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.

Homework, oversupply and mobility

Enough’s enough

As a retired teacher with 33 years of teaching experience, still volunteering in elementary schools, I am writing concerning homework (PS News, June 2007).

It is a sad day in education when the practices of professionals are challenged by student and parent surveys. Which of us as students would have agreed that homework was a good thing? Yet we are now going to determine policy based on surveys.

I never assigned homework. But I did expect my students to read individually selected books and report on their reading eight times a year. Much of this was done at home. I expected students to gather resources for school projects on occasion. I expected them to complete their work in class and anything not done (IEPs exempt) would be due in the next day or two, depending on when we had that subject again. I never viewed this as a burden but as preparation for the real world where work must be completed.

Now, it seems, we can’t set time limits because it might cause stress. Now, we are afraid to deal with homework because – while it is OK to be playing hockey at 10 PM or at 6 AM – homework causes the child to be late for bed.

When will we speak up for ourselves as a profession? The College should have the nerve to suggest that the people you are certifying may just know the right thing to do, including how much homework a child should have each night.

Donald Robb is a retired teacher who volunteers in the Lambton Kent DSB.

Demand and supply

Three of four letters in the March issue dealt with the “oversupply” of teachers. Essentially they called on the College to regulate the number of entrants to teachers’ colleges.

These folks should wake up and enter the real world. The world doesn’t owe anyone a living just because one has trained. The law of supply and demand applies to teachers just as it does to all other occupations.

I did not make a new friend when I recently asked a young woman who was supply teaching, and complaining about it, why she would choose to train for a career knowing there was a tremendous oversupply. She pondered my question and said that she really had not thought it through in a long-range way. She didn’t like my question, though she admitted it probably was a fair one that she should have asked herself.

David Jones, now retired, taught geography with the Peel DSB.

What’s needed

While it may be the case that some plum assignments (Letters, June 2008) go to retired teachers, I haven’t seen it in my area. I’ve done several part-time LTOs – either for the full year or close to it. But it wasn’t because I was retired; it was because the schools were unable to find other qualified French teachers.

Perhaps a solution would be to encourage prospective teachers to become qualified in a field such as FSL, where there is great demand.

Teaching French (on rotary) may be different from a regular class, but it has its rewards. I taught a lot more students each year and I am constantly amazed by the number of former students who greet me in the street, often stopping to chat. One doesn’t have to be a regular classroom teacher to make a difference in a young life.

Peter Hurlbut is a retired French teacher who works part-time in the Near North DSB.


I just read Improving Mobility for Canada’s Teachers (Registrar’s Report, June 2008). I am registered with the College and have taught in Manitoba and Québec under provisional certificates. In Manitoba I would need 24 credits and in Québec 12 more credits to receive permanent certificates.

I don’t know the process for teachers coming here from other provinces, but it is not easy when moving to other Canadian jurisdictions. I hope the College is successful in working things out with the other provincial regulators.

Xin Pan teaches math and computer science at Voyageur Memorial School in Mistissini Lake, Québec.

Don’t leave without it

It is interesting to note that member discounts (Governing Ourselves, December 2007) are also offered outside Canada. The Kravis Center in Palm Beach offers a discount to active teachers – even Canadians – for many performances. I recently bought tickets at half price for my husband and myself by showing my College membership card. Good to take it with you when travelling!

Lynne Stoyan is an occasional teacher for the Toronto DSB.

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