Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Ontario Liberals would double teacher education time

If the Ontario Liberals win the provincial election, they state that they will require Ontario universities to provide two-year teacher education programs instead of the current one.  Included in an extended program would be more practice time in the classroom.

More professional learning by future teachers is very worthy.  An extended program could include working with students with exceptional needs (Special Education students), English Language Learners, plus a few extra electives such as Multicultural Education, Media, Reading, Writing, Kindergarten, advanced Physical Education, Music, and French.  The universities would love to offer extra courses as they would be able to charge full tuition to second year Teacher Education students.  Currently some school boards and unions charge reduced rates to their members to take equivalent Additional Qualification courses.

Student teachers could spend more time in the classroom through practicuums.  However, some school boards such as the Lakehead Public School Board can only take so many student teachers as it is a relatively small school board.  Lakehead University has a lot of candidates who require teaching placements.  Many candidates go to school boards outside Thunder Bay in order to gain practical experience.

If people were required to complete a two-year teaching degree, expect them to receive a Master of Education degree.  That would mean every new teacher would be starting at the highest rate of pay for a first year teacher.  Expect fewer teachers to take extra Additional Qualification courses since there would be little incentive to take these courses without respective pay increases.  This may seem selfish.  However, teaching is a profession where few people go into higher level positions.  Yes, teachers will still take daily workshops.  However, the costs will need to be paid by their school boards.

The Ontario Liberal news release mentioned that people in other countries spend more time in teacher education programs than Ontario's one-year education programs.  Ontario does have four-year teacher education programs that include courses in non-teaching subjects.  The Liberals did not mention how the programs in Japan, Finland, and Singapore were designed.  They also didn't mention that while Finland does well in the not mentioned PISA standardized tests, it does not conduct internal standardized tests like Ontario does with the EQAO's.  The PISA tests are given at random schools. I have seen sample question which require more creativity and critical thinking than do the EQAO's among those taking the tests.

If the Liberals extend the teaching program to two years, this may prevent poorer but highly educated Ontarians from going to university to get a teaching degree.  I have been supply teaching for several years.  I have learned more about teaching through my practical experience than by taking extra courses.  Yes, these courses do help me with my teaching.  However, they improve my ability to teach by a small margin.  My practical experience has made me into a much better teacher.  I have learned how things work or don't work in different classrooms.  An extra year of a teacher education program would have marginally helped me and the students that I teach.

Doubling Teacher Education

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Don't cry for me, Christy Blatchford

Here's comment about Christy Blatchford I left on Warren Kinsella's blogsite:

I couldn’t agree with Ms. Blatchford more. Come on! Think about those police funerals which seem to get larger every time there are media cameras around. I have to watch the 24 cop funeral news channels every time a cop gets shot or killed in some other way. I hate seeing all those flags a half mast for some dead cop. Thankfully, the cop shops don’t have their flags at half mast for Jack Layton even though he is going to receive a state funeral.

[Maybe] Blatchford doesn’t want to see Canadians cry incessantly for Jack Layton like North Koreans mourning their Great Leader, Kim Il Sung. She didn’t like the poetic crap that Jack Layton wrote in his letter to Canadians. Personally, I wasn’t too fond of Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Get real! And what was Gandhi doing prancing around half naked in India? Trying to gain independence for India from British rule? How about that terrorist-socialist-commie-thug Nelson Mandela? Upon his release from prison, he helped destroy South Africa with those bloody vuvuzelas!

The Honourable Jack Layton’s state funeral will be taking place in downtown Toronto this Saturday. There will be plenty of police officers around making sure that there is ample security for Canada’s leaders who will be present. [Those leaders] include Stephen Harper and Dalton McGuinty. With all those police officers in downtown Toronto this Saturday, I recommend that those who wish to mourn the loss of Jack Layton do so in front of their cop TV news channels. If they really need to be downtown, they can get together in the mourning zone behind Queen’s Park. I’m sure Christy Blatchford would agree.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Her Majesty’s Loyal Leader of the Opposition

Rex Murphy, His Majesty's Loyal Conservative lapdog, commented about interim NDP leader Nycole Turmel's status as oppositon leader.  If some Canadians are upset about her status as Her Majesty’s Loyal Leader of the Opposition, then we can always get rid of the "Her Majesty's Loyal" by getting rid of the monarchy and making Canada into a republic.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Jack Layton's choice

Did Jack Layton make a mistake recommending the appointment of Nycole Turmel as interim leader? Her status as a former Bloc Quebecois party member may not cause concern within Quebec. However, outside Quebec, her recent switch from the Bloc to the NDP will cause discomfort to those who question her Canadian identity even though she calls herself a federalist. Also, until today, Mme. Turmel was a member of the Quebec Solidaire party that is supposedly lukewarm to Canadian federalism. Her membership in this party would be akin to an interim NDP leader from Ontario having a membership in Tim Hudak's Progressive Conservative party. The optics do not look good. Only in a couple of provinces is it OK to be a member of two different parties if they share similar poliical leanings--for example in British Columbia, the federal Conservatives or Liberals and the BC Liberals. Because of Mme. Turmels's recent past affiliation, Mr. Layton made the mistake of recommending that his caucus appoint her as interim leader.

Next, Jack Layton made a mistake in recommending the appointment of a neophyte as leader. While Nicole Turmel has plenty of experience in her leadership position with the PSAC union, a parliamentary leadership position requires an understanding of how Canada's parlamentary institutions actually work. He should have either recommended someone with more experience in parliament or just let the caucus members decide on their own. The fact that he recommended Mme. Turmel's appointment meant that his caucus had no choice but to approve his recommendation or else the NDP MPs would have had to question Mr. Layton's leadership. The caucus could have instead quietly chosen a more experienced MP who did not have recent Bloc baggage.

Finally, Mr. Layton is going through another battle with cancer. I wish him well, and I hope that he recovers soon. However, Mr. Layton should have done the honorable thing by offering his resignation as leader to his party. The NDP cannot afford to have an interim leader on-and-off over the next four years. The party needs a strong leader who can get the party ready for the next election within four years. It cannot afford to have its tires spinning in the snow (even though it is summer).

I wish Mme. Turmel well in her position as interim leader. Not only will she need to demonostrate that she is a strong federalist, she will need to show Canadians living outside Quebec that she is a proud Canadian. Being a proud federalist and a proud Canadian are not exactly the same.  I remember the late Robert Bourassa, former premier of Quebec, stating that he was a proud federalist.  He had a difficult time stating that he was a proud Canadian.