Alan Gotlib, Music by Alice
Reviewed by Brad Ross
has been a fixture in schoolyards for generations.
Parents and teachers have attempted to deal with it
over the years, with varying degrees of success. Yet
it persists. So, why not let the children deal with
it? Let the victims and victimizers address bullying
head-on this time in the form of a musical
Alan Gotlib and Alice
Brass teach at Noth Yorks Claude Watson School
for the Arts. Their play "B" is for Bully,
written by Gotlib with music by Brass, offers an
artistic approach to resolving bullying, coupled with
a useful and workable study guide for teachers.
objects from school desks are being bullied by
Blanche (the whiteout), with the assistance of her
enforcer, Blade (the scissors). School children Colin
and Emily are experiencing a similar problem with a
bullying classmate. The scenes interchange as the two
groups work to resolve their dilemma.
Gotlib, who teaches
Grade 4 academics, French and drama, was a victim of
bullying himself as a child. He says he didnt
cope with it very well, and naturally saw the issue
of bullying as an important one for schools to deal
easy to become too preachy with kids," he says.
"Thats why I introduced objects in the
play it allows the children to distance
themselves and not feel theyre being hit over
the head with the issue."
The study guide, which
is included with the script and musical score, offers
a range of activities for teachers to use in
heightening students awareness about bullying
and how they might confront and solve the problem
themselves. "I dont know of any other
source that combines everything in one package: the
script, music, background information and
guide," says Gotlib.
"The whole package
is designed to be very teacher-friendly. There are a
lot of teachers who dont have a background in
the arts and, therefore, feel insecure about dealing
with it. But theres plenty in the package for
teachers to use beyond the production itself."
"B" is for
Bully was written for performers in Grades 4 through
6, though all ages come away with the key message,
says Gotlib: bullying can be stopped if enough people
take a stand.
"B" is for Bully is available at
Theatre Books and at the Childrens Bookstore,
both in Toronto. Or you can order it directly from
the author. Write to Alan Gotlib, 87 Monarch Park
Ave., Toronto, ON M4J 4R1; tel: (416) 466-7040; fax
(416) 698-2120 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
The teachers edition, including the play and
music, costs $34.95. A package of 16 scripts costs
$30. The accompaniment on audio cassette costs $10.
scénario pour un métier nouveau
Reviewed by Marie-Josée Berger
the 21st century draws nearer, and as education
evolves in response to an ever-changing society,
Philippe Meirieu makes a plea for the profession of
teaching. He invents a new scenario in which the
teacher guides students and helps them to make
discerning choices and take appropriate action by
referring them to the resources in their social,
economic and cultural environment. In this scenario,
everyday adventures and attention to people and
resources feed the profession of teaching. And it is
a profession in which the passion for learning is a
continual source of exhilaration.
Philippe Meirieu goes on
to explain that the role of a teacher is to
"learn how to teach by learning." In his
view, the unique nature of the profession means that
the contribution of educational partners such as
parents and the community should be subordinate to
teachers enthusiasm and requirements.
Meirieu proposes a
functional learning model based on situations that
let students deconstruct knowledge and discover their
own personal strategy. Meirieu also suggests
approaches for formulating instructions, adopting
winning strategies, teaching reading and identifying
the keys to success. He uses a methodology that asks
three fundamental questions: What is the task? What
is the problem? What is the situation? Students must
be able to visualize the expectations and criteria
that will help them determine whether or not they
have accomplished the task.
Some of the chapters
describe situations that relate to education in
France, and some of the terms are typical of European
educational vocabulary. However, the book discusses
universal topics, such as diversity in the schools
and family-school communication that are relevant to
education in any industrialized country. Meirieu
emphasizes teacher training. He advocates two
essential principles: learning-based training and
placing teachers in action research situations. He
also suggests working co-operatively to analyze
needs, interpret expectations, respond to demand and
solve professional problems.
All those debating the
role and mission of our schools are apt to find
Philippe Meirieus book profoundly
thought-provoking. He prompts discussion of an issue
that will always be timely: the profession of
Marie-Josée Berger is associate professor and
head of OISE/UTs Ottawa Valley Regional Centre.
God in the
& Stewart, Toronto, 1997
Reviewed by John Cruickshank
Sweet has written a most intriguing analysis of
as the cover states The Controversial
Issue of Religion in Canadas Schools. She
provides a current and comprehensive presentation of
the state of religion in both public and independent
schools, specifically in Canada, with reference to
examples in Europe, in an easy-to-read book.
The present state of
religion in Canadian schools is put into perspective
with specific discussion of the impact of guarantees
provided for in the British North America Act.
Although I was under what I feel is the generally
held belief that the entrenchment of these rights is
immutable, the author quite rightly makes the point
that times and circumstances have changed
significantly since the development of the BNA Act
and that changes can be justified.
The book provides
numerous specific examples of the experiences of
students who have attended independent religious
schools and publicly-funded separate schools.
Sweet is careful to
provide a balanced approach, highlighting both the
successful and unsuccessful experiences of students
in these settings.
She discusses the impact
of the extension of funding through to the end of
high school for separate schools in Ontario,
particularly in Essex County, and looks at how the
experiences of teachers transferred from the public
to separate system reveal the divisiveness and
controversy that usually surround any discussion of
the place of religion in schools.
Throughout the book
Sweet refers to the notion of "religious
literacy" which she describes as "
just a knowledge of ones own beliefs, but a
capacity to encounter and analyze respectfully the
religious views of others, and to see that enterprise
as personally worth while."
The author doesnt
advocate a system that promotes religious values but
one that supports a range of
religious perspectives that teaches respect for
religious thought and religious diversity through the
way in which children are taught and challenged to
think about matters."
Sweet believes that the
public school system is the best place for this to
occur, as the requirement for certified teachers and
an appropriate curriculum and standards can be
mandated. She also believes that the public school
system must change in order to reflect and
accommodate the many and varied religions and beliefs
that are present in Canada today.
She cites the Edmonton
School Board, where religious alternative schools are
available within the public school system, as a model
for "a more just and equitable system of
Sweet deals with the
traditionally controversial issue of religion in
schools in a reasoned manner in this book. In the
increasingly multicultural environment that we teach
in, and with a clear commitment to equity, I feel
that this book would not be out of place on any
teachers professional reading list.
John Cruickshank is the principal of Marvin
Heights Public School in Mississauga and Vice-Chair
of the Ontario College of Teachers.
Schools and Political Ideas:
Educational Policy in Historical Perspective
Toronto Press, Toronto, 1994
Reviewed by Nancy Page
Manzer is a political scientist who has studied over
a century and a half of public education policy in
Canada. In Public Schools and Political Ideas:
Canadian Educational Policy in Historical Perspective
he addresses issues like curriculum, district
organization, laws, finance and personnel for each
As the title indicates,
his work interweaves the historical contexts,
political ideas, and public beliefs that have served
as the underpinnings to Canadian educational
Manzer writes that
public schools have long been political symbols
agents of political consensus. "Decisions
over the form, content, and place of learning have
become broad political issues involving many ...
participants beyond teachers and students ..."
He examines the
influences of both religion and state in his attempt
to reach his objective: "to interpret the
political ideas that underlie educational
institutions and policies and give them meaning, both
for those who fought the battles, made the policies
and lived with the consequences (not necessarily the
same people) and for those of us who look backwards
trying to understand the implications of these
legacies from our past and forwards wondering what to
According to Manzer,
Canadian public educational policies have occurred in
four waves of liberalism: political, economic,
ethical and technological.
The first wave
political liberalism occurred in the latter
half of the 19th century. It was characterized by its
drive for a non-sectarian civic education that was
common to all schools. It never did succeed in its
attempt to obliterate conservative attachments to
communitarian values based on religion and language.
The second wave
economic liberalism occurred in the first half
of this century. It was characterized by its drive
for public education to meet the needs of an
industrial economy. It brought us separate academic
and vocational/technical schools, composite schools,
and large school districts to encompass both urban
and rural students. Class distinctions and a virtual
exclusion of business interests from educational
policy-making underpinned this idea and paved the way
for its successor.
The third wave
ethical liberalism occurred in the 1960s. It
was characterized by its emphasis on child-centred
learning and on curriculum and governance that should
respond to the distinctive needs of individual
children from diverse communities.
Manzer believes that we
are now entering a fourth wave technological
liberalism. It is characterized by its preoccupation
with the emergence of a global economy. Public
education must therefore become more effective and
efficient in preparing todays youth for a
highly competitive labour force. Standardized
teaching and measures of performance are deemed to be
superior techniques in achieving this goal.
Manzer does an excellent
job of putting educational policy in Canada into a
historical perspective. For this reader he helps to
make sense of the current educational trends and
changes of the 1990s. What is missing, however, is
the other point of view. Manzer mostly recounts the
final policies. Readers who want to know who the
adversaries were in various policy campaigns will
need to look elsewhere. Regardless, this is a
compelling and timely read.
Nancy Page teaches at Erin Mills Senior Public
School in Peel Region.