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December 1998

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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; e-mail:


Focus of College

Reading through the September ’98 issue of Professionally Speaking, I felt I was in the twilight zone. Never before has the difference in roles between the Ontario College of Teachers and the OTF affiliates been clearer.

Like thousands of teachers in Ontario, I am currently on strike. Many more are locked out, engaged in rotating strikes or working to rule. Something is dreadfully wrong with education in Ontario.

My understanding is that the College and Professionally Speaking have a responsibility to deal with issues "relevant to the future of teaching and learning." It is as though there are two separate universes of education. The truth is, however, there is one universe, and the one presented by Professionally Speaking is an illusion.

The College and Professionally Speaking need to get out of the twilight zone and onto the front lines.

Glenn Hayes
Glenn Hayes teaches English at Cardinal Carter Catholic High School in Aurora.
Editor’s Notes: Please see the Frequently Asked Questions.

Discipline Details Long Overdue

Thank you for all the information you print about the Ontario College of Teachers. The Blue Pages show the College at work, setting and maintaining standards. I may not always have time to read articles but I make time to look at the Blue Pages. They encourage me that we have a governing body ensuring excellence in teaching.

I am particularly pleased that the names of teachers who have received disciplinary action are published. I think this is long overdue because the general public, rightly or wrongly, has the impression that teachers’ unions work to protect teachers whose conduct is unbecoming, rather than doing what is best for students.

Publishing the names of those who have lost their teaching certificates and the reasons for the action is a significant step in making the College a truly professional body. All other professions have the power to discipline their members and all other professions publish who have lost their licence to practise. This ensures that the profession is aware that standards are adhered to and that there are consequences for professional misconduct.

Thank you for communicating the efforts taken by the College to keep teaching a proud profession.

Penelope McArthur
Penelope McArthur is an ESL teacher at East York Collegiate.

Why Names of Teachers?

While reading the article "Four Teachers Lose their Teaching Certificates at College’s First Public Hearings" (Professionally Speaking, June 1998), I became increasingly uncomfortable. It described the results of the College’s first disciplinary hearings in which four of my colleagues have had their teaching certificates revoked.

Apparently the Ontario College of Teachers Act requires this public disclosure to protect the public interest.

As a teacher in good standing, I fail to understand how the teachers’ names and reasons for dismissal are of interest to me. What good can come from public press in these matters? Surely, the name and reputation of each individual has been harmed enough by their actual dismissal, without sensationalizing it in a professional magazine.

Brenda Finch
Brenda Finch is a primary grades teacher at St. Mark School in Kitchener.

Safety in Lab

I am writing concerning the picture associated with an article titled "New Grades 1–8 Science and Technology is a Teachers’ Curriculum" in the September issue of Professionally Speaking.

When you get in a car, you should automatically put on a seat belt. When you visit a construction site, you should automatically put on a hard hat. When you use a wiper-sniper you should automatically put on goggles. When you use a chain saw, you should automatically put on goggles and ear protectors.

It is the nature of safety equipment that you are safest when you automatically use it.

Maximum safety in the science laboratory will only be achieved when the wearing of safety goggles becomes a stimulus response, not because what you are doing in that particular experiment is particularly dangerous, but so that when the accident that you didn’t foresee occurs, you will be protected.

I believe that as a teacher, the only way I can hope to achieve a stimulus response in my students is by consistently enforcing a policy requiring the wearing of goggles in the laboratory. Thus when I came across that article, I was particularly disturbed by a picture showing two young people, without goggles, in a laboratory setting holding up at eye level a graduated cylinder containing a liquid. There is no way to know how dangerous the liquid is, but even then, the eyes should be protected by goggles.

The printing of such pictures gives implicit sanction to what the picture portrays and pushes back the time at which all teachers and students everywhere in the province will have the opportunity to do science with maximum safety.

Garry Peddle
Garry Peddle is the chair of the writing team of the Science Laboratory Safety Manual at the Toronto District School Board. He is helping the College arrange pictures of good science practice.