By R.D. Gidney
Reviewed by Michael Reist

The title leads one to expect an invective against the current government at Queen’s Park. This is not the case. The title refers to the starting point for this overview of the history of education in Ontario.

In 1945, the government of Ontario established a Royal Commission on education led by John Andrew Hope. This committee submitted its report five years later, and thus began the post-war project of educating the baby boomers and all who followed.

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While the elementary school had always been seen as a place for all children to get a grounding in the essentials, high school had a more specific function – the education of a select few.

This all changed in 1962 with the implementation of the Robarts Plan, the main feature of which was streaming by ability level. Politicians were struggling with the question of what to do with the huge influx of students into what was still, in many ways, a 19th-century school system. It is interesting to see that most of the controversy surrounding education, if it doesn’t have to do with money, seems to have to do with secondary school.

From today’s perspective, one of the most intriguing chapters is on the Hall-Dennis Report of 1968. It’s hard to believe that only 30 years ago the pervasive attitude in educational circles was child-centred learning. Around lunch tables, teachers talk about pendulums swinging. A common joke among older teachers is not to throw out any old curriculum documents – you’ll be using them again.

Gidney’s greatest contribution is his placing of the current upheaval in education within its larger historical context. Whether secondary reform is the swinging of a pendulum, the coming to fruition of previous trends or something completely unprecedented, the reader can decide.

From Hope to Harris, Toronto, 1999; ISBN: 0-8020-8125-8, $24.95 paper; University of Toronto Press; 1-800-565-9523 or 416-667-7791; fax: 1-800-221-9985 or 416-667-7832.

Michael Reist is head of English and modern languages at Robert F. Hall Catholic Secondary School in Caledon East.

Unraveling the Mystery of Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorder:
A Mother’s Story of Research and Recovery

autism.jpg (19649 bytes) By Karyn Seroussi
Reviewed by Elizabeth M. Starr

Pervasive developmental disorders (PDD), of which autism is one form, are generally considered to be lifelong disabilities. There have been many theories as to the causes of autism and numerous "miracle cures" touted by various groups. Given the very disabling nature of autism in its most severe form and the often unimaginably difficult behaviours of their children, it is not surprising that many parents will attempt any potential cure despite the lack of controlled clinical trials attesting to its effectiveness.

Unraveling the Mystery of Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorder chronicles one mother’s belief that autism is an immune system disorder whose effects can be controlled and minimized by diet – specifically a casein (milk) and gluten (wheat)-free diet.

The first section of the book chronicles the development of Seroussi’s son Miles, the devastating effect on the family as Miles’ autism becomes evident, his mother’s research into autism, and how his being put on a gluten and casein-free diet allowed Miles to recover. The second section discusses the diet in detail.

The book is aimed at parents and certainly provides an interesting discussion of some causes of PDD as immune system disorders and an inability of the body to metabolize certain enzymes. Seroussi provides ample anecdotal evidence for the effectiveness of the therapy. But no amount of anecdotal evidence is a substitute for rigorous research.

I am concerned that some parents may attempt the complex diet using only this book as a reference, although there is a disclaimer acknowledging the author is not a physician and the diet should not be attempted without consulting a physician and nutritionist.

The book outlines the theories of autism as an immune system disorder in a way comprehensible to lay people, and I recommend it for this reason. However, I recommend it with caution to parents wishing to implement this controversial therapy. As long as the child is under a physician’s and nutritionist’s care and receives the essential vitamins and minerals, there isn’t necessarily any harm in attempting the diet, but parents need to be prepared for the possibility that neither will there be any benefit.

Unraveling the Mystery of Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorder, New York, 2000; ISBN: 0-684-83164-3; $35 hardcover (288 pages); Simon & Schuster; 1-800-268-3215 or 905-764-0073; fax: 1-888-849-8151 or 905-764-0086; e-mail:

Elizabeth Starr is a member of the Ontario College of Teachers and an associate professor at the Faculty of Education, University of Windsor, specializing in autism research.

Different Windows into the Same Room: Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences
Four books from the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development

Reviewed by Clifford Morris

Have you considered restructuring your classroom program or your entire school program to incorporate Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences (MI)? If so, then these four books are a must read.

In Becoming a Multiple Intelligences School, Thomas Hoerr presents an insider’s account of how to apply MI. His details on the 10-year process he and his colleagues encountered are thoroughly outlined. His comments on how to develop new assessment for tracking and reporting student growth are both refreshing and innovative.

Linda and Bruce Campbell’s Multiple Intelligences and Student Achievement provides a fascinating commentary on implementing MI in six schools that have used it for at least five years. Their case study approach chronicles the application for all types of students.

Thomas Armstrong’s expanded second edition of Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom and his new ADD/ ADHD Alternatives in the classroom update Gardner’s MI theory as confirmed classroom applications. The former book outlines innovative strategies for integrating an eighth intelligence, the naturalist. Also, Arm-strong presents new

outlooks about the possibility of a ninth intelligence, the existential. His latter book highlights imaginative student journeys, bodily-kinesthetic cues, posters, drama and dances as feasible classroom strategies for empowering children stamped with the negative ADD/ADHD label. If any of these books contains a flaw, it is this one. The author stumbles severely in his treatment of the role MI can have on ADD/ ADHD students, devoting a meager two pages to possible MI intervention strategies.

Nevertheless, the authors are to be commended for their comprehensive comments on nurturing students’ intelligence strengths. They suggest practical strategies for reducing or even eliminating achievement gaps between all types of learners.

All published by the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, Alexandria, Virginia; Becoming a Multiple Intelligences School by Thomas R. Hoerr, 2000; ISBN

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0-87120-365-0; $23.95US paper (113 pages). Multiple Intelligences and Student Achievement: Success Stories from Six Schools by Linda Campbell and Bruce Campbell, 1999; ISBN 0-87120-360-X; $15.95US paper (108 pages). Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom, second edition, by Thomas Armstrong, 2000; ISBN 0-87120-376-6; $22.95US paper (154 pages). ADD/ADHD Alternatives in the Classroom by Thomas Armstrong, 1999; ISBN 0-87120-359-6; $11.95US paper (126 pages).

Clifford Morris, who lives in Kanata, is a retired classroom teacher who has been following the writings of Howard Gardner since 1985.

The Book of Mirrors: An Interactive
CD-ROM and Audio CD

bookofmirrors.jpg (26314 bytes) By Lark Popov and George Vona
Reviewed by Patricia Bland

The Book of Mirrors has three studies in interactive music. The first, El Sol del Sur, presents the complex compositions of Latin American rhythms merged with classical overtones. The second, The Book of Mirrors, allows the viewer to visualize how its five pieces fit together like a musical puzzle. The third, Strategies Against Architectures, Book II, integrates and contrasts the power of classical musical traditions with harsh and savage sounds from urban society.

Additional information can be explored by clicking on images of instruments, scales and dialogues by the musicians. One section allows the viewer to discover precisely what sound an instrument creates with a click of the mouse. You can slide your mouse over panoramic video of the percussionists’ nest of drums, cymbals, steel pipes, vibraphones, chimes, a riding crop, slide whistle and more. This is what my Grade 2 and 3 kids enjoyed the most.

Teachers of all grade levels will appreciate The Book of Mirrors interactive CD-ROM for teaching music according to ministry expectations. Primary and Junior students can explore percussion instruments and associated sounds. Intermediates can correlate the effects of the sound with symbolic imaging. Secondary and music theory students have an exceptional opportunity to associate themes in tone and sound production. There are also web site links to the Internet where students can communicate with composers and musicians.

My only frustration with this CD set is the time needed. One must have an up-to-date computer system to allow for the demand on the RAM memory. I recommend playing the music CD on another machine while enjoying the truly engaging interactive Book of Mirrors. Visit for a sampling.

Book of Mirrors CD-ROM and audio CD, Toronto, 1998; $40; Novadisc Music; 416-214-2288 or 1-800-214-2293.

Patricia Bland teaches Grades 2 and 3 at Joyceville Public School in the Limestone District School Board and is an instructor for computers in the classroom at Queen’s Faculty of Education.

Taking Your Kids Online: How and When to Introduce Children to the Internet

By Arlette Lefebvre and Brian Hillis
Originally written for parents, Taking Your Kids Online
is a valuable supplementary resource for educators who have concerns about introducing children to the Internet. This readable, step-by-step guide takes into consideration the developmental stages of a child’s life.
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The authors educate readers on how to instill judgement and values about Internet content in children, not simply how to drive the technology. Readers are left feeling confident to set parameters on their kids’ Internet experiences in a positive way. It’s a useful resource for teachers of the Internet generation.

Taking Your Kids Online, Toronto, 1999; ISBN 0-07-560932-0, $21.99 (224 pages); McGraw-Hill Ryerson; 1-800-565-5758 or 905-428-2222; fax: 1-800-463-5885 or 905-430-5203

Reviewed by Quentin D’Souza, who teaches Grades 6 and 7 at Senhor Santo Cristo School in Toronto.

Scholastic Spelling Studio

By Scholastic

Scholastic has produced an exciting new way to enable elementary students to learn to spell confidently and fluently. The new CD-ROM program, Scholastic Spelling Studio, available for students from Grades 3 to 6, has a Hollywood theme to motivate students to improve their spelling skills while offering the teacher a means to adapt programs and have a record of each child’s progress. This CD-ROM program may be used in conjunction with the Scholastic Spelling books 1-6 or independently.

Scholastic Spelling Studio, New York; $389.99 for complete unit (includes guide, resource book and 10 student books); Scholastic; 1-800-268-3848;

Reviewed by Luisa Busato, a program consultant with the York Catholic District School Board.

The Teaching Gap: Best Ideas from the World’s Teachers for Improving Education in the Classroom

the teaching gap.jpg (17983 bytes) By James W. Stigler and James Hiebert

As part of the Third International Mathematics and Science Study, Grade 8 math classes in Germany, Japan and the United States were videotaped. Researchers analyzed the tapes to determine how teaching styles varied. The most striking differences were between Japan and the United States.

In Japanese classrooms, students often worked for extended periods on a small number of challenging problems, which were then discussed by the class. American teachers explained terms and procedures, assigning the students a large number of simple practice questions. As well as higher test results, the Japanese method apparently produces far greater mental dexterity and appreciation of mathematical processes.

The authors noted that teachers in Japan also learn more. Small groups of teachers meet regularly to develop, revise and implement lessons. They study educational theory and the findings of lesson-study groups in other schools and are thus actively engaged as researchers.

One shortcoming is the book’s inattention to the social status of teachers and how this influences their attitudes to teaching and professional development. Another is that by proposing a model of teachers as skilled technicians, it ignores the role of individual strengths and enthusiasms in the work of excellent teachers.

The Teaching Gap, New York, 1999; ISBN 0-684-85274-8; $34.00; The Free Press; 1-800-268-3215 or 905-764-0073; fax: 1-888-849-8151 or 905-764-0086; e-mail:

Reviewed by Brian Day, a Grades 4 and 5 teacher at Rose Avenue Public School in Toronto.

Making Learning Happen: Strategies for an Interactive Classroom

By Jeffrey N. Golub

Jeff Golub’s chatty and practical guide for experienced as well as new teachers provides ways to restructure classroom instruction so that teachers won’t confuse motion for progress. As Golub says, keeping students busy is motion; helping them learn is progress.

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Even though the book has a language arts bias and an emphasis on the middle grades, its application is widespread. Golub reminds teachers that sometimes lessons just don’t work out. If the students are not motivated to do the work, then promises of grades, stars, pizza parties or other rewards are not going to help them learn. Engagement is the key. Getting students to actively and enthusiastically participate in the task at hand is a product of the teacher’s classroom community building. Golub goes on to suggest activities to help build that community.

Making Learning Happen is a refreshing reminder of the fun that teaching and learning can be.

Making Learning Happen, Portsmouth, N.H., 2000; ISBN 0-86709-493-1; $14US paper (112 pages); Boynton/Cook; 1-800-793-2154;

Reviewed by Rick Chambers, a program officer in the College’s Professional Affairs Department.

All Aboard! Cross-Curricular Design and Technology Strategies and Activities

all aboard.jpg (22435 bytes) By Metropolitan Toronto School Board Teachers

Elementary teachers want to know how to teach technology. All Aboard! Cross–Curricular Design and Technology Strategies and Activities (K-6) can help.

The book has four categories. Your Classroom is a primer for organizing your classroom. Content and Curriculum has tips for content and cross-curricular links as well as an introduction to the basic concept of design and technology. Making Your Own Activities is a model for the design process. Student Activities has complete design projects for Grades K-6.

In addition, you will find three pages of quick activity ideas after each set of activities. Each activity contains a teacher-planning page, instructional strategies section to initiate the design process and a variety of student pages. Other helpful features include additional activities, reproducible planning sheets, assessment tools and topic webs.

Although the resource predates the new Ontario curriculum, it will help teachers integrate design and technology into their elementary classrooms.

All Aboard! Cross-Curricular Design and Technology Strategies and Activities, Toronto, 1996; ISBN 1-895579-86-4; $29.95 paper (170 pages); Trifolium Books; 416-483-7211; fax: 416-483-3533; e-mail:

Reviewed by Xavier Fazio, a science and technology consultant with the Halton Catholic District School Board.

Materials reviewed in Professionally Speaking are available through the College library.
You can arrange a loan in person or online at library.