Friday, April 4, 1997
A practical approach to teaching

It's difficult to take members of the education community seriously when they discuss their ever-changing approach to teaching children.

While teachers lament the lack of discipline in the home, administrators cry for more money to buy lots more computers and build brand new schools financed by an overtaxed population, standards weaken as excuses for poor results multiply.

While the larger problem of mushy education standards is by no means unique to Yellowknife, talk of a "more holistic approach" smells like another lurch in the direction of less learning and more wasted time.

A glance at any of Yellowknife's school schedules shows a wide array of activities that have less to do with serious learning than they do with babysitting, an aspect of childcare with which teachers are vehemently opposed to being identified.

An example of the thinking was illustrated over the March break.

The sign outside the public school board wished staff, students and families a happy two-week spring break.

The only real break was for staff and students. Meanwhile, working parents scrambled to keep their kids busy and cared for, many of them unable to ignore the fact that valuable education time was slipping away as the two-month summer holiday grew closer.

Before our schools start looking to the community for more and better methods of implementing a "holistic approach" to educating our children, they should first look inward for a more practical approach to getting the job of educating them done.

Women at work

There's nothing new about the idea of getting more women into the trades. Everyone agrees we need more female carpenters, welders, plumbers and electricians.

So it's good to finally see someone get the ball rolling. The North of Sixty chapter of the Women in Trades and Technology movement is a step in the right direction.

So far all they're talking about is building some go-carts, essentially just exposing women and girls to the world of nuts and bolts. It sounds simple, but anything that breaks down the barriers and the misconceptions that divide the sexes can't be anything but a good idea.

Good attitude

The clinical director for Northern Addictions Services says that despite government funding cuts that have reduced his staff by eight, NAS has no plans to reduce the scope or quality of its services.

This attitude, coupled with a commitment from Dale Graham to "find a new way to utilize resources" is a breath of fresh air in an era of whining about cuts and not dealing with reality.

The reality is this: in 1997 there will be more government funding cuts because the people of the Northwest Territories and the rest of Canada are no longer willing to put up with high government debt and deficits.

Like Graham, all program directors who once relied on government money must learn to deal with cuts with a goal of success despite constraint, not failure in the face of cuts.