Thursday, May 19, 2011

May 19: Good and bad...

Some of the best opinon columns in The Moncton Times&Transcript are contributed by people who are not staffers, and not professional journalists. Here, you willl often find opinion columns written by people who know what they are talking about and write weill.

There's one today by Janet Keeping who has thoughtful and thoughtt-provoking things to say about the idea of an office of international religious freedom. It sounds good - but...  Well, you read it, and think it over.

On the opposite page is another well written piece by Jody Dallaire on mid-wives. New Brunswick was supposed to put them in place for practice in this province long ago. But, as in so many issues that rich people don't care about, it has dragged its feet.

The regular opinion man, Alec Bruce, is, as always, a thorough and knowledgeable pro.

The weak columns are often the ones on the op ed page that T&T has its editors and reporters do. Usually, the writers are wise enough to know they aren't experts in anything but putting together a newspaper. So they keep it trivial. But writing that is both trivial and engaging is rare. I haven't seen anyone at the T&T who can do that.

Routinely, the worst opinion piece by a staffer is the editorial. I don't know where the idea came trom that a person who edits a newspaper section has any wothwhile judgement or insights an anything but editing. All North American newspapers do that. Once upon a time, when most newspapers were propaganda sheets for political parties or rich people, one could live with the arrogant, preachy, vindictive, subservient and ignorant prose we call editorializing. But those days should be gone.

A newspaper should give us all the news and give it acccurately. That's what reporters are for. It should have people of judgement who rate the stories by importance. That's what editors are for. Then it should publish commentary by people who are neither reporters nor editors, but are knowldgeable in the field.

Instead, we get front page stories that are free ads for the casino or the hockey team or some other editorial pet.

Just a couple of comments on today's paper...
1. There was no mention of a big news story that the Attorney General of New York accuses Goldman-Sachs and those other institutions that US taxpayers gave hundreds of billions to of operating a giant scam that caused the recession.  He wants to charge them for that. And he wants to charge them for lying to a Congressional investigation. That's kind of important.

How can we have a democracy when voters don't know what's going on, and don't have informed discussion? Answer? We can't. And we don't.

2. Mount Allison is mounting a campaign to push its brand as "the best undergraduate school. This is common as universities  across North America are peddling themselves like brands of hot dogs.

    There is no such thing as a best undergraduate university. Or a best university in teaching. Almost all university teachers have the same training in education. None.

Educationally, all of them are stuck somehwhere about the year 1200.

The idea of ranking them, in Canada at least, came from MacLean's Magazine which makes a lot of money out of its scientifically invalid university surveys. (I don't say that out of jealousy that they never mentioned me. In f act, they listed me some five times as one of the most popular teachers at my university. And that was a crock, too. I would say the same for most of the university teaching awards. I was nominated for one, but refused the offer when I realized the whole thing was run by people who knew nothing about education.))

Universities should have had the ingtegrity to oppose MacLean's from the start. But universities are not big on integrity. The result is that they all scampered to fit into a random and silly lot of criteria set up by magazine editors.

There is no such thing as a best university. And, in all of Canada, thee is no such thing as a good teaching university.

What you do  have is a lot of universities scrambling for money and students, and all willing to kiss any  rear end to get it.

Good teaching in universities has never existed. And it probably never will. You want to see good teaching? Check out your child's elementary school. That's where you'll find it.

1 comment:

  1. i am living the reality of poor education. its so obvious that the teachers in my school are scooping up the paycheck and really don't want any of us to quit as they really need students. at my age their is little to be proud of that i am putting myself through this but thats my problem. i thought that schooling had become the new employer of choice in the early 90's. i guess it dates from before but i didn't clue in until the 90's and here i am in 2011 playing a schmoozing schooling game. oh well.