December 1997

Letters to the Editor


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Professionally Speaking welcomes letters and articles on topics of interest to teachers. We reserve the right to edit letters for length. To be considered for publication, all letters must be signed and provide the writer’s daytime phone number. Letters should be addressed to: The Editor, Professionally Speaking, 121 Bloor Street East, 6th Floor, Toronto ON M4W 3M5 or e-mail:

My wife and I are both elementary teachers at the Mount Isa School of the Air – located in the Australian outback. I have 14 years of teaching experience and my wife has been teaching for nine years.

The school we work at services a vast area of the western and northern region of Queensland and has approximately 110 families living mostly on sheep or cattle properties. We provide an education for students K-10 via correspondence papers and high frequency radio contact with the classes.

We would like to make contact with a teacher (preferably in distance education) who would be interested in negotiating for a teaching exchange from January to December in 1999.

Please contact us at: or P.O. Box 2964, Mount Isa, Q. 4825, Australia.

Peter and Beth Rutherford

I am a Spanish teacher of English at an Official School of Languages (a public school of languages) and am looking to swap my post on the sunny Tenerife Island (Canary Islands, Spain) for a similar one at a high school, language school or college in Canada. The exchange partner would teach EFL at an Official School of Languages in S/C de Tenerife and I would teach Spanish in Canada.

If you are interested, please e-mail Jose Guimera at before mid-February 1998.

Jose M. Guimera
Escuela Oficial de Idiomas de La Orotava
Tenerife - Canary Islands - Spain

I have just read the second issue of Professionally Speaking with much interest and I am writing to say that I think you and your team have done a superb job. It is extremely well presented and offers a good balance of articles and advertising.

I extend my best wishes to you and to those on the team.

H. Gordon McIntyre
H. Gordon McIntyre is Depute Registrar of the General Teaching Council for Scotland.

Upon receiving my first mailed copy of Professionally Speaking, I leafed through it enthusiastically, scanning articles and letters for relevant discussions. However, I almost immediately noticed that the character of the photographs was singular and disturbing. Except for a few pictures, none of the teachers shown were persons of colour. While this may well represent the present state of affairs in the general Ontario teaching population, my understanding is that initiatives are well under way in most regions of Ontario to encourage potential teacher candidates among Aboriginal, African-Canadian and other communities of colour. Significantly though, students of colour are frequently represented.

Potential teacher candidates must see faces like their own in trade magazines if we are to witness and encourage a shift in the balance.

Ian Turner
Ian Turner is a teacher/convener at Avondale School in North York.

I am hoping that the Ontario College of Teachers will benefit me in some way. I was annoyed when I discovered I had to pay a yearly fee to the College or else risk losing my standing as a teacher in Ontario. It is insulting to think that it is a fee that says I am a teacher, and not my training or experience. I expect to get my money’s worth.

I do find your magazine very informative. Our education system is going through some major changes and it is important for all of us (teachers, parents and taxpayers) to be aware and stay informed. I feel though, that your magazine is lacking in articles for those instructors who teach adults. While importance is placed on the education of children, we should not forget that family literacy is an important issue as well.

Grace Santeramo
Grace Santeramo is an ABL/ESL instructor at Flemington Adult Learning Centre.

Despite some apprehensions about the long term benefits of the Ontario College of Teachers, I enjoyed my recent read of Professionally Speaking. I found the articles interesting and informative and the artwork was well chosen.

My hope is that the fine looking members of our Council will be able to assist in promoting the teachers of Ontario as wonderfully caring and hardworking professionals, contrary to the current public opinion.

Robert Thompson
Robert Thompson teaches at W.E. Miller Public School in Timmins.

In her letter (Sept. 1997) Barb Warf speaks of student teachers who don’t know much math and want to teach the lower grades.

I have known high school math teachers who never had a math course in university. They were hired even though there were plenty of well trained math qualified teachers. Why? Some school boards deliberately hire such teachers to give easy courses to keep the students from dropping out.

I suggest that all teachers be required to post certificates showing which courses and levels they are qualified to teach; that school boards be prohibited from allowing teachers to teach subjects or grades for which they are not qualified when qualified teachers are available; that the province raise the university subject requirements to teach a subject in 7 – 12; and that candidates for teaching 1 – 6 be required to take math and language tests for admission to a teacher college.

Irma Cohen
Irma Cohen is a supply teacher of mathematics in the Ottawa-Carleton area.

Watching the birth of the Ontario College of Teachers and the development of its magazine Professionally Speaking I have nothing but praise for the results.

I am quite impressed and most encouraged by the article "Teachers’ Career Prospects Are Much Brighter as the New Century Dawns" in the September 1997 issue.

It is wonderful to have the former ‘bad news’ dispelled in clear, concise and factual terms.

Also, it is nice to learn that the Council amended a bylaw to remove the fee for name changes on the College’s registry. It is most considerate of the Council to do this as "it is mostly women in society who have to change their names."

I can’t believe I’m reading this in a teachers’ magazine. Women do not have to change their names.

It is nice to be more equitable but to indicate to our women teachers that women have to make this change is not very contemporary to say the least.

I would like to think that it was a poor choice of words.

Eldred Cook
Eldred Cook is a retired teacher.

I have enjoyed reading the recent issues of Professionally Speaking. I find the articles timely, informative, and entertaining. I especially applaud the addition of ‘Remarkable Teachers’.

My question is, what is your response to Minister Snobelen’s recently introduced Bill 160? Given that the College of Teachers’ mandate is to regulate the teaching profession, would any non-teachers that Mr. Snobelen puts into classrooms for the purpose of teaching subjects such as art, computers, library, etc. also be required to be members of the College? What need would there be for a College of Teachers if many of the people teaching in classrooms are not, in fact, teachers? How would these people be regulated and, more importantly, how will this improve the quality of education in the province of Ontario?

I look forward to your response.

Donna Lesperance
Donna Lesperance is a Grade 7 teacher at Dunning Foubert Elementary School in Orleans.

As I read through the September edition of Professionally Speaking, I was pleased to see our Chair’s letter to the Minister of Education and Training expressing concern over the lack of consultation in the development of the new Ontario Curriculum.

As the teachers of Ontario seem pressed by the government to take action in retaliation to many of the proposed changes, I would expect that the new body mandated to support the teachers of Ontario would respond as assertively as did the College of Physicians in opposition to the government’s efforts to modify the health system.

David Hutton
David Hutton is principal of Mountain Secondary School in Hamilton.

Is the College of Teachers considering including educational assistants in the College membership just as the College of Nurses includes RPNs? I think this is an important question for consideration while the College is still in its early stages of operation.

Danielle Renaud
Danielle Renaud teaches in the developmental services worker program.

Can you call what teachers do "artistic"? Rebecca Cossar in her recent article, "Capturing the Art of Teaching" (Professionally Speaking, September 1997) identifies the artistry of teaching as "spontaneous, engaging and intuitive…that leads to unforgettable learning experiences."

I would like to caution Ms. Cossar and others that to deem anything "artistic" requires an understanding of how to examine "the intricacies and complexities of an art form."

But we must not confuse a dedicated, skilled teacher with a romantic notion of artist. Their roles are not the same even if the language used to describe their affect is. One crucial aspect of the teacher’s role was noticeably absent from the article: evaluation. Artists have a very different relationship with their audience than teachers have with their students. Professional artists assess and are evaluated within their profession. However, the professional conventions, the rules of the art world, determine the form and objective of the evaluation.

The teacher’s role as an assessor and evaluator has very different intentions and results from those of the artist. Teachers are trained to evaluate learning but artists are trained to evaluate art. As professionals, teachers and artists are trained differently, play by different rules, with different expectations for their professional behaviour, goals and growth.

All of us can live and think and behave artistically without being artists, but not all of us can call ourselves professionals in education unless we are trained in the conventions, skilled in the practices, and value the goals of teaching as a profession. In this distinction resides all the ethical and practical problems of "differentiated staffing" policy now being touted by the Ministry of Education and Training.

It would be prudent for the Ministry of Education and Training to address only what is sound educational policy in its legislation regarding who shall teach and how to describe the teacher’s role in Ontario public schools.

The ministry must acknowledge the professional role of qualified, certified teachers, no matter what their education venue and according to their subject expertise.

Susan L. Brown
Susan L. Brown is the president of the Ontario Society for Education through Art (OSEA).