Numbers, new teachers, great work
Crucial message missing
I was thrilled to see an article on the JUMP math tutoring program (March 2007), but thought the article largely missed a key point of the program. The power of the JUMP method doesn't lie in discovering a few students who are surprisingly good at math, but in dispelling the powerful and crippling myth that most people simply aren't good at math. Your article failed to highlight this crucial and controversial message.
Patrick Reynolds is a PhD candidate in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Queen's University.
Get the data right
Although I don't hold a doctorate in graph theory, I am sufficiently data literate to have serious questions about the data included in Discovering Math Prodigies (March 2007). At first glance much of the data seems quite compelling. The graphs of EQAO scores show dramatic jumps in Grades 3 and 6 before and after JUMP.
However, closer examination reveals several shortcomings. The graphs pertain to only a handful of schools, begging the question, “Do these graphs show a representative sample, or a skewed advertising claim?” Further, the graphs include no contextual data to support (or contradict) connecting the rise in EQAO scores with JUMP. Finally, as is acknowledged in the article, making comparisons of year-to-year EQAO scores is a poor way of measuring progress.
Paul Gautreau is an elementary math consultant with the Ottawa Catholic DSB.
Hire new teachers for LTO positions
In Transition to Teaching: The best and worst of times (December 2006) there was no mention of a phenomenon which is a contributing factor to the frustration felt by newly certified teachers who do not have regular full-time employment. The hiring of retired teachers to fill LTO and daily occasional positions can undoubtedly remove an opportunity for new teachers to earn a decent living. It is one thing to hire a retired teacher in a situation where no other qualified teacher is available. It is quite another to make it a practice to hire a retiree before giving the opportunity to a newly certified teacher. Every retired teacher who is employed full-time potentially takes away a position from a newly certified teacher.
If newly certified teachers cannot find regular full-time employment after one, three, five, seven years or more, we risk losing them to other jurisdictions. Their disillusionment may even drive them to change careers. In the province of Ontario, can we afford a teacher shortage?
Let us not forget the number of doctors and nurses trained in Ontario who earn their living elsewhere.
Delia Berardi is head of modern languages at Assumption College School in Brantford.
There are not enough words to commend Dave Robinson for his inspiring work to promote the trip to France for thousands of Canadian students to “remember Vimy Ridge” (December 2006). I have never met this man but it is obvious that he has worked so hard with a great team of teachers and others to pull this off. Students who often find it hard to get interested in history now have a way to make it real, and will also have an understanding of what it means to stand up for one's country. Mr. Robinson should be honoured for this amazing endeavour that will be life-lasting for the youth of Canada.
Brenda Smith taught in the RPN program at Huron Heights Secondary School in Newmarket and is currently director of the Simcoe Muskoka East Parry Sound Palliative Care Network.
Thank you for publishing the compelling article on teachers in Afghanistan by Sally Armstrong (December 2006). The article highlights, once again, the urgency in providing education – the only way to elevate a child, a community, a nation. Teachers may be interested in knowing there is a comprehensive curriculum package available through the organization Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan. An edition that aligns with the Ontario curriculum is currently being produced. The article certainly brings new meaning to the concept of working conditions for teachers!
Madeliene Tarasick is a recently retired superintendent in the Limestone DSB. To find out more about curriculum resources from Women for Women in Afghanistan, go to www.w4wafghan.ca.