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 our publication style. To be considered for publication, letters must provide the writer’s daytime phone number. Address letters to: The Editor, Professionally Speaking at or 121 Bloor Street East, Toronto, ON M4W 3M5.

The praiseworthy, the inadequate and the edifying

Changes to FSL programs

I was pleased to see the article, The Core of the Matter, in the December 2008 issue.

The article is timely, considering the FSL program and curriculum review at the Ministry of Education. Canadian Parents for French (Ontario) eagerly awaits changes that will make FSL programs more accessible and effective in reaching the federal goal of doubling the number of high school graduates proficient in both official languages by 2013.

There is much to be done to improve Ontario FSL results and correct present attrition rates. Currently, only six per cent of Grade 9 FSL students are still studying French when they reach Grade 12.

Thank you for the visibility given to French-language learning issues and for increasing awareness of their importance.

Monika Ferenczy is president of Canadian Parents for French (Ontario). She lives in Mississauga.

The remarkable Fred Kolar

I have just read, with great pleasure, the article about Fred Kolar, Russell Peters’s remarkable teacher.

This is my third year as principal at North Peel SS. Fred has been here a few more years than that. What is truly remarkable is that you could have approached dozens of top chefs, now scattered around the planet, who would say the same things Russell did. They come back – again and again – to touch base with this person who has been such an important part of their lives.

I have witnessed this more times than I can count.

Fred pays attention to each and every student and makes them feel appreciated. He takes great pride in his classes, and his students make a great contribution to our school. They prepare food for over 800 staff and students every day, and I see Fred impress on these young people the work ethic that is so much a part of who he is.

I feel truly lucky and honoured to have Fred Kolar on my staff.

Don Ablett is principal at North Peel SS in Brampton.

Native education

It is interesting that the only unit partly dedicated to Aboriginals at the elementary level shares curriculum expectations with European explorers. As there is no particular curriculum relating to Native Studies, Aboriginal history is included in other subject areas but encompasses a very diminutive section and is not offered evenly and consistently.

The lack of standardized and continued Native Studies undermines its importance.

While there are no specific courses or grade-specific expectations, Ontario teachers are required to include Aboriginal perspectives across all subject disciplines from kindergarten to Grade 8.

Although many educators believe that the inclusion of Aboriginal perspectives in all curriculum is an excellent approach, there is no way to track or enforce this.

Without a well-planned and controlled set of expectations, how are teachers in one grade to know what students learned in previous ones, so they can build on that foundational knowledge? It is the students who suffer by not being aware of Aboriginal history.

Natalie van Dyk is a second-year student in the concurrent education program at Wilfrid Laurier/Nipissing University.

Demoralization versus edification

Are the accounts of hearings in Professionally Speaking meant to demoralize, scare or keep current teachers in line? They seem to have the potential to do all three, but they are mainly offensive and demoralizing.

My friend – a member of the Association of Professional Engineers – was appalled by the reports in the March issue. Why so many unnecessary sleazy details, he wondered.

It is time to find professional ways to report on such matters.

Please continue to provide edifying information and success stories like those about Jon Young and Russell Peters (March 2009) and more articles on education advances such as brain plasticity and the introduction of innovative teaching strategies like the Arrowsmith program (September 2008).

In today’s environment, we need articles we can use as we continue to support professional standards.

Linda Kent is a retired teacher who worked with the Toronto Catholic DSB. She has two daughters who are current members of the College.

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