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March 1999

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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: ps@oct.ca


Technology Paradox

I was not the least bit surprised by the details concerning the looming crisis in technology teacher numbers documented in the "Shortage Looms" article in December’s issue of Professionally Speaking. The fact that there are but 80 candidates in training in the province at the present time is a clear indication that we have been unable to tear down the walls between what is academic and what is practical.

Technology teachers have always had their qualifications assessed in a dimmer light than those emerging from the halls of academia. Candidates having specialized training – often with one or more compulsory apprenticeships coupled to years of mandatory job training – have always been considered "less qualified" than veterans of 24 months of university study.

Technology candidates who have honed their talents in community colleges, industrial and commercial environments prior to acquiring teaching certificates receive starting salaries usually two categories and thousands of dollars below those with zero practical experience and a university degree.

We foolishly expect to attract bright, qualified, up-to-date, technologically-literate candidates fresh from the cut and thrust of the working world who are willing to take a 50 to 70 per cent cut in income to start all over in an environment that considers them, at least salary-wise, second-rate. To compound the paradox, the new technology curriculum demands teachers with an even broader set of qualifications.

The applied curriculum demanded by secondary school renewal will have to rely on a technologically-literate teaching force that is offered a starting salary and grid placement tied to expertise, real world experience and practical ability. This issue must be dealt with by our College of Teachers.

Lawrence Cotton
Lawrence Cotton is Technological Studies department head at St. Elizabeth Catholic High School in Thornhill.


Thank You

After reading several issues of Professionally Speaking, I feel that I must offer my praise for the high calibre of professional articles contained within this publication.

Most educators in Ontario agree that the College of Teachers was a long overdue professional body that can only improve the standards of teachers and thereby provide Ontario students with an excellent education both now and in the future. Professionally Speaking, by providing a forum for discussion of issues relevant to the future of education in Ontario, is one important facet in this effort to improve education in our province.

Simply put, Professionally Speaking is good for the future of education in Ontario.

V. Clyde Carruthers
Clyde Carruthers is principal of Cardinal Newman School in Niagara Falls.


Environmental Expectations

Orpwood’s and Bloch’s article on the Science and Technology curriculum Grades 1 – 8 in the September 1998 issue of Professionally Speaking was the first article that I have seen on this March 1998 deliverable.

We at Ontario Society for Environmental Education have examined the expectation within this document very carefully and we find that apart from the Grade 7 expectations, this document is very low in enhancing environmental literacy of students. I certainly disagree with Orpwood and Bloch’s article that the "focus on the environment is still very much a part of the new curriculum …"

We are very disappointed with the very low percentage of expectations that are devoted to enhancing environmental literacy with the students of Ontario.

I hope that all educators in Ontario are aware of this shortcoming and that new and even revised expectations that enhance environmental literacy can be infused into all the new deliverables from the ministry.

Ian Johnston
Ian Johnston is membership secretary of Ontario Society for Environmental Education and teaches science and biology at Central Commerce Collegiate Institute in Toronto.