Sunday, August 26, 2018

A reply to a post regarding the relevance of Private schools

The case for abolishing Private Schools  (Click on this link)

In both Canada and the UK there is the equivalent of Comprehensive Schools and Private schools. You have some Grammar Schools still; we do not.. 

In all the schools there is a 'mind set' about what might be called a "good" or "bad" school. And here it is where it gets interesting. 

All parents want to feel their kids are getting a good education whatever school they may attend. The directing factors in this are tied up with the quality of teaching and the money spent on the school facilities and resources. 

All too often, and more often recently, the latter are lacking in many school districts and individual schools. Some parents who can afford it, have in their heads that if they send their kids to a Private School they will be giving their kids a better chance. Some choose to still use the Comprehensive system but seek areas to live where they perceive that a better Socio-economic environment will exist to ensure their goals. Often this is hit and miss.I favour the Comprehensive system but realize that it is only an optimum choice if the schools involved are well funded, have competent teachers and good leadership, fostering good morale. 

All too often this is a Utopia and one which is increasing in its incidence. The notion of better schools being found under the umbrella of Private and Grammar schools may well be a myth or becoming so too. I have taught through my whole career in a Comprehensive ( 'High School') environment.....and so might be said to deserve a back-patting:-)....but I am mindful of the restrictive nature of under-funding, overcrowded classes and lack of adequate service to students with learning difficulties and poor home support.We also have a rising need for more ESL teachers. 

The never-ending 'tug-of-war' between the perception of 'privilege' verses 'universality' is tearing at the fabric of Education...and ,yes, this is driven by politics. And this will never stop all the while Private Schools are subsidized by the tax-payer.

In short there is no real easy answer...only one which serves the conscience.

And here is an opinion from one of my cousins:

I taught in a comprehensive school and a grammar school and think the comprehensive system gives the best chances for more pupils, and in some cases is excellent for the most able children as well. But I don't wish to set myself up as an authority because after 12 years I left teaching. 

Some of my best experiences were in Africa - where I had boys with very little science background, not very good English but great willingness to learn and enormous, sometimes unjustified, respect for me as a teacher.

 Here in Spain, with my wife, I sent my step-children to first a state school, then a private, Catholic, one. They will have their own opinions on which came out best, and I had better not tread on sensitive feelings on the matter. But I will say that the normal state school was perfectly adequate and my children were very well treated as immigrants, and given special language classes for quite a long time. 

I know this is not really relevant in the questions that Dave has raised, but it is part of my experience. I think that private education distorts and unbalances what can be offered, and getting rid of private schools would be a very good thing.

And from a friend:

Blended Learning and Flipped Classrooms may help provide some of the answers which may seem, currently, beyond the scope of both public and private education, more likely the former...for many obvious reasons. Technology enabled learning offers all children - with appropriate internet access - the opportunity to develop what appear to be the skills and competencies required during this phase of our ride upon the Tofflerian Scientific-Technological wave; where collaboration, critical reasoning and communication skills are ‘de riguer’....where curiosity, context, challenge and control become mantras for experiential student driven learning...where learners regardless of age can progress as fast and as slow as they are able....where learners of similar abilities globally pursue the challenge of surviving the anthropocene...where fact and fiction build on shared curricula...where structured and unstructured curriculum are also balanced...where expository and discovery learning are reimagined with hope, peace and love and temperance the driving impulses...where personal and personalized learning find expression...where learners are held responsible for their learning and their contribution to the prevailing social, political and economic dictates.

And my reply to him:

Good vision, but the situation is, so often, hobbled by 'politico-economic' barriers which inevitably drive this vision into the privileged sectors of societies. Research can unwrap the models but then they have to be accepted and paid for. Throughout the modern history of educational innovation we have seen a more prevalent acceptance of various experimental models turning up in the private, and sometimes restrictive, religious sectors.

Let us hope that this trend will change. Keep up the good work from your end Paul.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Improving the revenue from The Squamish Adventure Centre

 To Squamish Council regarding the need to increase revenues from The Squamish Adventure Centre

Just a thought: Has anyone thought about the access to this site?. ...Not user friendly in my opinion. One way North to South you have to go to the main (terrible intersection) and then turn back on yourself .  South to North you could go straight by. Do we need another external consultant to tell us that? My answer would be a definite "No". 

By “going straight by” I mean that if you happen to go through the intersection (Cleveland/Highway 99 )in the fast lane (which is quite likely if you end up there while waiting to go through at the lights and were not quite sure where you turn to the Adventure Centre) it is quite possible that you may not be able to move over to the right lane as the exiting traffic speeds up….Hey presto, you miss the turn! This is important to the issue. The hours of opening are also important, they have to be tailored to the public if you want the maximum remuneration. The facilities that you offer should range from basic information to the provision of souvenirs…and also to, perhaps, scheduled entertainment.

There is an auditorium on site, so show promotional material which highlights our town and environment. The possibilities are far reaching, but don’t frivol our money away on nebulous consultants, as has been done so much in the past. I actually care about this great town!

Idea: When we do get our public transit to Vancouver and Whistler sorted out....Make this the main bus terminus but still keep one stop Downtown!”  My argument for a Roundabout at Cleveland and Hwy. 99 still stands (See later Blog on this.).

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Regarding the removal of John A. Macdonald's sculpture from Victoria City Hall.

History is History and should be preserved. But the issue here is not just John A. Macdonald; it involves ALL the later Prime Ministers who condoned and continued his legacy right up to fairly recent years.
Ask yourself: When did the residential school system actually stop? Maybe we should get rid of all their memorials too!?
Should it be ALL or NOTHING? Or should it be just him? For sure the statue should not be more than all the memorials to all the despots and dictators throughout history....they are landmarks to our triumphs and mistakes, from which we should all learn. What we revere and celebrate is always our choice.

One person said: "Just put them all in a park somewhere with ever evolving descriptive plaques. You could have a revolving park of shame, or a colonial oppression sculpture garden. You could also have a good fellows area when revisionists declare someone worthy again. (Redemption) Replace the original locations with plants, playgrounds, art....whatever."

Another said: "To all those who say it's a part of history I say: Was Russia wrong for removing statues of Stalin? Was Iraq wrong for removing statues of Hussein? Was Germany wrong for removing Nazi monuments? Yes we need to acknowledge our history but we shouldn't glorify past wrongs".

And I replied: "The point is from where they are removed.They should not be destroyed but kept in an appropriate space to reflect the history in context. Otherwise we would have few 3D records of most politicians....They are not usually known for their saintly dispositions! If they are really bad they should never be revered but still remembered. There are still statues of Nero, Caligula, Napoleon etc. and should be. Anyway History is a subjective interpretation of Chronicles and Chronicles are usually full of inaccuracies.,,,but they are all materials from which we may reflect upon some of our mistakes".

Sunday, August 5, 2018

On the need for a new Boat Launch at Squamish. BC.

I read with dismay in the Squamish Chief that the Squamish boat launch at the Yacht Club will be removed soon.
‘Woodfibre Liquid Natural Gas’, apparently, will not be allowing boat launch use or any other by the public at Darrel Bay for at least four years. It seems that Council has NO firm plans to build another boat launch, even though there has been feedback requesting this from several public members in recent surveys.
This really begs the question as to how much our Council is aware of the impending need at present. In my opinion unnecessary money has been often wasted on ventures of lesser importance in recent months. There is little need to list them as they have been often aired in our local media
The ‘bottom line’ seems to be that we will be unlikely to get a much-needed replacement boat launch in the foreseeable future...great! We need a survey to determine how much use our present dilapidated launch gets ...especially at weekends.

Any town on the ocean or lake needs a boat-launch . I predict that many will be upset if we suddenly find that there is no such facility.  Our Mayor has indicated that there have been discussions about possible ways and means regarding this whole issue. However, philosophies change and the prioritization of budgets change. At present there is a need to rebuild or modify the Civic Centre and many other buildings in town. G.A.S. is back on the cards....and such recent initiatives as our innovative directional signs must be completed.

I am aware that there is a plan in the unspecified future to have a launch incorporated with other more sophisticated structures on the ocean front ...but, alas, way down the line. It is my understanding that there has been a survey which very much included space for our druthers regarding the ocean front...and a boat launch need was mentioned many times. 

Please remember that many people in this town have invested in small boats at no small cost...I ask our Council not to turn its back on the issue. This is not a question of privilege. we really need a new facility now.

Go to any community up our coast of any significant size and you will find some type of boat launch...let us push some condos aside a bit and do it!