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Letters to the Editor

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 and registration number. Address letters to: The Editor, Professionally Speaking at or 101 Bloor St. W., Toronto, ON M5S 0A1.

What’s in a Name

Photo of the cover of the June 2017 edition of "Professionally Speaking"

The June issue of Professionally Speaking touts 20 years of protecting the public interest. Words such as “inclusivity,” “respect,” “care” and “integrity” adorn the cover. Within the issue in the article titled “20 Years of Protecting the Public Interest” are the subtitles “A New Level of Openness,” “Planting the Seed” and “Broadening Perspectives.” But in the At the College section, there is a picture of international visitors. Five people are in the picture: three of them are White and two are Black. The names of all the White people are given, but the two Ugandan delegates are simply identified as “members” [of the delegation].

Beliefs about race emerge from the quotidian, the ordinary, and the day-to-day ways of being and doing things; how things, and especially people, are portrayed. The two Black men in the photo are not ciphers, quantities of no importance; they are men who have names, and their identities should have been respected. By carelessly ignoring the personal identities of these two individuals, your editors quietly and easily contributed to the normative framework of how Black people are seen (or not seen even though their bodies are there). The history of Black people is rife with examples of the careless disregard of names and the imposition of namelessness upon Black bodies. And the ironic kicker is Angela De Palma’s article, “Answering to Your Name: Names contain meaning, contributing to who we are,” is spot on — names are important.

Carl Cooke, is a retired teacher who taught Grades 3 and 8 in the Toronto District School Board and Rachel Cooke, OCT, is an assistant curriculum leader of English at Silverthorn Collegiate Institute, Toronto District School Board.

Declining number of male teachers disheartening

Photo of the "By the Numbers" section of the June 2017 edition of "Professionally Speaking"

I find it worrisome that the number of male teachers, as reported in By the Numbers in the June edition, has been declining over the past 20 years, dropping from 31 per cent in 1998 to 26 per cent in 2016. Meanwhile, the number of male teachers found in this issue’s Hearings in the Governing Ourselves section exceeds the number of female teachers 12 to one.

Is it really because men have less self-control and are generally more violent? Or is it because their behaviour is scrutinized more closely than that of women?

At one point I actually thought the teaching profession could be a possibility for my son, who is in his 20s. Now, I’m having second thoughts. My son is social and friendly, and for those reasons I’d be afraid he’d end up in the Hearings pages for touching the shoulder of a student. It’s very unfortunate because boys drop out of school more often than girls and need successful male role models in education. As former College Chair Donna Marie Kennedy says on page 29: “I think a profession can be over-regulated.” And I sometimes wonder when I’m reading these Hearings summaries if the College has already gone too far.
(This letter has been translated from the original French version.)

Hélène Dompierre, OCT, teaches French as a Second Language and biology at Philemon Wright High School in Gatineau, Que.