Wednesday, April 16, 2014

April 16: It starts on p.1....

Go to the bottom of page 1 of Section A.  "Proposed high school changes are discussed".

I have spent my life in education. So I read that rather long story. And I haven't the faintest idea what it's about.

Okay. They're changing the curriculum. Why? It doesn't say. Exactly how are they changing it? Well, there's new numbers on some of the courses The only clue as to what it's all about is to "improve student achievement". (Well, I never thought it was to worsen student achievement.") But what do they mean by student achievement?

Well - it's to score higher marks on standardized tests. That means it is about forcing teachers not to teach students or to teach learning, but to teach them how to score higher on exams that may or may not mean any learning at all. What the exams do is to give us a number for each student which makes it easy to collect statistics. What does it mean about learnng? Who knows?

It's a business method of measuring the quality of work. It's one of doubtful value for business - and it is really destructive of good teaching. But it's a triumph for the likes of Atlantic Insitute of Marketing Studies which  has been muscling in on our schools and our children for years.

This is a simple-minded approach to teaching. It's good for turning out standardized products like hairpins. But our schools are not, I hope, in that business.

The person who explained this to the reporter was the acting director of curriculum. So why did the acting director become responsible for this programme? Easy. Because the boss told Alward to order it, and Alward told the acting director to get on her horse, and do what the boss said to do.

The page editor should have realized this story would be unintelligible to virtually all readers. He should have gone over the story with the reporter to work out questions that had to be asked. He, and the reporter should have demanded clearer language. That would give us something to understand. It would also provide an essential element in the reporter's training. They don't come out of jourmalism school all expert. They need the advice of the editor as an essential part of their training.

But the TandT editors don't seem to do that. I don't know whether it's laziness or ignorance, but that essential element of a reporter's development doesn't happen at the TandT.

The rest of section A is understandable - but not worth understanding.
The most dangerous military confrontation in world history has been heating up in Ukraine. That won the story of it a spot on p. C4. Page C1 was taken up with more important stories like Jim Flaherty's funeral, and NB teachers' pensions.

The story has surprisingly little to say - and all from a western point of view. Some of it is even amusing, depending on how dark your sense of humour is.

The president of Ukraine said that they had to send troops to deal with terrorists paid for by the Russians, and to stop terror and to provide law and order.

Well, that is kinda funny coming from a president who was put into power by terrorists in the streets of Kyiv who were paid for and organized by the US. The staged a coup against the government, then illegally installed a president and a list of cabinet ministers who were never elected. Democracy in action.

Propagandists work hard to create hatred of the other side, usually going as far as racism to do it.

But the reality is that the people of the US and  Russia, like those of much of the world, are very, very similar to each other. And the governments are identical.

Brian Cormier's column on op ed is a pleasant reminder of an age when the sun shone brighter, and singers knew how to sing, and songs actually had tunes. It's about the Nana Mouskouri concert. She was brilliant at twenty. She still is at eighty.

Alec Bruce's column should be in every paper across the country. It's been long demonstrated that Harper has a profound contempt for democracy. His Bill C-23 utterly destroys it in Canada with an attack on the electoral process so anti-democratic that even Conservative senators are in revolt.

It's important to read this column to see what is wrong ( and dangerous) in what Harper proposes to do to our election laws - all of it clearly aimed to make illegal behaviour at elections unprosecutable,  and to favour the parties of the very, very rich.

Norbert's column is the worst I have ever seen in a daily newspaper in any country. It is pure rant and ignorance and name-calling.

As a mild opener, he says the CBC's poisoned relationship with Harper is the CBC's fault. Oh, bullshit, Norbert. Harper has hated the CBC from birth. It's a part of his ideology to hate anything that is not privately owned.

So Norbert says he is going to deal with shallow ideologues from both sides or the question. Norbert, YOU are a shallow ideologue from one side.

"The CBC should help tame the information chaos, as all media do....:

Norbert, you of all people have the gall to say that. You work for and represent the "values" of a news network that exists to spread lies, propaganda, and trivia, withholding news of any importance. And some of the statements (most) make no sense at all.

Norbert admits that CBC radio is better than commercial. Well, that's putting it mildly. But he does admit it. Then he says it's still not better enough, so it should be scrapped. Do you ever think of what you're saying, Norbert? If CBC should be scrapped, even though it's better than commercial radio - well - just using our little heads here - the logical conclusion is that ALL radio should be scrapped. What moron scraps only the best?      

CBC is ideological and biased? Norbert. You work for the Irving press. And you accuse somebody else of being ideological and biased?

Norbert, you are an idealogue =- neither a bright one  nor an informed one. But you are clearly an idealogue. Norbert, you are so biased, we need a stronger word. The same is true of almost everyone in the whole Irving press.

The same is true, as numerous studies have shown, of virtually all news media across North America. Bias and propaganda are the norm. Of all news media in North America, CBC is probably the most professional, and the least ideological or biased.

"We know who and what we are and get on with life, shaping our culture as we go.' Really?

1, How do you know that, Norbert? How could you possibly know?
2. And exactly what does that mean? Can you tell us who and what we are? I can't. not for Moncton, and certainly not for all of Canada. We get on with life? Well, yeah. So does most of the world. And culture? I have spent years on conferences about culture. I never met anyone in all that time who actually knew what the word culture meant. Would you care to write an op ed on exactly what  culture is? Do you and I have the same culture, Norbert?

And whatever culture may mean, there are a great many of them in Canada, not just one. Cultures of the rich, the poor, of English, of French, of Italians, of Japanese, of native people, and on and on. Do you have the same culture as a shale gas protestor, Norbert?

This isn't a column of any sort. This is an ignorant rant, almost a drunken one, by a man who knows almost nothing of the subject, and doesn't begin the understand most of the words he uses.

oh, yeah - and the NDP  "waffle" group was just 'shallow nationalists and anti-Americans'. Really.

I knew many of them, Norbert. Far from shallow they were a hell of a lot better educated than you. They knew the meanings of words they used. They knew far more about Canada than you do. They weren't anti-American. They were anti those Americans who bombed and napalmed and chemically poisoned men, women, children, babies by the million.

Perhaps you will some day pay us the honour or writing a column on why you are pro those Americans who bombed and napalmed and chemically poisoned men, women, children and babies by the million.



  1. The only two criticisms I can come up with are that I went to school in the New Brunswick school system. There has ALWAYS been a curriculum, and it was always geared towards tests and exams. I don't dispute that its idiotic to 'educate for standardized tests', but there is no real difference between 'standardized' tests, and just plain tests. Teachers have never been just allowed to teach, and from my experience its in general a good thing they didn't.

    Second, its too bad that you don't cut and paste some quotes from Alec Bruce if its that good, because back to my old complaint, you are actually doing Irving a favour telling people to go buy their rags just for one article. No thanks.

    As for democracy, again, check out the new book "Failure of the Commons", which is interviews with former MP's. Its true that Harper's proposals are idiotic, but they mainly deal with electoral procedures, which are the least of our problems. So its sort of like when Saddam Hussein had an election where 98% of the people voted for him, and then arguing that the electoral procedures were the problem. Its silly there, its silly here. Things like vouching are just a red herring. Homeless people don't vote, never have. And its not particularly difficult to bring a piece of paper with your address on it. Again, not that its GOOD, or that Harper is a 'fan' of democracy, but this really has NOTHING to do with 'democracy'.

    1. I like the idea of cutting and pasting Alec Bruce. The problem is he doesn't often write one-liners. His whole column in one piece - and I suspect it's illegal to publish the whole thing.
      However, it's a good idea; and I'll look for a chance to do it.

  2. Harper has an ego larger than the size of our country. His thirst for power can never be quenched. His appetite for control can never be satisfied. His desire to remain the dictator that he is will end not soon enough. Harper is anti-Canada, anti-democracy, anti-human rights, and anti-environment. In short, he is a bully who's ignorance is unmatched.

  3. I think that languages, mathematics, and critical thinking need to be the basis of our education. Our education system is currently producing students who have mediocre writing and math skills. We also need to encourage students to learn these skills and to foster an urge to analyze and understand the topics presented by the teacher.

    1. If I had to single out one from your list, it would be critical thinking. It can (and should) be taught in the context of other courses like History, English. It often isn't because so many professors have given little thought to how to do it. Others confuse critical thinking with have the same opinions the teacher does.