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No More Teachers, No More Books
As an education activist who has challenged all kinds of prevailing orthodoxies, I am
accustomed to encountering critics who disagree with my analyses. However, Mary Beam is
the first reviewer to accuse me of teacher-bashing (Professionally
Speaking, June 1998). She bolsters this attack with one out-of-context quote from
No More Teachers, No More Books: The Commercialization of Canadas Schools.
Of course my book raises questions about the actions of individuals and groups,
corporations and unions alike, just as it raises questions about who profits from the
current direction of education reform.
I believe that the teaching profession has reached a level of maturity that entails a
continuous self-critique that challenges us to move on with new understandings. This
requires an examination of the roots of our assumptions about the purposes of education
and the motives of those who seek to control schools. Ms. Beams strident insistence
that teachers "are energized by world change" and thus need not be troubled with
its direction is one of the many issues I attempt to address in my book.
Despite Ms. Beams injured sensibilities, I do not agree that examining this
dynamic amounts to condescension, nor does it justify her accusation that I treat the
profession as "stupid." Her conclusion that I "insult" the profession
by questioning whether some of us have been manipulated and victimized by the ideology of
markets and endless progress through techno-subservience is certainly unique. The scores
of interviews I have given and published reviews of my book beg to differ. If anything, I
am constantly challenged to justify my support for the integrity of the teaching
profession when criticism is what the media want to hear.
In No More Teachers, No More Books, I write that the critics of compulsory
techno-enthusiasm are often subjected to virulent and irrational attacks from inside and
outside their professions, because they raise questions that profoundly disturb those who
benefit from existing power arrangements. I can only conclude that Ms. Beams review
has made my point in spades.
Heather-jane Robertson is director of professional development services for
the Canadian Teachers Federation and co-author of Class Warfare, as well as
No More Teachers, No More Books, which was reviewed in the last issue of Professionally
Focus on Teen Violence
We are writing regarding the article entitled Focus on Teen Violence (Professionally Speaking, June 1998). There are a
few statements and attitudes that are ridiculous and almost insulting. The psychologist
quoted says, "I have the impression that most teachers do not realize that these
children are disruptive not only to themselves, but disruptive to the rest of the
To imply that kindergarten and primary teachers in particular, do not spend inordinate
amounts of time and patience dealing with socializing children is ridiculous. To imply
they dont understand the consequences of disruptive behaviour is even more
Susan Pascoe and Rosemary Parish
Susan Pascoe is a special education teacher and Rosemary Parish is a Grade7
teacher at R.A. Sennett in Whitby.
Hot Time at the AGM
Picture this: Saturday morning, a meeting room on the sixth floor of the offices of the
Ontario College of Teachers stuffed with perspiring teachers fanning themselves with their
copies of the agenda, staff members hovering attentively in the halls and directing
teachers toward the washrooms or to water.
The mood in the room is decidedly tense. Seven committee reports are delivered, then
finally the reason we are here time for questions.
Questions are limited to two minutes. The answers seem to be limited to two minutes as
well. We seem to want quantity here not quality. Follow-up questions are
discouraged. Several teachers with more questions are left standing at the microphones. We
are told the question time can not be extended.
Thats it. Two hours to hear seven committee reports and to field all the
questions and concerns raised by the imposition of the College, its mandate, its fees, its
publications, its Internet schedule of disciplinary sessions.
Mark Henderson teaches English at Lester B. Pearson High School in
I read Jack Berrymans article Canadas Courts Say Teachers Must be Role
Models (Professionally Speaking, June 1998) with
some concern. Certainly its difficult to quarrel with the notion that teachers ought
to be exemplary role models both on and off the job. I also have little trouble with
teachers being called to account for alleged breaches of professional conduct and
suffering stern (but appropriate) consequences when its clear that such breaches
have in fact occurred.
However, I do have serious reservations about holding teachers to higher standards of
behaviour under the law than those that would be applied to members of other occupational
groups who also occupy positions of power, influence and trust.
I suspect that the statements made by the courts regarding the conduct of teachers are
more matters of style than of substance.
Nevertheless, with all the other pressures currently being felt by society in general
and teachers in particular, its distressing to hear that the judiciary expects the
members of one group to be appreciably less human or fallible than everybody else.
Robert Renwick of Holland Landing has retired after 32 years of teaching high
school English, but continues to supply teach for the York Region District Board.
No More Teasers
I was so angry by the time I finished reading the article No More Teasers (Professionally Speaking, June 1998).
The article was so condescending towards teachers.
I have a child in my kindergarten classroom with what I suspect is an autism-spectrum
disorder, and she came with an educational assistant. Since this child is prone to
head-banging and other self-destructive behaviour, safety is a key issue. Let me
assure you, no teacher in their right mind would set up situations to disrupt their
I am expected, and expect myself, to program for all these children and all the rest,
each who have intellectual capabilities across a broad range. Yet you imply in your
article that I should be an expert, that I should know more than the parents of a child
with such a disorder.
You claim in your article that parents resent their role as "expert." But who
better to be the expert on their childs disorder?
I think it is enough that we try to be expert educators who educate children to the
best of our abilities.
Shelley A. Clark
Shelley Clark is a kindergarten teacher in Barrie.