teachers

The Informer

Columns

14 Comments

Jan Wong: The province’s shrewd but savage strategy to stick it to Ontario’s teachers

By Jan Wong | Photo Illustration by Bradley Reinhardt

Jan Wong: Strike Out

(Photographs: Demonstrators by Aaron Vincent; Kathleen Wynne by CP Images)

The school year is coming to a close, and not a moment too soon. It’s been an ugly one. Queen’s Park forced new labour contracts onto Ontario’s teacher unions. Teachers fought back by scrubbing extracurriculars for the better part of the year. And many tax-paying parents are incensed that their kids got shafted in the bargain.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Informer

Columns

4 Comments

Jesse Brown: How to get a university education without paying tuition—or changing out of your PJs

The proliferation of online courses means anyone can get a world-class education for free. It’s all about upending the fusty old lecture hall model, and it’s about time

Jesse Brown: Technology

I’m studying sociology at Prince­ton in my spare time. I’m also taking game theory at Stanford, computer programming at the University of Toronto and equine nutrition at the University of Edinburgh. I attend class in my underwear, watch cartoons during lectures and cheat on tests with help from some of my hundreds of thousands of classmates. The classes I’m enrolled in are called MOOCs—Massive Open Online Courses, available for free to knowledge-hungry students of life like myself through the educational website Coursera.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Informer

Features

Comments

The Moment: the Bill 115 dust-up has been as mature as a cafeteria food fight

The Moment: the Bill 115 dust-up has been as mature as a cafeteria food fight

(Image: Aaron Vincent Elkaim)

When a relationship goes sour, both sides tend to behave badly. McGuinty, the self-styled Education Premier, went first: his introduction of Bill 115 in the summer, a preemptive strike against job action, was autocratic and ill-conceived. Ending the boom-era benefit of banked sick days was reasonable; circum­venting contract negotiations and banning strikes was not. The unions went next: they curtailed extracurriculars, which wrought havoc on track meets, holiday concerts and chess clubs, and then opted for rolling one-day walkouts. Along the way, both sides forgot the first thing any two-bit couples therapist will tell you: no matter how bitter the breakup, don’t take it out on the kids.

The Informer

Features

61 Comments

Fetal Position: inside the world of Lia Mills, the 16-year-old leader of a new generation of anti-abortion activists

Fetal Position

Lia Mills didn’t start Grade 7 with a plan to become famous. The year was 2009, and she was enrolled in a gifted class at Gordon A. Brown Middle School in East York. Everyone in her grade had to participate in a speech-writing contest. Winners would deliver their speeches in front of the school, and the school’s winner would battle district-wide. Most of Lia’s classmates chose serious, heavy topics such as human rights. Lia wanted to speak about abortion. She didn’t know much about it when she chose the topic, but the more she read, the more determined she became. She felt it was something God wanted her to do.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Informer

Features

10 Comments

Jan Wong: Why aren’t schools teaching kids about the pleasures and perils of sex?

Body Politics

The answer is simple: our curriculum is shamefully outdated, and the Liberals are too scared to fix it

Adam and Eve nibble an apple from the Tree of Knowledge and suddenly realize they’re both naked. Unfortunately, sex ed isn’t part of God’s plan, and He evicts them from the Garden of Eden. These days, some folks in Toronto are acting quite God-like themselves, insisting that the next generation live in innocence and ignorance. Heaven forbid our youth get to know themselves in the Biblical sense.

Our public schools are under attack by an evangelical Christian organization called the Institute for Canadian Values, whose leaders believe, as a basic ideological tenet, that teaching up-to-date sex education in schools will corrupt and confuse our children. The institute is run by a man named Charles McVety, who is quite skilled at getting media attention. Shamefully, most journalists have checked their brains at the door, blandly covering the institute’s actions and claims without questioning their legitimacy or standing up against the influence of the church on the state.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Informer

Features

6 Comments

Jesse Brown: Why smart phones in the classroom equals smarter kids

Fears of cyber-cheating and sexting in school are so last year

Gadget Goes to SchoolWhen Dalton McGuinty suggested in September 2010 that cellphones and tablets might have useful educational applications, he was savaged by both the press and his political opponents. The Toronto Sun called the idea a “terrible” surrender to already tech-addled kids who want to use gadgets only for Facebook. The National Post likened it to welcoming cigarettes and sharp objects into class. Even Wired magazine panned the idea of gadgets in school as “premature,” citing the potential for distraction, cyber-cheating and a digital divide between kids with the latest gear and kids without. The Ontario Tories picked up all the outrage and ran with it, slamming the notion as “absurd,” a prime example of just how out of touch McGuinty was, and asking, “Shouldn’t our kids be learning math and science instead?” They went on to suggest that if McGuinty gets his way, we will soon have “sexting” in our classrooms.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Informer

Features

20 Comments

How bullying became the crisis of a generation

Kids are committing suicide, parents are in a panic, and schools that neglect to protect students are lawsuit targets

The Bully Mob

Mitchell Wilson had a short life. He was born in March 2000 at Markham-Stouffville Hospital to Craig and Shelley Wilson. From the age of three, he had trouble running and jumping. He climbed stairs slowly, putting both feet on each step before moving up. He fell often, and sometimes he couldn’t get up on his own. His doctors thought he had hypermobility syndrome—joints that extend and bend more than normal.

When Mitchell was seven, his mother was diagnosed with an aggressive melanoma. Her treatments left her distant, sometimes testy and mean, and in so much pain that she rarely left her bedroom. “I sort of kept Mitchell away,” Craig Wilson told me.

“He basically didn’t talk to his mother during the last four months of her life.” Wilson often left his son to his own devices while he took care of his dying wife and ran his family’s industrial knife business. Mitchell spent most of his time in his bedroom, playing video games. He comforted himself with food, and by the time he was four feet tall he weighed 167 pounds. Once, in a Walmart, he fell to the ground and his grandmother had to ask store employees to help her lift him.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Informer

Random Stuff

Comments

Weekend Reading List: top stories from our sister sites, from Steve Jobs’ fashion to Jesus Christ’s passion

Every weekend we round up the highlights from the other websites in the St. Joseph Media family. Check them out, after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Informer

Politics

Comments

Mike Harris is running for office—no, really, he is

According to this article in the Toronto Star, Mike Harris is running in the provincial election—as an independent in Oakville. Only this Mike Harris is a 23-year-old recent graduate of the University of Ottawa, rather than the roundly despised former Ontario premier. The Star notes that “Being Mike Harris is not easy,” and we have to agree—you can’t help but feel bad for a guy who can remember teachers giving him dirty looks when Harris was premier. (Although, honestly, who were these teachers and why were they giving a student grief for sharing the premier’s name?). Plus, barring massive political success, Google searching his own name can’t be any fun. Read the entire story [Toronto Star] »

The Informer

Features

Comments

50 Reasons to Love Toronto: No. 37, The TDSB is teaching students to i-Think

No. 37, It’s never too early to think like an MBA

(Image: Remie Geoffroi)

The TDSB knows something about complex problems—it’s facing more than a few, including a budget deficit, declining enrolments and crumbling infrastructure. The board’s latest challenge is to convince public school students to think less like automatons (learning by rote
and memorizing textbooks) and more like CEOs (picture Steve Jobs, not Bernie Ebbers). One solution is a new method of learning, dubbed i-Think. “Integrated Thinking,” the cornerstone of the much-lauded MBA program at U of T’s Rotman School of Management, came out of current dean Roger Martin’s analysis of top-performing corporate leaders, like Isadore Sharp and Moses Znaimer. The program pushes teamwork and cross-pollination of ideas. A Grade 12 environmental studies class might be asked to look at the ethical, economic and ecological dilemma of developing the oil sands—and instead of demanding single-answer, silver-bullet solutions, teachers encourage students to look at the issue from different angles, to argue for dissenting opinions, and to come up with a response that is as indefinite, challenging and fraught with compromises as anything in the real world.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Informer

Features

29 Comments

Why educational apartheid is not the answer to curbing dropout rates for specific racial and ethnic groups

Students stand in segregated lines at a school entrance

(Illustration: Taylor Callery)

The tall black man was angry. “I want to propose 10 seconds of silence in memory of Brother Dudley Laws,” he said into the microphone, his voice booming through the auditorium at Oakwood Collegiate. It was question period at a raucous, emotionally raw public meeting in March, called after news leaked that the Toronto District School Board had recommended embedding the city’s first Africentric high school inside Oakwood. Parents, students, teachers, alumni and neighbours had filled every creaky, green-leatherette flip-up seat.

Laws, the civil rights activist, had died the week before. The man hoping to commemorate him applauded his own suggestion, smacking hands the size of baseball mitts together, before returning to his seat. I half hoped that Karen Falconer, the school board superintendent who was chairing the meeting, would rule him out of order. But Falconer immediately rose to her feet and announced a moment of silence.

It was like a scene from the American pre–civil rights era of the 1950s and ’60s, except that this time the tables were turned: angry blacks demanding segregation before a shell-shocked mixed-race community, while uniformed cops kept wary watch.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Informer

Random Stuff

5 Comments

Toronto District School Board acknowledges reality and allows young folk to bring cellphones to school

Students can bring their mobile phones to school, with or without a cute quilted cover (Image: Wednesday Elf - Mountainside Crochet)

We’ll wager that this is going to make the deliberations about advertising on screens in schools a bit harder: on Thursday the TDSB relaxed its restrictions on cellphones. Come September, students will be allowed to use cellphones and other personal electronic devices in school hallways, though it will be up to individual teachers to decide whether phones can be brought into the classrooms themselves. Just yesterday we were saying we wanted to the city take a more laid-back approach to its rules, so we heartily approve of the board’s decision.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Informer

Random Stuff

1 Comment

Ontario teachers told not to friend students on Facebook

We assumed it went without saying, but apparently it doesn’t. The Ontario College of Teachers has put out an advisory on the proper, professional use of social media, including the YouTube clip above (way to get social, teachers!). The message for Ontario’s army of classroom wardens? When it comes to social media, just say no. Or, if it’s impossible to avoid any kind of electronic media contact with students, then be aware that there are all kinds of risks—and not just the risk of people creeping you. 

Read the rest of this entry »

The Informer

Random Stuff

7 Comments

Oakwood Collegiate proposed as T.O.’s first Africentric high school—but nobody asked the students first

Oakwood Collegiate (Image: TDSB)

Toronto’s Oakwood Collegiate Institute on St. Clair Avenue West may become the first Africentric high school in the city. Just one problem: the Toronto District School Board has so far failed to consult students, teachers and the surrounding committee in its proposal. According to the Toronto Star, students were outraged when they awoke on Saturday to discover their school could house Toronto’s first Africentric high school come September. Parents learned about the proposal in the media and, later, via a letter on the school’s Web site that announced a Tuesday-night public meeting to address the matter, organized after much community and school council dissension.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Informer

Random Stuff

Comments

Ontario schools to poor people: suck it

One thing that the provincial Liberals are proud of as they run for a third term is their record in education. Full-day kindergarten, lower dropout rates, more spending in post-secondary education: these are all things the Grits will be certain to make sure people know about before October’s election. The problem, according to The Globe and Mail, is that Ontario’s high schools are increasingly charging fees that are at best exploiting loopholes and at worst are illegal.

Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement