Category: Education

School’s Out!


No, I’m not referring to the Degrassi film (for you knowledgeable 20-something Canadians out there). I’m finally done teacher’s college! These eight months just flew by. Queen’s is an amazing university and I learned so much from the program and on my teaching placements. I just need to keep my fingers crossed that I get a permanent job come September. Thank goodness that I’m trained in a subject area that’s in need of teachers.

The Faculty of Education got us grad cakes after our final assembly (vanilla and chocolate… of course I had one slice of each). And now I’m back home in Toronto. Strangely enough I’m going to miss Kingston, Ontario (but not the tiny flies that seemed to have infested the lakeshore). It’s a nice town and I had the best landlords, housemate and classmates while I was there. :)

And now on to my mask that I told you I was artsing around with last week for one of my final projects. I bring you “The Mask of Teaching”, complete with a mini-scroll on my thoughts on education (thanks goes out to Stephan for the lovely hand writing ;) ).

I ate an alligator today… what an eventful first week of school


Tonight a group of us from the Bachelor of Education program here at Queen’s met up for dinner at The Grizzly Grill.  I was famished since I hadn’t ate anything since noon, and it was almost 8pm.  Looking at the diverse menu I was stuck as what I would get as an appetizer (I decided on an Alberta Prime Rib for my main course, since I just got on the medium-rare train).  Initially I was going to order the crab & spinach dip.  But once our waitress came around I thought to myself, why not try something different?  So at the last minute I ordered the Louisiana Alligator (spicy, grilled skewer with Cajun aïoli and tomato corn salsa).

I have to say… alligator isn’t that bad.  It looked like chicken, but tasted more like a miraculous combination of pork and chicken.  Looks tender to the eyes (was probably due to whatever animal the alligator ate :P), but has a chewy texture… a bit like beef .  An interesting experience and I’m glad I took a chance and tried something different, because it was rather tasty.  But it’s not like I’ll be ordering this every time I go out… I’ll rather stick with my ‘normal’ meats of chicken, pork, beef and fish. :D

The dinner was a positive mark to the official day one of classes.  Got to meet some new people, which is always a plus.  I’m going to have to get used to the actual class structure though, since last week was so busy.  “Welcome Week” comprised of orientation classes, workshops and presentations.  Then after the ‘school day’ we would attend nightly activites including a BBQ, wine & cheese night,  boat cruise of the Thousand Islands, and visiting a local pub.  I’m glad the early mornings and late nights are over though, so now I can start getting into a proper routine.

Today’s classes were interesting:  a couple of lectures (that I tried to stay awake for, even though I started classes at 11am), and my technological studies curriculum class.  The tech class was so much fun!  We had to design a couple of small frames/structures from wooden sticks, so we got to work with saws, glue, scissors, rulers, clamps, and sand paper… felt like I was in grade nine shop class again (well, actually that’s what the project was for: a typical grade nine project that we would eventually teach in the future)!  Ah… there’s nothing like peeling dried, white glue off your hands. :P

Kingston, so far is pretty nice.  The buses on the other hand could run more frequently, but I think I’m getting used to it.  Four more weeks and I’m back in Toronto for my practicum. :D

Farewell Real World, Hello School!


I probably didn’t mention this in any of my previous posts as yet, but today marked my first day of Couchpotatoness AKA “I don’t have a job now because I’m going back to school to further my education”.

Yes, that’s right, I’ve said goodbye to a pretty decent job so that I could… *cue ominous music* TEACH HIGH SCHOOL. This wasn’t a rash, last-minute decision I made because I wanted a change of scenery and summers off. I actually had, what some would call, an epiphany while I was at my younger sister’s high school graduation last year. After seeing all the teachers make their speeches to the students, and seeing how positively the students reacted along with the bond they all seemed to share, it dawned on me: I’d make a pretty good teacher!

I’ve always had an aptitude for learning (yes, I even went to those “gifted” classes), and as I reflected on my years I noticed that through different experiences (whether it was helping my younger siblings, volunteering at summer camp, or training some of my co-workers) I’ve done a good job at sharing my knowledge with them and helping them to grow. Why not make this a profession?

Now, this isn’t a direct leap of career paths. At my now former job, I was a Web Producer (involving web & graphic design, videography and photography). My teaching stream will be Communication Technology (one of the 7 broad-based technologies in Technological Education programs) which involves the same thing. I honestly thought it was too late for me to start a teaching career in my field since I’ve been out of school for a while, but my 3 years experience at my last job actually helped my B.Ed application.

Communication Technology was my favourite course back when I was in high school (I still remember that “Sailor Moon” image I designed in Corel Draw back then). So after volunteering at my old high school for a while and sending my application in, I was pleasantly surprised when I got accepted to Queen’s University (tough loss for the other 2 I applied to). (Shout out to my former co-worker Sandeep for getting accepted to teacher’s college as well! :D ) For those of you applying for teacher’s college, don’t give up… things will work out for the best.

So, last week my boss (thanks girl!) and department got me this wonderful cupcake-cake (you know… the one that looks like a cake, but it’s actually a bunch of cupcakes smothered in icing so that you don’t have to worry about a knife and fork). It was delicious! Was all set to eat one last morsel when I came back from lunch, and to my surprise there was an empty platter on my desk! How 7 cupcakes disappeared from my desk in 30 minutes, I don’t know… not even a “thanks for the cupcakes I stole from your desk, Monique”. Never did find out who scarfed them down while I was gone… but don’t worry: karma’s on my side! :P

My Good Luck Cupcake Cake

So, now I got a couple weeks to prepare for school (I even have an assignment due on day 2, so lots of reading to be done). What really sucks now is that I’m not covered by my benefits package anymore. Looks like my wisdom teeth are going to have to wait 10 months till I get hired and covered again (heaven knows I’m not shelling out my laptop funds on my teeth)!

Hi-ho, hi-ho… It’s off to Kingston I go. Of course, I’ll keep you all updated. :)

Who Eats Chicken in a Public Washroom?


Clean Hands Report CardI’m sure most of you have had your fair share of public washroom faux-pas… and yes, I actually saw a chicken bone in the overflowing waste bin of my workplace washroom the other day (makes you think, doesn’t it).

You should really be observant of how many people actually do take their hygeine into consideration when using public washroom. I’ve counted many times when I’ll be at a stall, hear the toilet flush in the stall next to me, and then footsteps quickly echoing to the exit–no, I didn’t hear the water faucet run. Ewww… how can anyone use the washroom and not wash their hands?! It makes me wonder how often men do it.

According to a study sponsored by the American Society for Microbiology and The Soap and Detergent Association, 88 per cent of women washed their hands in public restrooms, compared to just 66 per cent of the guys. Can you believe that? 1 out of every 3 men you shake hands with don’t wash their hands after using the washroom! That is exactly one of the reasons I always keep some instant hand sanitizer at my desk.

The study also outed some liars: 92% of people say they wash their hands in public restrooms, but only 77% were actually observed doing so. That’s just nasty. Here’s a list of hand-washing directions from the SDA so that 23% of you can get up to par:

Cleaning your hands when soap and running water are available:

  • Wet hands with warm, running water – prior to reaching for soap (bar or liquid form). This applies to most products; however, some foaming hand washes should be applied to dry hands.
  • Move hands away from the water, and make a lather by rubbing hands together.
  • Be sure to wash the front and back of hands, between fingers, round and under nails for 15 seconds or more.
  • Rinse hands well under warm, running water.
  • Dry hands thoroughly with a clean paper or cloth towel or air dryer.

And here are some critical times that you should be washing your hands:

  • Before and after meals and snacks
  • Before caring for young children
  • After touching a public surface
  • Before and after preparing food
  • After using the restroom
  • When hands are dirty especially raw meat, poultry, or seafood
  • After touching animals
  • When you or someone around you is ill

Lather up, people!

Debate: Black-Focused Schools in Toronto


In the news recently is the Toronto District School Board exploring the idea of creating an “African-centred alternative school” from junior kindergarten to Grade 8. Toronto school board figures show that by age 16, more than half of black male teens are at risk of dropping out because they haven’t earned the 16 credits required by the end of Grade 10. It’s hard to see this coming to light again so quickly after the province of Ontario strongly opposed faith-based schools. Is race-based schooling any better?

You have to ask yourself why is the average Black youth failing? Are the parents to blame? Is it the portrayal of themselves in mainstream society? Is it purely the school system’s fault?

Maybe it’s just me, but the idea of having a black-focused school just makes me think that the majority of people out there in society assume the intelligence level of Blacks is sup-par. The idea that we need a separate school to keep up to mainstream society is something that I don’t want people to believe, because it isn’t true. I for one can attest that fact. I went to a Catholic school, with prominently white teachers, interacted with many students of different races and cultures, and excelled very well. Not to mention the fact that the community I lived in for most of my youth was one deemed as “disadvantaged.”

The black population in Canada is very diverse, and to have a “black-focused” school doesn’t seem very logical. Segregating black children, by having a separate schools takes them away from mainstream society. How well are these children going to get along later in life with members of other races in terms of socializing if they are isolated from exposure from other groups at school? Especially if it’s in their early childhood years.

Perhaps we’re going about finding a solution to this problem the wrong way. Maybe what schools need is more teachers of visible minorities, more inclusion of topics such as Black history and multi-ethnic equity into the main curriculum so that all races can absorb, more funded after-school programs to help disadvantaged youth. More programs initialized at current schools to help black youth will keep them in the loop and not make them feel like they need to be taken out of it, in order to succeed.

I was reading a local message board on this same topic and one of the members had a very interesting solution to this problem: forgetting about Black-focused schooling and promoting a school system which focused on lower-class individuals. Free breakfast programs, tutoring, addiction counseling services, after school programs to keep kids busy, apprenticeships and internships. I think this is a very good idea. Sure it’s another form of segregating a social group, but at least there’ll be more variety of people in this frame-set for children to relate to… a more realistic depiction of our world.

I honestly don’t think that race is the whole issue here. I think people are forgetting to get down to the basics of the situation. The problem most of these kids are having is in relation to their social and economical class and not necessarily b/c of the colour of their skin.

If a Black-focussed school was to open next year, what would be the criteria for acceptance? Would a child with a white mother and black father be allowed to join the student body? What if a white student wishes to attend? If the school is going to be publicly funded, then it must be open to everyone. Is this the beginning of other races starting to protest their own need for their own schools, further segregating our multicultural society? What about the many Muslim, European and South American students who are failing the school system? Shouldn’t non-Black races have the opportunity to benefit with the history of Black people?

Is this debate adding to the stereotype that Black people aren’t intelligent and need a special school in order to keep up with the current population? What if a very smart Black student were to attend a school like this instead of opting to attend one in the mainstream school system? Would their achievements be hindered because they are ‘ahead’ of the pack? Would a black-focused summer school or Saturday class be a more logical solution? Is this a step backward for our community from the days of civil rights?

When it comes down to it, if all kids want to be successful in school they have to be interested and engaged. Perhaps the current teaching styles need to be changed in the school system so that they grab the attention of youth (both black and non-black). There are students of all races that end up dropping out of school… there needs to be a program that will help all of them and not segregate them based on a social construct such as race.

What are your thoughts on the issue? If you’re in the Toronto-area, the next public meeting discussing the topic will be held on Monday at Northview Heights Secondary School (550 Finch Ave. W).

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