Letter to the editor – Teacher’s Work to Rule Issue

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Dear Editor,

Re: Teacher’s Work to Rule Issue

I feel compelled to voice my opinion to the Premier, elected members of the Ontario Provincial Government, and the bureaucrats appointed to the public education system of Ontario, on the teacher’s Work to Rule issue plaguing the public school system at this time. I was a Preschool teacher in Nova Scotia many years ago. I received my training from the “Froebel Institute for Early Childhood Education”, in Nova Scotia. At that time, Nova Scotia did not offer the Junior and Senior Kindergarten model that is presently offered in Ontario, and perhaps that hasn’t changed since my husband and I have lived in Ontario for 22 years now. In Nova Scotia, at that time, a child had to turn 5 years of age by the end of the calendar year in order to enter into the public school system. For the children who did not meet those criteria, there was the option of enrolling them into privately run registered Early Childhood Education Preschools. That is the environment I worked in before having to move to Ontario due to employment circumstances beyond our control.

In the Preschool Environment, the children were prepared to enter the school system, had opportunity to have their “horizons broadened” and develop friendships, so that the following September was not such a big scary experience. There were only a very few times over the years when we encountered a child who was not emotionally or socially mature enough to handle the environment. I remember one little boy in particular who, quite frankly, was so socially delayed that he could not sit and play during the children’s free time, would not or could not sit down at the table with five other children to follow any instructions, and totally disrupted the class. The other children were afraid of him. It didn’t take long before the owner of the Preschool began documenting particular behavioural issues. This was back in the 1980s and early 90s, so the word “Autism” was not even talked about and “ADD (Attention Defect Disorder) and ADHA (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) were just being identified and diagnosed. I have been retired as an Early Childhood Educator for many years, but I have observed how the issue of child discipline and social interaction have changed drastically. Teachers no longer have the option of placing a child in a “timeout” space, allowing the child a few moments to think about their behaviour and the consequences of that behaviour toward others. It seems that each parent believes, “my child can do no wrong, it’s the other child who is at fault, or it must be the teacher’s fault”. As social media has taken over our lives, people have no filters, because we are anonymous. We don’t have to stare another human being in the eye and repeat what we just told the world what we said about him/her. As for public education, I think every person who is elected to the Provincial Legislature, and government bureaucrats associated with Public Education, should have to spend a few days in the public school system. Teacher strikes or walkouts are NOT always about salary. Social issues, discipline, and respect can be much larger issues.

Josephine Herman

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