Inspiration, misses and more
I was deeply moved by the article about Carolyn Wilson of Stratford (March 2006). I kept the magazine beside my computer to remind me to write this letter and also to remind me to be more inspirational as a teacher.
It is heartwarming and exciting to know there are people such as Carolyn teaching high school students to be critical thinkers and to have a broader perspective on global issues and the world in general. I like how the article points out that the media sells via shock - that we may see poverty and suffering in Bangladesh but not improvements in women's literacy rates and the benefits that this brings.
I commend Carolyn for opening the minds of hundreds of young people who will go on to become instruments of change in the world. I agree that media literacy is vital and should be compulsory in teacher training. Thank you Carolyn for making the world a better place by your spirit and your insight and thanks to Professionally Speaking for publishing this exemplary teacher.
Susan Sareh Wodlinger is a Level 4 (Intermediate) ESL/LINC instructor in Scarborough at Kennedy Language Centre.
Patricia Goldblatt missed the point of Frank McCourt's Teacher Man. Her conclusion that "there is little sense of a desire to offer support or compassion to his students" is a non sequitur. What makes McCourt compassionate and humane is his recognition that a government curriculum alienates and frustrates young people.
I would much rather listen to the "careless ramblings" of a Frank McCourt than the edu-babble that comes out of our publicly funded teacher-education programs. I defy any educator with a modicum of self-respect to say with a straight face that students care about rubrics, lesson designs, standardized report-card comments or a government curriculum that frustrates them and has them dreaming of - of all places - a public washroom.
No amount of science can turn a bad teacher into a good one. In fact, too much science turns good teachers into bad ones.
Humanizing stories frighten certain people: the uninspired, the pliable and the type who believes that education is a public-relations campaign in which parents must be placated in order to have learning occur. But the most engaging lessons happen when students challenge us and we challenge students, and this requires rapport. McCourt figured this out early and his students rewarded him with a lifetime of memories. Moreover, McCourt never lost a wink of sleep worrying what some bureaucrat in Albany thought about him.
That's a lesson every teacher can learn.
Glen Simm teaches history at Glendale SS in Hamilton.
Ontario grads stay with teaching
It was interesting to see that many teachers are keeping their certification and staying with teaching. I would like to see more about those not currently teaching who are renewing their certification. My former college roommate and I (2002 graduation) fall into this category - keeping our certification "just in case." In addition, as I was interviewing professionals in Toronto for my MA thesis, in one building alone I found two former teachers who have kept their certification but are not teaching.
Perhaps such a survey would reveal more about retention rates.
Kelly MacGrandles is Disaster Services Co-ordinator of the Huron-Perth Branch of the Canadian Red Cross and retains membership in the College.
While I am no spelling-bee finalist, I am able to catch the odd error. That said, I was dumbfounded by what I think, or rather hope, is an error in the "Golden experience for educators" news item (June 2006), which says Katie Weatherston "donned her Maple Leaf uniform and helped our Canadian women's hockey team dominate the Olympic competition."
Surely this refers to the red, black and white maple leaf of the Team Canada Olympic hockey jersey and not the blue maple leaf of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Surely Maple Leaf was inadvertently capitalized and not a covert show of support for one of Ontario's NHL hockey teams. I would guess that this error may cause a truly SENSational response from readers who are fans of Ontario's other NHL franchise.
Paul Gautreau is a mathematics consultant with Ottawa-Carleton Catholic DSB in Ottawa - home to the other Ontario NHL franchise.
Beatrice Schriever's article, War Stories (June 2006), celebrating the achievements of Jerry Berridge, Sheila Hetherington, their students and the veterans of the Dominion Institute, not only evoked my interest and admiration, but also wakened a memory of a different war-stories project.
During the 1980s Regina Pacis Catholic High School in Downsview received large numbers of immigrant students who had been in conflict situations around the world. It was the custom of our principal, Fr. Gerald FitzGerald, instead of preaching a homily himself at our annual Remembrance Day mass, to ask two or three of these teenagers to describe their own experience of war. Students lacking sufficient command of English for public speaking delivered, in their own languages, a message translated one sentence at a time by another student.
These war stories were soul searing: teachers and students heard first-hand accounts of what it was like to run from attacking soldiers, to watch one's family killed and one's school burned, to leave the country of one's birth with only the clothes on one's back, to hide under garbage, to be conscripted into an army at the age of 13, to kill or be killed.
Fr. FitzGerald remembers in particular one boy describing his father's death.
The boy said, "They took him onto the street outside our door." Then, putting his finger to his temple, he continued, "and then there was a boom."
There wasn't a sound to be heard in St. Wilfred's Church.
In the words of John Paul the Great, war is an adventure without return.
Elizabeth Dunning is a retired physics teacher from the TCDSB, an occasional teacher for three school boards in the Grey-Bruce area and an online instructor for the Queen's University AQ program.