April 14, 2013
If you have children in private school, then you are most likely looking at three months, perhaps even longer, which you must fill with activities of one kind or another during the long summer break. Let's look at some of your options for making summer a special time for both you and your children..
Young Children (ages 4-10)
Many schools will offer summer sessions. Depending on its resources a school may offer all day sessions or just a long morning session running from 9 until 1. If the school has had a summer session for several years, it probably has worked out most of the kinks. But keep an eye out for the quality of each activity. Is the school merely providing glorified babysitting or are the activities well-planned, well-organized and well-supervised by qualified personnel?
The advantage of sending a young child to a summer session at her school is that she knows just about everybody anyway. Even more important for your wee one is that the daily routine is similar to what she is already comfortable with. My biggest concern with summer sessions is the planning. Weather doesn't cooperate every day, so that refreshing time in the pool can't always be counted on. What's planned for those rainy days?
The safety of your youngster is paramount every day. But in the summer there tend to be more outdoors activities on the schedule. Are situations like bee stings and sun burns something the school is equipped to deal with? Is there a nurse...read more
December 15, 2012
Yet another horrific shooting. More innocent lives snuffed out. Twenty children sitting in their safe, familiar classroom. Gone.
These shootings have become an all too familiar story. I now think twice about visiting public places. I still go. But I am wary. The same defensive mechanism which kicks in when I drive is now present in my thinking. But let me back up a bit and explain my aversion to violence.
As a classicist I am quite familiar with our love of violent spectacles. Chariot races, gladiator contests and mock naval wars are all, as far as I am concerned, precursors of 21st century video games and movies. That does not mean that I like them. Not one bit.
My first taste of real violence was during the terrorist activities which took place in the Province of Quebec back in the 60s when I was a teen. I knew nothing of violence prior to that, having been raised in a leafy green English neighborhood in Montreal called Westmount. My family had lived there for several generations. But the French Canadians were tired of feeling oppressed and shackled economically and socially by a minority population, i.e., les Anglais. They started blowing things up. I was out for a walk one day heading north on Roslyn Avenue. I heard what I to this day recall as a thump. Not a bang. A thump. As I turned the corner onto Westmount Avenue I saw a body lying on the pavement. It was a letter carrier....read more
October 15, 2012
Does a dead language have any place in a 21st century curriculum? Is it useful? Is it relevant? Does it have value as an enrichment to the core curriculum? I think it does and for the following reasons.
1. Latin offers young people a glimpse into the life and times of the ancient Romans.
Yes, they can read about ancient Rome and watch the videos. They can learn about expansion of the Roman Empire under Julius Caesar. All that information is readily available. But it is filtered information. The whole point of learning a language is to be able to read source materials. I don't want somebody telling me what Julius Caesar said. I want to read it for myself. I want to understand what Caesar said, why he said it, how he said it - the works.
I will disclaim that I learned Latin back in the 50s and 60s when it was taught in the rather old-fashioned way languages were taught back then. You learned endless conjugations and declensions. You struggled with Latin's nuanced sense of tense. Et cetera. It would have been rather dry and dull had it not been for a very gifted teacher. (Isn't that usually the case?) Jack Boyer, a diminutive man with sparkling blue eyes and a rapier wit, made anything in Latin exciting and fascinating for me and the rest of my classmates. Indeed, back then in Westmount High in Montreal, we were streamed as the Latin class or the Science class. Latin was...read more
September 13, 2012
K-12 educational technology spending is currently running at approximately $30 billion* a year. So the question is a fair one. Has technology in fact improved educational outcomes?read more
Technology has freed up administrative time.
Electronic grade books save time for teachers. Electronic tests and quizzes save more time. Software which allows students to master skills in maths, sciences and languages are huge time savers. Email and blogs make communications with parents and administration instantaneous and very efficient. And the tools just keep getting better and better. The less time a teacher has to spend on administrative tasks, the more time she theoretically can spend on lesson preparation and other purely teaching-related tasks.
Technology has opened new worlds.
iPads and wireless networks have literally liberated teaching. We can teach anywhere, any time. That flexibility is what makes teaching exciting and relevant. Decades ago you livened up your class by taking them outside on a nice day to sit under a tree and teach your lesson. The lesson was usually successful because you had your students' undivided attention. You piqued their interest with the change of venue. Exposing young people to the world around them both locally, nationally and abroad is an important part of a teacher's job.
Technology performs that function instantly and without creating logistics issues like taking a class outdoors does. Your history lessons come alive as you make virtual visits to places which were probably just names up until then. The pictures and photographs, videos and sound tracks really flatten the world ,...
July 08, 2012
One of the basic differences between private and public schools is the fact that most public school teachers belong to a union. Should teachers be unionized? My answer to that question is "Yes" if you teach in a public school and "No" if you teach in a private school. Let me explain why.
Public schools essentially are controlled by government at the local, state and national levels. They are funded by taxpayers at all those levels. So it makes sense for teachers to want and need some protection from those three quarters. That protection is their union.
Private schools are funded by tuition paid by their customers, i.e., the parents of their students. Endowments and fundraising make up the delta between what tuition raises and the actual expenses for the school year. Income and expenses must align. Each private school is an independent corporate entity controlled by school trustees, not governments.
Back to the public school teachers and why their unions are necessary. Public schools are funded to a great extent by local property taxes. So you would think that in reality public schools would operate no differently that private schools. In other words they would not spend more than they take in. But this is where it gets very complicated very quickly. A directive from the state to manage a program which has been put in place may have the highest and best motives. But if the state legislators do not fund the program fully, somebody has to take up the...
April 15, 2013
Here are a dozen or so girls' schools' public thoughts about themselves and their missions.
Choosing a Private School,
Paying For It,
High School Issues,
Running a Private School
Note: Data has been gathered from the Dept. of Education, schools, and commercial data sources.