Professionally Speaking welcomes letters and articles on topics of interest to teachers. We reserve the right to edit letters for length. To be considered for publication, all letters must be signed and provide the writerís daytime phone number. Letters should be addressed to:
The Editor,
Professionally Speaking,
121 Bloor Street East, 6th Floor,
Toronto ON M4W 3M5


Public Accountability

As I understand it, the Collegeís mandate is to be responsible to the public and the profession. Setting standards of practice and accrediting programs. As a regulating body it investigates complaints and takes disciplinary action.
It is beyond my understanding why you see fit to publish crude details of professional misconduct, including detailed sexual misconduct and abuse. I cannot understand why the Discipline Committee deems it necessary to sensationalize disciplinary cases in Professionally Speaking.
The College Council recently recognized that sexual misconduct is result of a small number of our members who have not absorbed the morals and values of the teaching profession, indeed society, by engaging in inappropriate practices.
Why is so much space devoted to the detailed evidence of such appalling actions? I know that these people are among us, but would it not be better to devote column space to strategies that will protect all of us and help us better understand our rights and responsibilities?
Larry Capstick, in the June 2001 Professionally Speaking commented that more media attention is focused on individuals who engage in misconduct than the thousands of successful teachers.
Too often we are publishing our mistakes, rather than lauding our successful initiatives. I think this is an appalling practice, only outshone by the decision to publish online the professional qualifications and work experience of Ontario teachers on the College web site.
I would like the College to rethink its blatant misuse of teachersí time, print space and money. I would like to think that it is my employerís business to check my personal qualifications, not every lunatic out there in cyberspace with a modem and access to information that far exceeds his or her business.

Jennifer A. Jilks
Jennifer Jilks teaches Grade 6 at Manordale Public School in Ottawa

The Homework Debate Continues

When I graduated from Normal School in 1953 our masters always told us not to give homework before Grade 5 or 6 as the little ones needed time to play.
Have times changed so much that our children donít need to play? I donít think so. So let children be children and encourage play time. I feel this will help rather than hinder our childrenís progress.

Jane Carson
Jane Carson continues to supply teach in Durham Region.

Still Rewarding

In his recent editorial, Teaching Is Still a Rewarding Career, Registrar Joe Atkinson asserts that "this is... an exciting time for teachers... Professionally, we continue to learn more and more about how children learn and how to teach students more effectively." His authority for this? His own 35 years as an educator.
If we are that much smarter, why do we force children entering high school to make career choices at the age of 14? How do we justify forcing 15-year-olds to sit through 12 hours of literacy testing in two days, when we complain about sitting through staff meetings that last no more than two hours?
In the 70s we recognized that to teach more effectively we needed only to classify students, so that their specific needs could be addressed. Words like Basic Level courses, and General and Advanced were born. Vocational schools blossomed throughout the province and Life Skills became a teachable subject.
In the early 80s we thought we got it right with OSIS, in which every student advanced at his or her own pace, with plenty of spare time in the senior secondary years to concentrate on those really tough courses. It was recognized that smaller classes were needed to enable teachers to address an individualís progress. OSIS and consistent funding provided a decade of stability.
Then came the unlamented "Transition Years" document. This was a laudable but unsuccessful attempt to ease teenage anxieties associated with the transition from elementary to secondary school, and to address the perceived inequity between students in Advanced level courses and those labelled General. Its passing was mourned by few.
We are now convinced that children will learn more effectively by making course content more difficult ó setting standards or benchmarks ó and by testing them continuously until they get it right. The Ministry of Education thinks that their policies are the most daring and innovative in decades, when in fact they resemble the emperor's new clothes.
We donít know any more now about how children learn than we did 30 years ago. We donít teach more effectively than we did 30 years ago, we just do it differently. How differently depends on how the political winds are blowing.
Címon, Joe. If youíre going to force all the teachers in Ontario to subscribe to your magazine, the least you can do is to give us something more convincing to read.

Simon Jensen
Simon Jensen teaches Visual Arts at Cawthra Park Secondary School in Mississauga.

Update Didnít Satisfy

In the past, I have wondered why we, as teachers, need a professional college. I received my teacher education through a university. I continue to learn more about teaching from my colleagues and mentors, from my students, and from my own reading and practice.
The College grants me a certificate saying that I am fit to teach. For this certificate ó and the glossy magazines ó I pay $90 a year.
Up until now, I have had no use for the College. Then three days before Education Minister Ecker announces her new hoop-jumping requirements (14 courses every five years), I received my copy of Professionally Speaking with an "update" on what the College had learned about teacher testing.
Obviously, the College had learned nothing about it and furthermore it appears the government does not care what the College has to say on the matter of teacher testing or certification.
The government has no regard for the Ontario College of Teachers. Now that makes two of us.

Shannon Ferguson
Shannon Ferguson teaches Grade 11 and 12 English at Saugeen District Secondary School.

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