Survey, arts and technology

Professionally Speaking welcomes letters and articles on topics of interest to teachers. We reserve the right to edit letters for length and to conform to publication style. 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, Toronto ON M4W 3M5; e-mail:


Acknowledging Parents

As I read the feature article on the state of the teaching profession (September 2003) I was disturbed by the results of Q17 where 65 per cent of teachers indicated they felt more accountable to students than parents. This was especially startling since 60 per cent of respondents were elementary school teachers.

I thought it was agreed that the teacher is a proxy for parents, who entrust the education of their children to the school. I think most teachers understand they have been given this charge by parents, to whom they are ultimately accountable.

My hope is that the majority of teachers answered as they did due to their affection and concern for their students and not because they think their perception of the students' needs trumps the expectations of parents.

Lino DeGasperis is a former secondary school teacher, Niagara Catholic District School Board.

Downplay Middling Response

I just finished reading the September issue and found the article Teachers' Inspiration is in Helping Students particularly informative. As a retired teacher now working with teacher candidates at Queen's Faculty of Education I found it a revealing look at what teachers think of their profession and what it means to be a teacher.

However, I did find it rather ironic that the 15th question, which had to do with communications from the College of Teachers, was the only one that was not highlighted with a graphic display. Is this because the response was not as positive as it should be?

In the same issue the Chair of the College Council Marilyn Laframboise referred to the importance of frank and open communication with members. I am disappointed that Professionally Speaking did not see fit to accord this question the same communication value as others. Is there something to hide here? If so, that is not speaking very professionally, is it?

Jan Hartgerink is a retired elementary teacher, Limestone Distict School Board.

Making Art a Priority

Please accept this comment on Kids Just Want to Have Fun by Joyce Mason in your September 2003 edition.

The very fact that the arts are indeed major sources of delight and inspiration for students of all ages seems directly related to why they are so vulnerable to cuts. We are at the moment in a society that is cutting back on the role of schools in the lives of children. We seem to believe the purpose of education is to develop only the most basic of skills in reading, writing and mathematics. Everything else is left to the discretion and pocketbooks of parents.

The notion that school should have meaning for students has been pushed to the margins of political concern.

The author accurately paints a picture of decline in financial and resource support for the arts. This trend will only be reversed when the political will of Ontario citizens includes the idea that school experience should include meaningful, inspirational, delightful learning opportunities for all. Only then will we redefine the basics and acknowledge that the real efficiency of learning what is fundamental includes creativity and artistic expressiveness.

The needed shift in public will cannot occur soon enough.

Michael Wilson is an instructor in the Faculty of Education, University of Ottawa.

Training Daze

I am a 7th-year tech teacher and am beginning to get a little frustrated.

I am married with three kids and enjoy my job very much. I've been looking to take an ABQ to upgrade my qualification and am having a hard time doing so. The only ABQ available for tech is Communications or Tech Spec. I have no problem taking the Communications ABQ but it is only available in the summer.

School does not let out till 3:20 and teachers are supposed to work with teams and clubs after school, not to mention marking, improving curriculum and performing equipment inspections and repairs. Since online courses are almost non-existent and it takes time to commute, how can we take courses and still spend time with our families?

As you can see, or were probably already aware, this is a bit of a conundrum. As overseers you need to be putting more pressure on the facilities that supply the training, not those who need to take it.

Romeo Paul Gallant teaches in the Thames Valley District School Board.