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.

Resources, pride and priorities

Resource perspective

In the June 2009 issue (Letters), Natalie van Dyk noted the lack of provincial expectations related to Native Studies.

While there may not be standard provincial expectations or exemplars dealing specifically with native history, teachers may find good information and material through the Anishinabek Educational Institute or the Union of Ontario Indians in North Bay, or through a local friendship centre.

The Ojibway Cultural Foundation in M’Chigeeng on Manitoulin Island has information on the Ojibway/Ottawa history. For native history there is also Kenjgewin Teg Educational Institute in M’Chigeeng, and there is UCCM, Manitoulin Island’s tribal council for information on treaties that impact that area. Two final political bodies that could help are the Assembly of First Nations and Indian and Northern Affairs.

I hope this list helps. I have 20 years experience working with First Nation students.

Robert Ryckman, OCT, is a Special Education/Native Language teacher at Kinomaugewgamik Elementary School, Shawanaga First Nation.

School pride

I started my teaching career at Dundas District High School in 1973 and taught there until 1982. I taught with many teachers who had been there in the 1960s.

While I cannot dispute the specific events, I can say that the staff members I worked with were dedicated and caring, and I saw nothing resembling the assaults described by Dave Thomas in the article on Jim McArthur (Remarkable Teacher, September 2009).

No doubt things occured in the 60s that would now be frowned upon, but District was held in high regard and considered a great school by the community it served.

John Byers, OCT, taught chemistry, biology and general science in Grades 9 to 13 at Dundas District High School.

National designation?

It is presumptuous and hubristic to restrict the professional designation of teachers to those who are certified to teach in Ontario (Letters of Distinction, September 2009). Is the implication then that teachers certified in other provinces are not to claim a professional designation?

Do doctors or lawyers limit their professional designation to the province within which they practise? Do nurses? Does any other recognizable profession?

Perhaps the OCT should rethink this self-declaration of professional designation and work with all teaching regulatory bodies within Canada to create a professional designation that is recognized nationwide.

Johanna Hirons, OCT, is a high school Special Education teacher in the Discovering Choices II program with the Calgary Board of Education.

Interpersonal priorities

The article about Vernon Kee (Exemplary Teacher, September 2009) featured a subtle value judgement that bears mention and critique. After describing Kee’s amazing hands-on classroom applications, Miller writes, “Equally important, Kee builds technology into every lesson,” and goes on to describe how he uses PowerPoint, shows video and has students work online.

I don’t agree with this judgment passed as fact; Kee’s connections with his students’ lives will always be more powerful and important than the technology used to deliver his lessons.

A statement like this devalues the interpersonal and celebrates the mechanical. We need to be careful about where our priorities lie, because very real curriculum and funding decisions are based on these sorts of preconceptions.

Seth Bernstein, OCT, teaches audio production and science at Ursula Franklin Academy in the Toronto DSB.

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