobody does.  But that's what happens when you use several rare examples as if they are the norm and send people off to change the world.

Some of my students watched his TEDTalk - the most watched TEDTalk in all the land - and, likely because of it, came away with a firm position that if they're doing poorly, it's entirely because their teacher (me) isn't inspiring enough.  A good teacher with good curriculum - not at all like we have in the schools now - will be able to get absolutely anybody to achieve absolutely anything.

So it goes.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Regulation 274, Education Act of Ontario

I was just about to start a petition at about this, but, thanks to Angie Potts, there's one already there.  After, I'm guessing, about 5 day, it's got 415 signatures.  Please take two seconds to click on the link and sign it.

I wrote a letter to Liz Sandals, Minister of Education, and Kathleen Wynne, Premier, and Catherine Fife, my MPP.  But if walking to the mailbox is a chore on this beautiful Sunday afternoon, send a quick e-mail - the contacts are at the links.  You can copy and paste what I wrote if you're not up to creating today: