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 writers daytime phone
number. Letters should be addressed to: The Editor, Professionally Speaking, 121 Bloor
Street East, 6th Floor, Toronto ON M4W 3M5; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
The September issue of
Professionally Speaking appears to indicate a "paradigm shift" in your thinking.
At last you have produced an issue intended to meet our needs, rather than your needs.
This is a welcome and laudable change.
David Speirs is a special education teacher at Sutton District High School.
I follow the news on
"teacher re-certification" with both interest and more than a little
trepidation. Thanks for an interesting and informative article.
I am strongly opposed to written testing for all the reasons stated in
your article. As a teacher I am well aware of the limits of written tests but other
re-certification methods, while likely to foster more "real" professional
growth, will doubtless be more expensive and more difficult to manage. Is this the first
step on a spiral towards higher and higher costs for professional teacher certification?
And where is the evidence that such a process will have any useful impact on the education
our students receive?
What is the position of the College on this matter? Surely if we are
"self-regulating" then it must be the College that is the driving force behind
teacher certification. We can kindly thank the government for their considered opinion and
then get on with the job of making this a better profession for the benefit of all
Ontarians, not just for political points for Mr. Harris.
I am all for accountability in education, but it must be put to our
government in the strongest possible terms that it is the College that will decide the
hows and whys of such a matter.
Jon Butcher teaches physics at St. Andrews College in Aurora.
I havent even received my
copy of Professionally Speaking yet, but have been able to read all of the
articles via the College web site. I must say that the September 1999 issue is the very
best to date.
The numerous articles that focus on the students, as well as what it takes
to be an effective teacher taking into consideration the students point of
view are an excellent reminder of the kind of things that we all need to constantly
be aware of.
As teachers, we can have such an enormous effect on students by creating
an atmosphere of friendliness that helps students overcome the daily obstacles in their
lives that we are unaware of. Every morning for the last five years I have stood at the
front doors to the school and welcomed each and every student that enters the building.
I try to put a smile on their face. My smile and friendliness set the
tone, and they react in a positive way. From the loneliest student, to the most
self-conscious, to the most poorly behaved, they all appreciate respect. And they give it
Whatever stresses are put on me as an educator from working
conditions to politics and policies I can always get away from it all by being in
the classroom with the students I work for. They are the best thing about teaching! They
deserve to be treated respectfully.
Thank you for the excellent articles, and hats off to those who wrote
John Fredette is a technological teacher at Parkview Secondary School in
Discipline and Gender
The article "Gender Gap
Widening Among Ontario Teachers," in the June 1999 issue suggests that one reason men
may not be entering the teaching profession, especially at primary levels, is the
"fear of being seen as a child abuser or pervert."
All 18 disciplinary cases reported from September 1998 to June 1999 in
Professionally Speaking are about men. Seventeen involve sexual misconduct, 16 of
which are criminal. Appropriately, discipline panels revoked, suspended or cancelled all
17 teaching certificates.
Unfortunately, the six and one-half pages of reporting in four magazines
encourage daily news media to spotlight these anomalies within the teaching profession.
The Kitchener-Waterloo Record, for example, presented the following headline on October
14, 1998: "Sex Crimes Top List of Teachers Offences."
The article stated that an Ontario College of Teachers report "showed
sex crime is the No. 1 reason that educators lose their certification. In its first
disciplinary disclosure, seven of eight licence revocations stemmed from sexual assault,
sexual impropriety or sexual exploitation."
By magnifying the behaviour of these offenders, a dark shadow is cast over
teachers. Paranoia regarding the motives of male teachers is nurtured by the news
medias inclination to sensationalize the perverse and violent aspects of humanity.
The process victimizes us all: the public is afraid and distrustful, and male teachers are
The Discipline Committees own reporting style in Professionally
Speaking will fuel the suspicions. Its repetitious, aggressive formula
reinforces alarming negative impressions.
Readers lose sight of how few current teachers are before the Discipline
Committee and generalize about the profession, especially the male component. It should be
a foregone conclusion that people convicted of sexually victimizing children will not be
allowed to teach. The Discipline Committees findings in these cases echo our courts.
While due process is necessary within the operation of the Discipline
Committee, reports can be simplified notifications, especially in situations that do not
require extensive deliberation.
We cannot control the news medias reaction to disturbing reports
from the Ontario College of Teachers. Nor can we hide from the ugliness. But the College
should not underestimate its contribution to the development of a negative stereotype for
male teachers. Discipline panel reports must be limited to essential information. The
College of Teachers must, at all times, endeavour to properly frame the reality of the
Doug Cook is a special education teacher with the Upper Grand District Board