Monday, August 31, 2015

BC school curriculum - an overdose of aboriginal culture

Alongside the article on the "massive shift" in BC school curriculum (previous post) is a related article - Aboriginal perspectives help shape new B.C. school curriculum:
With the new curriculum comes one notable and significant shift ...

Not only will students in B.C. be learning about the history of residential schools, starting in Grade 5, but they will also have aboriginal perspectives embedded into all parts of the curriculum in what the government hopes will be a meaningful and authentic manner.
In the specific lessons about B.C.’s history, topics will include discrimination, inequality, oppression and the impacts of colonialism. The changes are part of the B.C. government’s response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report on the residential school system. [That was fast! Wasn't that report just published?]
Wonderful! A school system that wasted so much time, money and energy on the highly dubious notion that "self esteem" was a paramount consideration in educating students has now shifted in the opposite direction.  Now it is of paramount importance that students (at least the non-aboriginal ones) be indoctrinated with the equally dubious notion that they should feel guilty for their ancestors' supposed sins.  Perhaps for "progressives" that's progress.

I don't know how many aboriginal children attend BC public schools but those who do will be subjected to this curriculum.  What effect will such an unremittingly negative indoctrination on the "history of residential schools" have on their young, immature minds? Will it not reinforce a sense of victimhood?  Will it not make them feel bitter?  How will it affect their relationships with their fellow non-aboriginal students?

Then, how about the children of immigrants who had no role whatsoever in residential schools?  What will this indoctrination do to them?

Indoctrination (not "education") that induces feelings of guilt, victimhood, bitterness and God knows what other negative effects seems not just a little misguided.  This curriculum needs some serious re-thinking.

As for "having aboriginal perspectives embedded into all parts of the curriculum" -  why, other than to demonstrate "sensitivity" and, perhaps, boost aboriginal self-esteem?  Given the limited time available for more valuable learning, it is a massively unproductive exercise to subject everyone to an overdose of aboriginal culture. This stuff should be strictly optional for anyone who might have a "passion" for it.

First Nations Mathematics
Also discussed in the article is how the mathematics curriculum might embed learning about First Nations:
"... difficult to imagine how math ...  could have learning about First Nations embedded into its curriculum  ... building a canoe is a good example of how to think about it. ... Math ability has always been important for First Peoples.   ...There are some fantastic resources out of Haida Gwaii that show how math was embedded in the creation of a canoe ...
  Well, "math" in this sense has no doubt been important for all human beings at all stages of development.  It's not difficult to imagine that all humans, even at their most primitive stage, were capable of thinking logically about how to measure and compare quantities for various purposes.  How societies  throughout history actually thought about and used these capabilities would be part of the disciplines of "Cultural Anthropology" and  perhaps "History of Mathematics".

So the rather esoteric "Haida mathematics" of building a canoe should not be embedded in the "Mathematics" curriculum.  It would be a possibly interesting but probably confusing distraction that interferes with learning the modern mathematics necessary to survive and get ahead in the modern world. And suggesting that it is comparable with or relevant to the study of modern mathematical concepts is delusional.

While "First Nations mathematics" may be of great interest, even importance,  to aboriginals (for self esteem?) or historians or anthropologists, for everyone else it should be strictly optional. 

"A massive shift"in BC school curriculum

Vancouver Sun:
"... it is clear that schools will have to move away from a traditional model where all students read the same book at the same time, answer the same questions and write the same test.

There is a massive shift underway, and as students go back to school next week, a new optional curriculum will be in place for students up to Grade 9. It will be mandatory next year. Grades 10 to 12 are next, with a draft curriculum expected this week. ...
The need for "a massive shift" becoming "clear" seems to be based on an assumption that the internet, iPads, iPhones, etc have suddenly changed how kids learn what schools are responsible for teaching. Sure, the internet is neat and there some nifty new tools for accessing information but it is highly doubtful that kids' brains have evolved measurably since their invention and that what they need to know and how they learn it has radically changed.  But what the heck, an Education Minister has to make his mark, doesn't he?

Then there's this interesting assertion:
The shift will also bring in new methods of assessment that could see traditional report cards and letter grades disappear. A bit further off are new graduation requirements, which could mean the end of every student passing the same basic courses and exams in order to get a diploma.
Haven't teachers' unions been pushing these ideas for some time?  Students learn whatever strikes their fancy at their own rate with no tests and no report cards.  Also, no more measuring student progress and so no more accountability for their success or failure.  What could go wrong?

Then, if nothing else, this should be a huge alarm:
"there are no global examples to follow and this education transformation is untested."
Yikes! But why am I not surprised?  This seems to be the case for so many grand new educational schemes.  While there are no doubt some reasonably decent ideas in it, this "massive shift" appears to be yet another giant social experiment involving every child in the province as a guinea pig.  It's an experiment to test the latest radical progressive "thinking" coming out of academia.  And it'll take a generation before we have any inkling of how big a flop it is.

Evolution, not revolution, should be the rule in bringing about change in large crucial systems like education.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Hilarious Trump

Whatever else you might think of Donald Trump, you can't deny that he's a hoot:


Friday, August 28, 2015

The latest from the Fiscal Monitor: a $5B budget surplus

Brian Lilley:

"... what is happening in oil and gas and a few other sectors of the economy things will not be great going forward and probably are not as rosy as some Conservatives will have you believe but they also are not nearly as bad as the doom and gloom preached by the NDP and Liberals. ..."

An open letter to Robert Fife and all the other media jackals at the "Duffy" trial

John Pepall: Mike Duffy's trial by media:
Sub judice. It’s the idea that when a matter is before the courts we should follow the allegations, the evidence and the arguments but leave the courts to decide what to make of it all.

... sub judice is not just some quaint leftover from the days when lawyers were supposed to know some Latin. It has a point: that matters that are to be decided by the courts should be left to them to decide; that they should not be subject to popular pressure telling them what to do.

... The media, when it is not just partisan, which much of it is, is flopping between unctuousness and the cultivation of populist [resentment] against anyone comfortable on the taxpayer’s dime.

...  It’s juicy gossip. And like all gossip, it is fuelled by malice and ignorance. ...
 And while the column is about Duffy's trial, the most recent phase has really been the trial-by-media of Stephen Harper.  Pepall's column would make a good open letter directed to the likes of Robert Fife (CTV) and Andrew Coyne (Post Media) [explicitly excluding Christy Blatchford]. 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Good news for Jason Kenney, bad news for Justin Trudeau and his senior aide

First the good news, Jason Kenney won a law suit filed against him by the Canadian Arab Federation (CAF):
The Federal Court of Appeals sided with Minister Kenney’s decision to cut funding to the Canadian Arab Federation ... over its promotion of “hatred, anti-semitism and support for the banned terrorist organizations Hamas and Hezbollah”.

The decision, in part, stated (July 24, 2015) that groups which promote hatred, including anti-Semitism, or excuse terrorism and violence, should not receive any official recognition or subsidy from the state.
Yesterday (August 22) Minister Kenney issued a statement in response to the Court’s decision, which said: “As Minister for Muliculturalism, I have always taken zero tolerance attitude toward anti-Semitism. Years ago I was criticized for saying that groups who express hateful views or defend terrorists should not receive taxpayer funding. As Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, I ended government funding for groups such as the Canadian Arab Federation, and Palestine House.”
The bad news (for Justin Trudeau):
Minister Kenney also urged voters to ask their Liberal and NDP candidates if they still believe that the government should give millions of tax dollars to groups whose leadership promotes anti-Semitism, and who express support for banned terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah, and questioned Justin Trudeau’s position on the Federation, given that one of Trudeau’s close advisors, Omar Algabhra, is a former President.
Ezra Levant notes that the Media Party, which gleefully covered the CAF's court challenge to Kenney's decision, no surprise, completely ignored the court's decision:

No surprise that the Media Party weasels will only cover bad news for Conservatives and cover up bad news for Liberals.

I also wonder if this weasel, Canadian Charger, will be as enthusiastic about the outcome as he was about the CAF's initial law suit.

Burning fossil fuels is a moral imperative

Dr. John Christy, climatologist and director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama, Huntsville responds to the Pope's encyclical:
...We have a “moral imperative” to burn carbon dioxide-emitting fossil fuels because the energy they provide is a “liberator” of humanity ...

...“We are not morally bad people for taking carbon and turning it into the energy that offers life to humanity in a world that would otherwise be brutal ... On the contrary, we are good people for doing so."
... Carbon-based energy, which is “the most affordable and reliable source of energy in demand today, liberates people from poverty,” ... “Without energy, life is brutal and short.”