Saturday, May 12, 2012

May 12:We'll start with a student column because...

....it's almost the only thing worth reading in today's Moncton Times and Transcript.

Jana Giles, a grade 8 student at Lewisville Middle School, writes on p. F7 that iti would be desirable for teachers to be assigned to teach the same subjects for years, rather than, as sometimes happens, to assign them frequent changes.

Yes, indeed. I remembered the time I was completing an MA in history (at Acadia), and I was offered a job by a high school principal. "Of course", he said, you wouldn't teach history. You've had enough of that. Perhaps math or geography."

I gently suggested that I knew nothing whatever about either subject. He assured me it would be fine. He believed - now, this really happened - he really believed that  teacher should teach a subject he didn't know anything about. "Then", he said, "after a few years you'll get to know, so we'll switch you to something else you don't know - say, physics or chemistry."

I decided to stay a few more years in university. Then I went to UPEI to teach what I thought I knew - Canadian history. I soon realized from listening to myself teaching, there was a lot I didn't really understand at all. (Ever have those moments? When you're talking and you suddenly realize how dumb it sounds?) I spent forty years daily listening to my own dumbness - but every time it happened I learned and  understood more about my subject.

In the same way, I learned how to teach. Oh, I had studied teaching ( which was and is rare for a university teacher). That teacher training was important to get me started. But my real learning came from ever day I taught. I still have a long way to go. I've come to realize the university history we're taught is close to useless - and I'd love to study ways to change it. (Alas! Univesities aren't much interested in teaching.)

So, you're right Jana. Teachers should be encouraged to specialize, especially from high school on. Then comes the tough part, getting the noses of outfits like Atlantic Institute of Market Studies out of the details of what they teach, and how they teach.

Ah! I loved teaching. Miss it terribly.

There's really not much else in the paper. Prince Charles and Camilla will get a walking tour of St. John. That should be well worth the million dollars it's costing us. Maybe they can even take a healthy, deep-breathing jog through the refinery district.

There's little else worth reading in the paper. Bill Belliveau has an interesting column on MHS and Highfield Square, the most original column I've seen on the subject. Norbert Cunningham promises an interesting, good news column for Monday. I look forward to it.

The editorial is both unintelligent and profoundly disturbing. It's on the Transpo dispute, and it looks on the bus drivers as a commodity - just like carrots or I pods or chewing gum. As people, they have no worth at all. There only worth is what they can get in the market. Some people have the leverage to get a lot. Some don't. Tough.

I would like to know how much Al Hogan gets - because I suspect there are lots of people more qualified than he is who would do it for less.  I would also like to see an editorial on whether corporation executives and directors are worth the phenomenal raises they have received over the past 30 years.

Frankly, this habit of putting price tags on people, of making humans as disposable as plastic wrappers is beneath any system of ethics, morals and religion I know of. And this happens in a city so religious it supports a publicly funded, religious university that fines students for not attending chapel. What a pack of hypocrites!

And, sadly, I have to disagree with Gwynn Dyer when he says, terrorism is when somebody uses violence to achieve political ends and IS NOT OPERATING UNDER THE PROTECTION OF A SOVEREIGN STATE.

That is nonsense. Terrorism is the use of violence to achieve polical ends by spreading terror.  No sovereign state has the right to authorize anybody to practice terror. Wearing a uniform and acting under the orders of a president  while deliberately bombing civilians  is terrorism.

We hanged Naziis for doing that. We signed agreements (yes, the US, too), that such behaviour would be illegal. But we still do it on a msassive scale - and only the losing side gets hanged.

(George Bush and some of his staff were recently found guiltyof war crimes by a court in Malaysia. It was a perfectly legal and even eminent court. Of course, they're guilty of war crimes. All of them, including Bush, have cancelled trips to, among other countries, Spain because they were warned of the dangers of arrest under international law. Bush might have been arrested in Canada - but the Harper government intervened to protect him. And Bush killed one hell of a lot more people than Omar Khadr did. (Maybe if we tortured him the way Khadr was tortured, we could also get Bush to confess.)

Finally, a side benefit to reading the foreign press. India  has a severe literacy problem. (As does New Brunswick.)  So -they produce very short videos of people singing - with subtitles in the same language so people hear and see words at the same time.

Result?  In just 30 minutes of viewing per week, the rate of literacy is more than doubled to 56%. It's cheap. It's easily transportable. It requires minimal facilities - a great advantage in rural areas.  Tell you what, Mr. Alward, why don't you check out what's happening in the foreign press?

Relying on The Moncton Times and Transcript can stunt your growth.



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