20 June 2007

Principal Teaches the Wrong Lesson In Saskatchewan

A student hears a lesson in class and something doesn't quite sit right with him. He does independent research and discovers that the lesson he heard (and from the cagey wording in the article, it sounds like it was an outside instructor with a canned, politically-motivated presentation) was not entirely correct. He constructs the correct information that he shares with his classmates, one of whom reports him to the principal. This results in him being ordered to be silent on the issue, that is, not to share the factual information he uncovered that contradicted the official presentation. He plans a peaceful demonstration to make his point, that results in him being suspended, the RCMP being called to a locked-down school, and being denied permission to write his final exams, which drops his final marks from an A standing to a bare-pass C. The story is in today's Globe.

Does it matter that the information had to do with the relative harm aspects of tobacco, alcohol and marijuana (and you get one guess as to which one he found to be less harmful than the others)? Note that the student neither consumes, provides, nor advocates the use of any of these substances. He just wanted to have the facts presented accurately in his school.

Presenting accurate, factual information is apparently a new concept for principal Susan Wilson, supported in her actions by the division's Director of Education, Don Rempel. This incident is yet another shameful over-reaction by school authorities who seem to believe that their primary responsibility is to indoctrinate uncritical conformity behaviour in their students. When otherwise good students appear to be "acting out," it should be taken as a sign that the principal has systemic problems on her hands, and should be looking at the context, not the content of the acting out itself. But then again, most teachers and principals in the system are themselves products of school system designed to produce citizens for the 19th century.

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