School Crossing Signs

You’ve seen the signs I mean – silhouette figures of two children about to cross the road: one boy, one girl.  (How do we tell?  One’s wearing a skirt.)  (That’d be the girl.)  (Really, do most girls still wear skirts to school?)

So, yes, let’s emphasize sex.  Boy and Girl.  Ms. and Mr.  Nothing else matters.

And nothing else is possible.

Note that the boy is taller. ‘Oh, but they are.’  Not at that age! Taller suggests older which suggests more mature, wiser.  And just in case you miss this not-so-subtle suggestion of male authority, look, he has his hand on the little girl’s shoulder – guiding, protecting, patronizing.  It will be there for the rest of her life.

Just to make sure of that, Read the rest of this entry »

Canada Day – Are you sure you want to celebrate?

Before you get all patriotic and fly your little Canadian flags in celebration of Canada Day and, presumably, of being Canadian, think about it. Are you really proud to be: Read the rest of this entry »

Air Bands and Power Point

I still remember the feeling I had when I saw my first air band performance. It was a sick kind of feeling.

I hadn’t known what an air band was. The announcement came over the p.a. at my school-for-the-day, and I dutifully shepherded the class to the gym. Then I watched, incredulous, as group after group of high school students came on stage and pretended to play their favourite songs. I mumbled a query to the teacher standing next to me. Apparently this air band stuff was quite big. Students spent weeks practising. They really wanted to get it right. ‘It’ being the appearance, the pretence. Read the rest of this entry »

Dr. Frankenstein, meet Dr. Spock

Thanks to genetic research, we may soon see people with the money to do so making sure their kids are born-to-succeed – parents paying to guarantee their kids have the right stuff.  I’m not talking about a straightened spine or a functional optic nerve.  I’m talking about designer kids: those made with healthy bodies, intelligent minds, and perhaps a certain specific ability to boot. Read the rest of this entry »

Poor Little Kids

So I heard on the news the other day about the poor little kids whose school backpacks are so full of books they’re developing debilitating back pain…  Oh please.

If they’d worked on their homework during the time allotted for just that purpose, instead of text messaging the person next to them, one painstaking letter at a time, to send the monumentally important query ‘hey brittiny ow r u’, they wouldn’t have so much left over to take home.

If they’d paid attention during class, engaged their minds in the mental effort required to learn something, they might have even finished it during that allotted time.

If they wore their backpacks properly with both straps over their shoulders and high up, instead of oh-so-fashionably slung low over one shoulder, they wouldn’t develop such back pain.

If mandatory physical education hadn’t’ve been cancelled, or if they actually played outside after school instead of watching tv, or walked the five blocks to and from school instead of getting chauffeured by mom or dad, they might have enough strength in their little backs  –  wait a minute  –  are these the same kids for whom pens with rubberized grips are designed because the user’s thumbs and forefingers are just too weak to hold onto them firmly otherwise?

Being There

I recently read a lament about work attitudes, about how more and more people seem to think that just being there is enough, that their paycheque is for putting in time rather than for actually doing anything, let alone for doing a good anything, that people feel no guilt about the mistakes they make, nor do they feel any desire to do better.

I’d like to offer some comments in defense, or at least in explanation, of that position.  Read the rest of this entry »

Government Grants for Grad School

So – this was quite a while ago – a colleague at work, another part-timer, who was also going to grad school, got a government grant. She’d be getting $675/month to cover her living expenses. I’d spent five years saving $10,000 to cover my living expenses (hopefully it wouldn’t take more than ten months to get my degree).

She’s ‘native’. Well, she was born in Canada same as me, actually in the same year even, but her parents’ parents’ parents’ parents’ parents’ parents were living here before the Europeans moved in.

So, the argument goes, Read the rest of this entry »

Boy Books

Boy books. You’re thinking The Boys’ Book of Trains and The Hardy Boys, right? I’m thinking most of the books I took in high school English.

Consider Knowles’ A Separate Peace. Separate indeed. It’s set at a boys’ boarding school. The boys are obsessed with jumping out of a tree. This involves considerable risk of crippling injury. And yet they do it, for no other reason than ‘to prove themselves’. Now my question is ‘What are they proving themselves to be – other than complete idiots?’ We don’t get it. Read the rest of this entry »

Useless Humanities

That a humanities degree is useless for the workforce says more about our workforce than the degree.  It says that we value, that we’ll pay for, someone to provide cars, electric toothbrushes, and running shoes.  But not beauty and insight.

It doesn’t have to be that way.  Read the rest of this entry »

To Connect

At first, I noticed incomplete sentences in their conversation and in their writing. But I thought hey, it’s a fragmented world: videos with their bits and pieces of images, radio and tv with their sound bites, even entire degree programs at university present their courses as if they’re unrelated.

But then I wondered, is it because they don’t have complete thoughts? Read the rest of this entry »