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September, 2016

  1. Dark Omens in New Curriculum

    September 29, 2016 by Tunya

    Dark Omens Emerge From Hurried School Change

    In eagerness to get on the latest education bandwagon people in gung-ho schools could lose all sense of correctness. The global education arms race, undoubtedly accelerating, is pushing normal boundaries!

    “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold . . . The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.” (Yeats, The Second Coming)

    If it wasn’t for one parent sensing creepy implications, a dubious school experiment would have run for 4-6 weeks with 12-13 year old students. The parent notified a national newspaper, which ran a front-page story. The project was suspended. A hush has settled in.

    Here are the brief details and links will amplify. From day one of Sept school start the students were assigned numbers, told they were “followers” and involved in arbitrary discipline. This was to be an experience in critical thinking. Neither the students nor parents were informed and asked for consent. In fact, parents received an email asking them to keep this project “confidential” but “debrief” students as usual about school. Comments to the newspaper stories brought forward professional and every-day reader reservations about human subject experimentation and depersonalization.

    2 links —

    As a grandparent of school-age children and a long-ago psychology major I as offended in many ways by the news. But the biggest disappointment and dismay was with the presumption that parents would be an easy pushover — that they would both trust and accept this project and, furthermore, agree to betray their children by allowing them to participate in an unexamined project without consent.

    That one parent recognized the magnitude of this incident was remarkable! Not a pushover, this parent went beyond the local media for attention, and did not fall like a predictable domino.

    The challenge is — Just how do we help parents become aware of the looming dangers inherent in this headlong shift from standard education practices and protocols toward untested 21st Century Learning schemes? How can parents reclaim an instrumental voice in the education of their children?

    [ to Invisible Serfs Collar ]

  2. unforgiveable – causing parents to betray their children

    September 12, 2016 by Tunya

    “Smoking Gun” Tells A Lot More Than “He says, she says” !

    [This is the case of a school in Vancouver, an “inquiry school”, which on Day 1 had Grade 7 students given a number ID, assigned to a “faction”, and arbitrarily punished or rewarded by teachers.  There was no consent nor information to parents.  They were asked to keep this “confidential” via email.  2 stories appeared in the Globe  & Mail with many comments.  Google — Vancouver school role-playing.}]

    Yes, parents can now be found to support of this Salish Sea project. A whole host of people can come forward with opinions, interpretations, apologies, etc.

    BUT, the fact remains — we have one glaring piece of hard evidence, Exhibit #1, that lays bare a whole litany of educational transgressions — the letter to parents, Sept 6, 2016

    Here are just a few of the violations to highlight:

    √ surprise — Not only were the students unaware of the project, but so were the parents. Informed parental consent is not mentioned so obviously this was not done. Parents are to be involved by “playing along”, “help them debrief” but always to keep this “confidential” from their children. (Parents will actually be betraying their children’s natural trust that they would keep them out of harm’s way!)

    √ playing with the minds of children (ages 12/13) — These are some of the emotions that the children might display — “overwhelming”, “off putting”, “discomfort”, “we expect and want students to experience a range of emotions”.

    √ depersonalization — Students are given a number ID, called “followers” and are assigned to a “faction” where “The Establishment . . . arbitrarily demotes/promotes”.

    All this is in the letter that closes with this pacifying and cajoling point: “Always focused on the core competencies and BC Ed Curriculum, students will engage in a variety of activities that will help them build the capacity and skills needed for deep inquiry. "

    Is this role-playing being done in the name of the Ministry of Education?

    What is my background to be so disturbed by all this? In the 70s my young children were in a VSB experimental school program from which we soon withdrew after a research report showed students behind in reading and math. I was a member of a parent group (non-PTA) active in improving parent involvement (a new superintendent from Que was hired) and our group received a grant from the Federal Secretary of State to found a service to help parents be involved. One of the first things we did was to codify parent rights in education from sources from around the world (NZ, AU, USA, UK, etc.).
    Amongst the rights was this one about Safeguards:

    “To expect strict supervision over new programs, innovations and experiments, and that parents have special rights in these instances:
    • to receive a written description of the program, rationale, goals and supporting references
    • to grant or refuse permission for their child’s attendance
    • to receive satisfaction that the program is run by qualified, well-prepared personnel
    • to be involved in the ongoing evaluation.”

    In view of technological and cultural changes I think it’s high time that Family Rights in Education be updated and brought forward to address 21st C Learning concerns.

  3. Parents Need Outlets for their outrage

    September 5, 2016 by Tunya


    Ever since the teacher unions gained legal voice through collective bargaining parents have been shunted to the side. The PTA was no longer useful. Education decisions increasingly were made by and between bureaucrats and the unions.

    Parents as a class never had much voice and as individuals it was the most ardent and persistent individual families who got anywhere with the public schools.

    Compulsory schooling and monopoly public schools effectively usurped parents from the role Nature endows them with — the duty and instincts to safely bring up their children.

    It is in times of crisis that parents feel most alarmed and anxious that their children’s’ well-being is being threatened. This current teacher strike — nearly nine months already — illustrates just how robbed of voice parents have become.

    So, in this age of communication, parents, as the ultimate educators of their children, find themselves gagged.

    Thus we can see how this website, Where Is My Kids Report Card? has proved so profoundly effective.

    1. Without the complaints about missing, blank, scanty Report Cards here on this site it is unlikely we would have seen the LRB and BCPSEA and the Ministry in concert to restore some legal sanity to this matter.

    2. Without this site frequently using the word “pawns” it is unlikely that so many people would now be using that term as a regular term for those hostage kids caught in the middle. See: “Most vulnerable are hurt the most by BCTF strike”, May 09, by a retired superintendent:…/geoff-johnson-most…/

    This quote is precious:

    “Using those kids as pawns in a political dispute is so wrong it defies description.”

    3. This site and others (Janet’s Report Card, Parents Saying NO, etc.) are providing a most welcome voice to muzzled and browbeaten parents, suffering far too long at the command of “the establishment”. Productive and positive results have already been seen. Long may these sites thrive !

    [comment on Facebook site Where is my Kid’s Report Card?]

  4. GROUPTHINK Is The Agenda

    September 4, 2016 by Tunya

    GROUPTHINK Is The Agenda

    From the 30s at least there was an interest in “the new man”. George Counts wrote: “Dare The School Build A New Social Order?” Carleton Washburne, a school superintendent, travelled the world, then wrote: “Remaking Mankind” reporting how different nations viewed education and the state.

    In 1952 Raymond A Bauer produced: “The New Man In Soviet Psychology”.

    The point is that educators are and were deeply involved in — not only educating, but also “transforming” society and man and the group — mostly in the direction of being useful and obedient to the state. Often posed as “the common good”. What we have today is considerable effort to play down “the individual” and favor the group.

    Groupthink is both the method and the desired outcome. Parents of university students report that convocation speeches often project these messages. One parent heard the president actually say: “We all know that groups think better than individuals alone.”

    Of course, our topic here is Math and how group work and discovery methods are interfering with the learning of the basics. Experiential learning, collaboration and the rest of the 21st Century competencies (note the word competencies, not skills) are the talking points of new curriculums. It’s the collective, not the individual, which is to be developed.

    A 1999 book by Lieberman and Miller: “Teachers Transforming Their World and Their Work” emphasizes community-building to even include parents. Now, that’s a change!

    And don’t let’s forget, we’re not in the olden days anymore. We now have technology, pre-loaded IPads and gaming to bring forth “the new man” ! Are plummeting academic scores the only time we ask fundamental questions about what our public schools are doing?

    [I’m writing from Canada. Same problem.]

    [This comment was published last night at ]

    [Also a comment to Globe and Mail about Math decline in Ontario, Anna Stokke article ]