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


Double Cohort Triple Trouble?

As an educator and the parent of a double cohort student, I found “Double Trouble” (Professionally Speaking, March 2001) to be an excellent discussion of a timely topic. One aspect of the issue that needs to be addressed is the school entry age. Personally and professionally, I generally support the move to a four -year high school program. However, with the elimination of the fifth year, there should be a companion change to Kindergarten entry and some formal consideration for students already in school. Beginning with current Grade 10 students, thousands of graduating Ontario senior students will be only 17 years old. Many of them will not turn 18 until late December. The article alludes to the negative soft effects on students who have no choice but to leave home to attend college or university. With a more rigorous and demanding curriculum and only four years of high school, the last date of school entry should be changed from December 31 to August 31 or early September. I suspect that the additional physical and emotional maturity of students would pay large dividends throughout their K-12 journey. We already see gender and age differences in students’ ability to grasp mathematical and linguistic concepts at certain stages of brain development. Do we know how the youngest of our students can manage the increased curriculum demands throughout the K-12 years? For now, parents of “fall babies” need to be informed of the potential difficulties their children could encounter and they should the have the option of delaying school entry for a vulnerable group that could ultimately be in Triple Trouble.

Mark Grimstead
Mark Grimstead is principal of VK Greer Memorial School in Utterson.

Look Outside Ontario

I read with interest the “Double Trouble” article in the March 2001 issue of Professionally Speaking. I have been hearing discussion on this issue in the staff room, in professional publications and in the news since I first arrived in Ontario to start teaching in 1999. Throughout all these forums, I have heard little discussion of one fact. The double cohort is an Ontario issue, not a Canada-wide issue. Although this seems like a simple statement, it has important ramifications. There are many excellent universities outside Ontario, both large and small, to which students in the double cohort can apply. There are more opportunities for university than many students consider. Universities outside Ontario will not feel the effects of the double cohort nearly as much as Ontario universities. Being from the East Coast, I have first hand knowledge of the high quality of several eastern universities. The smaller universities provide excellent undergraduate programs in a small community setting, and the larger universities offer undergraduate degrees as well as a range of graduate programs (medicine, law, science and arts doctorates, etc.). I have been discussing this with my students and suggest that other teachers do the same.

G. Bradley Yhard
G. Bradley Yhard teaches Chemistry and Mathematics at MacLachlan College in Oakville.

No Surprise

In regards to “Teacher Education Applications Drop Despite Excellent Job Opportunities” (Professionally Speaking, March 2001), I do not see why this should come as a surprise to anyone, especially to those in our field. It’s rather obvious to me and my peers that the last 10 years have not been conducive to inspiring young people to join our ranks. I may sound cynical but having taught for almost 22 years in this province, my last 10 have been my most stressful and yet, with everyone talking about and trying to promote education reform and improvement it should be getting better, not worse. I used to think that teaching young minds was a special calling, a vocation, as some might say. Now, because of the constant bashing and loss of respect and appreciation for this so-called profession, morale has never been lower and the desire to leave teaching has never been higher. Sure, one could argue that the business world and corporate North America has lured many possible candidates away from this career, but that is more of a symptom than a reason. When I close my classroom door and look out at those eager young faces, I still get excited about being a part of their lives and possibly making a positive difference in those lives, no matter how small or insignificant that difference or effect may be. But I only wish I could turn back the clock about 10 years, to the time when teaching and teachers were seen as they should be, one of the most important and well-respected aspects of a society. So you see, it’s really quite simple. All we have to do is put respect back into the system, stop telling teachers that they’re underworked and overpaid and try to bring back this most important profession as a vocation, and we will then be on the road to recovery. And yes, young people will be lining up to fulfill that very special life task – touching the lives of our young people, our future!

Ed Mizzi
Ed Mizzi teaches Geography at Notre Dame Secondary School in Burlington.

Not So Excellent

In response to “Teacher Education Applications Drop Despite Excellent Job Opportunities,” I have to respond that the opportunities are excellent in that there are a lot of them, but they are not excellent jobs. As long as working conditions continue to deteriorate, there will be problems attracting people to our profession. The universities and College of Teachers should stop pretending that they can deal with the problem and put pressure in the only place that can have an effect: the government of Ontario.

Jan Hansen
Jan Hansen is a Grade 7 Special Education teacher at Balmoral Drive Senior Public School in Brampton.

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