When speech isn’t free, society pays a high price

A recent incident at the University provides a glimpse of what the future may hold for Canadian post-secondary education – and it ain’t pretty

When speech isn’t free, society pays a high priceAt one time, universities respected free speech and the exchange of different ideas. Intellectual discourse and thought-provoking debates were viewed as healthy, vibrant and treasured. Unfortunately, speech isn’t nearly as free on today’s university campuses. Intolerance of opposing philosophies, and hurt feelings among the hordes of special interest groups, have come to define modern institutions…

How to spark entrepreneurship in students

Students should be encouraged to think beyond their own thesis research project and consider other options - such as entrepreneurship - for their career

How to spark entrepreneurship in studentsI recently had the pleasure of being a judge for the University of Calgary’s first Innovation 4 Health hack-athon. This biomedical engineering (BME) graduate-student-led competition brought together multidisciplinary teams to design solutions for surgery and recovery problems posed by health-care professionals. Over four months of almost full-time work, a team of five BME graduate students envisioned…

Giving teachers a voice in crafting a better education system

Considering the emphasis placed on critical thinking in schools, it’s ironic that teacher development minimizes debate and emphasizes conformity

Giving teachers a voice in crafting a better education systemTeaching is a challenging job. Anyone who has spent a few days in a school knows that teachers have a lot of demands placed upon them. Their responsibilities often go far beyond basic classroom instruction. From dealing with disruptive student behaviours to organizing extracurricular activities to supervising hallways and playgrounds, the workload of teachers is…

The dark, Machiavellian side of academia

Overlooked by the mass media and given almost free rein, the academic world is a haven for bullies and antisocial behaviour

The dark, Machiavellian side of academiaAccording to the mass media, Hollywood and Westminster are awash with misogynists, pornographers, exploitationists and bullies. That may or may not be true. Natural justice requires that accusers and accused have their day in court. Unfortunately, trial by media seems to have replaced trial by jury. While we’re in the mood to put the world…

KCS student leaders earn provincial award

Award goes to the council that shows great student leadership, community involvement and volunteer work

KCS student leaders earn provincial awardKevin McBain of The Clarion Six members of the Student Leadership Council at Kindersley Composite School attended the Saskatchewan Student Leadership conference held in Tisdale. The annual event was held Sept. 20 to 22 with more than 700 students, plus advisers, attending from across the province. Students attending from KCS were Kali Sproule, Courtney McKenzie,…

New math doesn’t add up but can something be done?

Saskatchewan's new education minister wants a back-to-basics approach to math instruction that would give students much-needed skills

New math doesn’t add up but can something be done?After enduring years of fuzzy math, Saskatchewan parents may finally have cause for hope. Not only did the provincial government’s latest throne speech acknowledge that Saskatchewan students have the worst math skills in the country, it pledged to address the problem with a “common-sense” plan that focuses on the basics. That’s good news for parents…

Alberta’s sex-ed showdown

In a tolerant, civil society, we embrace a diversity of beliefs. But we need to take care that society's core values aren't undermined by religious beliefs

Alberta’s sex-ed showdownJason Kenney, the newly-elected leader of Alberta's United Conservative Party, has made it clear that Alberta Premier Rachel Notley has no business dictating how sex education should be taught in the Catholic school system. “It’s not for me or the premier to dictate to the Catholic education system how it teaches Catholic values,” he has…

Alberta’s independent schools provide needed choice, value

Despite activist claims, most independent schools in Alberta are not bastions for the rich, but they do fill a critical education niche

Alberta’s independent schools provide needed choice, valueIn Alberta, school choice is under attack. Alongside several teacher unions and associations, groups such as Public Interest Alberta and SOS Alberta want to reduce the choices available for families outside the public education system by pressuring the government to eliminate provincial funding for independent schools. SOS (Support Our Students) Alberta, for example, claims that…

A minibus ramble through Scottish Highland history

As our minibus pulled to a stop, I felt suddenly that my grandmother’s love of the Highland landscape was surrounding us all

A minibus ramble through Scottish Highland historyI count myself lucky to have had a Scottish grandmother. She was a Graham of Montrose, and came from humble beginnings. I remember her describing something called a byre, and explaining that her mother lived in a crofter’s house with the cattle. From the moment I learned this, I have wanted to travel to northern…

Raphael Lemkin: the man who coined the word genocide

Lemkin lobbied tirelessly for the United Nations to adopt a definition of the word genocide

Raphael Lemkin: the man who coined the word genocideI recently asked my Grade 12 students if Raphael Lemkin, the man who coined the term “genocide”, was a great man. What I got in response from my students was quite thought provoking. Everyone seemed to agree that Lemkin was a noble man with a noble cause. He was a Polish Jew, born in 1900.…

What Betsy DeVos could learn about school choice from Ontario

Unfortunately, the U.S. Education Secretary would have to visit the past to find truly innovative approaches to school choice

What Betsy DeVos could learn about school choice from OntarioBetsy DeVos, Donald Trump’s Education Secretary, is charged with promoting school choice. She was about to visit Ontario recently but her visit was cancelled. One cannot but wonder if DeVos’ advisors learned of how Premier Kathleen Wynne’s Liberal party clawed its way to power by smothering a truly innovative school choice program in its cradle.…

The hardships of Orkney link to Canada’s early days

Displaced from their homes, many citizens of the Orkney islands ended up in Canada working for the Hudson Bay Company

The hardships of Orkney link to Canada’s early daysThe Standing Stones of Stenness on Mainland, the main Scottish island of Orkney, date back to approximately 3,100 BC. Stonehenge, to put the Orkneys in time perspective as a Neolithic parent to western Europe, was constructed from 3,000 to 2,000 BC. What was it about these outpost islands that attracted the earliest agriculturalists to their…

The peculiar cult of Che Guevara

Guevara’s primary political instinct was totalitarian, with a propensity to violence

The peculiar cult of Che GuevaraIreland has just issued a postage stamp commemorating Che Guevara. Featuring the ubiquitous two-tone portrait created by Irish artist Jim Fitzpatrick, the stamp marks the 50th anniversary of Guevara’s death on October 9, 1967. The postal service’s rationale is that Guevara had Irish ancestry and that Fitzpatrick’s artwork “appears on t-shirts, posters, badges and clothing…

Kudos to Toronto, but independent schools still face discrimination

Subjecting parents choosing such schools for their children to extra costs is discriminatory

Kudos to Toronto, but independent schools still face discriminationBy Derek J. Allison Deani Van Pelt and Beth Green Cardus You could call it a step forward in fairness for Canadians who send their kids to independent schools. The Toronto Board of Health recently recommended the extension of its student nutrition programs to qualified independent schools. That means more than 300 independent schools could…

The no-zero policy finally gets a failing grade

But dumping the misguided practice in Newfoundland and Labrador schools is just the beginning – much more reform is needed

The no-zero policy finally gets a failing gradeThe long-standing no-zero policy in Newfoundland and Labrador schools is no more. The chief executive officer of the English School District recently announced that teachers are once again free to deduct marks for late work and assign marks of zero when work doesn’t come in at all. This is a significant step forward, not only…
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