Tuesday, July 1, 2014

July1: My old, high school song - and the future of NB education....

-----terrible mistake. When I finished my Saturday blog, I forgot to publish it. Just fixed that today.)

And now back to my high   school song...

(Tune:  The Caissons Go Rolling Along)

"Give a cry, give a cheer
 For the boys who drink the beer
In the cellars of Montreal High.
They are rough. they are bold
And the liquor they can hold
Is a story that's yet to be told......."

I still remember every word,  though I never even tried to memorize it. The same is true of Rudyard Kipling's "Gunga Din". I read it when I was eight, and fascinated by the wonders and glory (so I thought) of the British Empire. "You my talk of gin and beer
               When you're quartered safe out here
               Or you're sent to penny fights and Aldershot it.
               But when it comes to slaughter
               You will do your work on water
                And you'll lick the bloomin' boots of  'im that's got it."
When my parents had company, they would get me out of bed even very late, like 9:30, and I'd recite it.
I never even tried to memorize but, even though I haven't been asked to recite it for may years, I still remember it to the final lines...
"Thought I've belted you and flayed you,
By the living God that made you,
You're a better man than I am, Gunga Din."

But in high school, I had to memorize Shakespeare's "Full fathom five thy father lies...." I did memorize it, and got an A on the test. But I've never since been able to do more than the first three lines.

It was the same in other courses. It was all to be memorized (rote learning, it's called). I memorized for algebra, geometry. trigonometry, history, geography. Occasionally I even passed an exam in one of them. But within a very few years, I had forgotten it all. When I had children, I couldn't even help them with their grade eight algebra.

University was much the same. I passed a BA, but can't even remember the names of most of the courses.
In the MA, I developed a system for memorizing. And I got straight As. But I can't point to anything I learned.   In the PhD, I had one teacher who knew how to teach. I've never forgotten him or what he taught. But he stands alone.

And that takes us to Mr. Alward's "brilliant" plan to improve our schools. He claims a new, business-inspired system will improve learning.

We are assured that literacy will improve. Ir probably won't. In fact, it will probably take us way back over the decades to my childhood school days.

Learning is about logic, structure, presentation of ideas, understanding, intellectual sensitivity. School is not so  much about subjects as about as about mental processes. Canadian history is not about memorizing events - many of which are not true, anyway. It's about understanding how people behave. English is about developing insight, organization of ideas, expression of them.

So how do you measure progress? It varies from subject to subject, but generally you measure it by reading written work. If it meets certain standards, but no more, it's a C. Normally, a C to a C plus would reflect that.

However, not long ago, I was asked to write a report on grades in my history department. I was surprised to find that many faculty reported 80% As in their classes - and occasionally a hundred percent. To make it odder, such courses that get a reputation for  high grades attract lazy students who don't like to study. They call them "bird courses". And they were getting As, too.

In the US, it's an epidemic. Straight As are common.  B can be regarded as an insult. That's part of the reason why a semi-literate bozo like George Bush could get a master's degree in business from one of the most prestigious universities in the US.

With a reality like that, you cannot measure improvements with any accuracy at all. And the very idea you can do it within 1 or 3 percentage points is laughable. A statistician needs numbers to work with.

So, what you do is give true and false tests. You're right or wrong. There's a number to work with.

Oh, but it's useless. The only way to prepare students for an exam like that is to teach them to memorize. And, if you do that, you aren't teaching them anything to develop their minds and their skills.

Yes, you will get a number at the end. It might be 1% improvement. It might be 80% improvement. But in either case, it won't mean a damn thing about how much they're learned, just what they've memorized and will forget after the exam. So why are we doing this to our children?

Because business and, notably, the Irvings and others are working to take over the schools for private profit. That's why began interfering with them, largely through the Atlantic Institute of Market Studies,
some years ago. That's why they've been assuming the right to rate schools, (using methods that show a towering ignorance of education.) That's why we're getting compulsory courses in entrepreneurship to be taught in all grades, from K to 12. That's why we're having people who have never studied education and never taught given authority to run schools (and hospitals) along business lines. The theory is that business methods work for everything. (Read Norbert's propaganda columns.)

They don't work for everything. They convert your children into dollar signs to benefit a very few who are greedy. They don't give a damn for the well-being of our children. I don't know whether they're evil. But they're certainly stupid.

In any case, I suspect the reading problem is not something to be fixed by the schools. Let's look at ourselves. This is not an intellectually active province. Thinking, learning, open discussion are not common activities. The only newspapers specialize in trivia, propaganda and outright lies. The only Canadian legislature of lower quality I have seen was in PEI. But, in fairness, that was over forty years ago.

Schools cannot cure that atmosphere. However, we should certainly be active in fighting the damage that greedy people are doing to our children. Alas! The only agencies we have in place to do the job are school boards of no great intelligence, and Home and School and Parent's Associations, who waste our time with chatty tea meetings, and with raising money for supplies that a government should be supplying.

God forbid they should do anything useful.

As you might guess, there's little in yesterday's or today's paper to talk about.

Monday's paper has a back page opinion piece by the associate director of Fiscal Studies for the Fraser Institute (like AIMS, it's a propaganda house for big business). He pleads the case for to lower taxes for multi-millionaire hockey players. I wept as I thought the the hardships they must endure.

Tuesday's paper has an op ed by Pat Graham, the ombudswoman for Irving press. It's on news stories about tragedy; and it's well worth a read. (ms. Graham has a solid reputation as a journalist across Canada.) The only problem I have with it is that the sort of handling she talks about is not what I saw in the TandT on the recent RCMP shootings.

The same paper has Norbert's column in which he claims pride in our systems of EI, Medicare, mass university education and women's liberation. Think about it, Norbert. All of those were accomplished with no help from big business but, indeed, much opposition for it. In fact, it is actively interfering in at least three of them to weaken them.

Oh, and tell Norbert that peacekeeping for our military was abandoned decades ago when we became toadies for US foreign policy. The last use of "peacekeepers", in Haiti, was a fraud. It was used to cover the illegality of the American invasion of Haiti so they could deport a president who wouldn't take orders from Washington.


And you must read the best letter to the editor I have ever seen."Few are happy on 'Turtle Island Day'". It's in Tuesday's paper - and it's a statement of the millions of tragedies we have caused around the word. And we never think of our responsibility for them - and rarely even acknowledge them.

The letter is about native peoples in Canada. But it could be about China or Africa or South America or the Middle East. For centuries, the west has murdered, destroyed societies, created chaos, taken slaves, plundered land. It began with hundreds of millions, and is now over a billion people whose shattered societies have left them with nothing but misery, chaos, violence and suffering.

Our history books give the impression we and our ancestors spread civilization. The reality is we destroy it. And, oh, the damage lasts for centuries.

And we blame them for it. Look at the mess that is Africa and the middle east. We created that. Look at the poverty and misery of much of South America. We did that - and we're still doing it. We blame our native peoples for their defiance when we should be blaming generations of Canadians for theft and abuse.

Anyway, take a look at the letter. The writer is Dan Ennis of Tobique First Nation. And if our children's education were controlled by people like him rather than Irving toadies, we might make some progress.


  1. Rockefeller supposedly confided to film director Aaron Russo his team of ad people were partially responsible for women's lib.

    (If this is true, then it was simply another in a longer line of central bank attacks on the traditional family.... in order to eventually destroy America, etc. )

    Not to worry however, CBC is now relentlessly fulfilling that role in Canada...and are attempting to blur these lines further...with no traditional mother or father authority figures in one's life, the new citizen can turn to the nanny state for final authority)

    Earlier, Edward Bernays created the 'Freedom Torches' march.

    So, was women's lib big business inspired?

  2. If business was inspiring women's lib, it was jumpong on a trend, not creating one.

    I've been listening to old time radio (1940s-1960s) a lot recently. Take, for example, a show like Gunsmoke. Though it's transparently a cigarette ad, it is surprisingly progressive.

    The same is true of a lot of OTR. The writers - many of them women - used the shows' desire to market products in order to insert progressive messages. For a period of time (during the Korean War) these messages were inserted by government sponsors.

    My take is that women's lib and feminism appeared *despite* the best efforts of business, not as a result of them.

    1. Women's Lib goes way back before big business latched onto it.

      Until the end of the 19th century, women were simply servants in their own homes. Working women were frowned on; and usually could get jobs only doing manual labour at low, low wages.
      The one, respectable women's job was teaching. But the pay was very low. they were usually limited to the lower grades, and were denied administrative posts. Commonly, they had to get the approval of school boards for dates.

      And women in general were not permitted to even discuss politics.

      The first breakthrough, perhaps, was the prohibition movement in which women (perhaps for their purity) were permitted to become active. It was also a movement endorsed by most churches by the 1970s and 80s.

      That opened doors for women in areas of social programmes - and drew them into at least a non-voting role in politics.

      Business came into it later - through the typewriter and the telephone. Typewriters came into use largely in the early 1900s. Until then, secretaries had been been. But women could be had cheaper. For the first time, women could work in business, if at low pay, and work in a dignified atmosphere with "gentlemen".
      They got into the telephone business as operators for much the same reasons.

  3. I'm not sure its that black and white. Women's liberation goes a LONG way back, but more importantly it was gaining traction at the same time that other social movements were gaining traction-the environomental movement, the civil rights movement, the peace movement. So as the 'least' threatening to business of those others, its possible a large conglomerate could focus on that to show its 'progressive'. Sort of like how today gay marriage is practically considered the hallmark of social progress even while natives, the poor, and marginalized cultures are still robbed of basic rights. However, there certainly needs to be a lot more evidence than some rich guy saying something. Bill Gates takes credit for the PC too, but that doesn't make it true. But of course he's got that 'partially responsible' line in there, so he has an easy out.

    But people really shouldn't under estimate the power of madison avenue. I'm in landscaping and I've studied for years about how the modern 'lawn' was brought into being. In those early days people didn't even LIKE the COLOUR green, so they had to spend millions in the fashion industry to first get people to simply like the colour.

    The idea that 'central banks' wanted to destroy nuclear families needs a LOT of supporting evidence, I haven't seen ANY.

    It makes about ZERO sense to talk that way about the CBC, taking for example the latest email scandal, the CBC certainly hasn't been leading that charge, that happens by people in social media. The idea of two parents as an 'authority figure' is outrightly ludicrous. If there is only one parent, then one parent is the authority figure. If they are two gay parents, then two authority figures of the same sex. And the idea that the 'state' is the ultimate authority figure is pretty obvious by about grade six, or the first time a kid meets a police officer.

  4. What's going on here? Second time a comment I was attempting to leave simply disappeared.

    I see some don't understand the CBC the way I do.

    Who's to say who has the correct perspective, right?

    However, allow me to educate you through my eyes and how I see the CBC.

    Like many people in Canada, I grew up in a household with a fond attachment to CBC radio.

    As a result, I grew to have a fondness for CBC radio as well. I looked forward to listening to interesting conversations on many a topic.

    However, CBC has changed. It has nothing to do with gay, or not gay. CBC itself has changed, and not for the better.

    Today, the world of information is at our fingertips. As a result, I find myself an inquisitive researcher of sorts.

    But, what I see, read, and hear has no resemblance to what CBC is putting out there as 'information'.

    If anything, it's quite the opposite.

    To the informed observer, CBC purposely adopts a position as a great cheerleader for minority rights, but this is unfortunately where truth and reality comes to an abrupt end. (I'm all for minority rights myself - as in everyone should have the right to self-determination)

    However, CBC's coverage of minority rights is an easy cover. It costs very little to do, and yet has the advantage of persuading certain members of the public they are a progressive institution.

    Then tell me this?

    Why is CBC constantly regurgitating Washington's hollow propaganda and lies?

    Is it because CBC truly cares about human rights?

    Why are they lying about Syria? Lying about ISIS? Lying about the Ukraine?

    I could go on with a huge list...

    It might not be a big thing if innocent people weren't being slaughtered!

    Including untold numbers of children, but when you have your nation's own public broadcaster directly covering for geo-political, resource-driven murders, and/or the outright destruction of whole nations, it becomes a serious matter indeed.

    On the other hand, many of CBC's crop of new producers and broadcasters are doing a wonderful job in engaging with everything superficial.

    I charge; by covering for Washington's violent crimes of aggression, the CBC is also engaging in a crime against humanity, and a crime of purposely providing calculated disinformation against the Canadian populace.

    But, they appear to have many fooled into thinking they actually care...

    BTW, I'd sent a long list of charges and complaints to the CBC Ombudsman in the past. Long story short, dissatisfied with the response, I did some digging, and came to realize the CBC is corporately controlled beyond Canadian borders.

    Ask yourself; why has the Bank of Canada's original role been hijacked?

    1. Well, as I've said, it can see problems at CBC. But they aren't because of news staff. The ones I've seen begin a the top level of management. All he news staffers I've know have been pretty good. But the top management is very conscious of not offending anybody who has political connections.

  5. People who read comments and media decide for themselves what they think is correct. The comment about CBC said that 'they were fulfilling the role of the central bank in destroying america and the traditional family'. If you want people to believe that, then provide evidence. I have lots of criticisms of CBC as well, the Current is their flagship program, last week they had "Project Money", one of those shows was basically about why we should feel sorry for all those young good looking people who have recently gotten filthy rich. So I have LOTS of criticisms of CBC, however, 'destroying america and the traditional family' certainly isn't one of them, but I very much agree with the criticism that they have turned into a Oprah league softball team rather than a hard hitting investigative news organization. Whether thats from design or lack of funding I have no idea.

    As for the other comments, its a rhetorical device to ASK readers questions as if the answers are somehow readily apparant or meaningful.

  6. PS, I think the Toronto Star does a far better job of news coverage than the CBC does. The website in New Brunswick is a joke that rarely discusses important events, and lets people comment on almost none of them.

  7. Much, too much, of what is said above is true. Its budget, its very life is controlled by politicians who want to destroy it. And that does drive it away from stories it should cover. I remember that all too well going way back to the 1870s when I worked for it.

    It has become even tamer over the years. What's left is, I think, better than any other major news source in North America. But much of that is because the rest are so bloody awful.

    Later, perhaps today, I shall have kind words for at least one columnist at the Toronto Star.

    To John. Sorry to read you're having problems. As I recall, you once said you wanted to get in touch with me by E mail. I was reluctant to put my e mail address out there. But my phone number is safer. Give me a call at 862-1497.

  8. Thank you Graeme for your kind offer.

    By tomorrow evening I should be able to find a few minutes to take you up on it.

  9. Mikel - I like to give everyone a chance, but I don't have the time to show you how to use the Internet to provide you your 'evidence'.

    It's only been 13 + years since 9/11. Ample opportunity for everyone with any intellectual capacity to see the warehouse of information available on this subject.

    To individuals such as myself, it's become overwhelmingly obvious our society is quite ill.

    We are living in a media-induced illusion. To my mind its also childishly transparent.

    But it's difficult to lay the blame at the everyday person.

    Most people don't want to be bothered with this knowledge.

    It's a sour taste in one's mouth and stomach.

    They'd rather have a life and enjoy it, lest a messenger comes along informing them, there is no democracy.

    It's an illusion you are conditioned to believe.

    I could give you a simple test.

    I could ask you whether or not you believe the official story of 9/11?

    I could ask you the same with the Boston Bombing,

    I could ask you the same with the Sandy Hook school shooting in Connecticut.

    I could ask you where you stand on Obama.

    I could ask you where you stand on Harper.

    I could ask you where you stand on the EU.

    I could ask you where you stand on the American Constitution's Second Amendment.

    Your answers will tell me where your coming from.

    I know where Canadian mainstream media stands on these issues...

  10. Where I'm coming from isn't really relevant, I don't 'stand' anywhere on almost all of those, I don't really think much about them. I don't even know what the US 2nd amendment even is, its not my country, I tend to focus on things I can do something about. As for canadian media, I virtually never even hear 'obama' even mentioned, but all of those seem to be pretty broad topics, so it would depend on what aspect of them.

    I was just pointing out that if you make a statement and want it believed then you should provide evidence and "you have the internet so it should be obvious" doesn't really cut it. I see no evidence that CBC is trying to 'destroy america' OR 'the family'. That was my simple point, none of these other topics were even mentioned.

    For the blogger, I really do have to disagree about the CBC. The Toronto Star is MUCH better, and for North America, though I haven't listened in a long time, "democracynow.org' is head and shoulders above the CBC even though they rely only on private donations.

    Even though they don't have much of an american operation, even al jazeera covers north american stories much better, heck even the Huffington Post does a better job. As I think you pointed out awhile ago, even the indy media or co op media in Moncton had coverage that was better than CBC. During the fracking standoff there was much better coverage by social media, CBC"s coverage was just pathetic, and they cover the Moncton tragedy just as swarmily as the Irving press does. But I suppose thats just opinion and 'nitpicking', but CBC is pretty bad, but I'm really trying to remember a time when it was REALLY good and can't think of one.

    I can still remember on The Current when they had a guy who had done a study on the bank bailouts for the Pembina Institute, and she literally said "there's no story here" after the guy had just finished explaining that at one time the government 'loaned' enough money to the CIBC to essentially let canadians OWN the bank. Anna maria's reasoning was that "well, no canadian banks went bankrupt right?", even though Canada has essentially six or seven banks which were all bailed out through the CMHC, and about six banks went bankrupt in the US out of THOUSANDS of banks, so that was really nonsensical. But what really surprised me was the really ruthless way she was attacking this guys' completely reasonable points, as if the CBC had walking orders that "we must portray canadian banking policy as being superior". No REAL journalist would have discussed that story in that way, and thats the CBC's flagship newshow.

    Anyway, thats just my opinion.