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Experts?   by Robert Bruce Baird

ACCREDITATION: - Scholastic regimentation from the post WWII period has accelerated to the point that Canada won't let an Olympic figure skating medalist teach or coach young Canadians the errors and damages of the present system. She could earn more in the U. S. or other places but she is willing to do this for free if they would let her. How would Einstein or Bucky Fuller become professors in today's structured adherence to accepted models of learning? Canada is held up as a fine example by the U.N. committees which evaluate governments throughout this world. Last week the support staff went on strike in our schools of Toronto. Here is part of an article by Jim Coyle in the Toronto Star.

"Tough times teach those who have eyes to see

I spent a few hours in the emergency ward the other night with my 11-year-old, owing to a cut he acquired as a consequence of the prevailing mayhem in a houseful of boys. {Such an easy way of sloughing-off other issues.}

As we waited, he seemed intrigued by what went on around him. How could the triage nurse be so cheerful? Why did the man with chest pains get rushed right in.? What made the woman ahead of us in the suture room slit her wrists?

{No answers to come, and no coping skills taught in our media or schools. No awareness of the alternatives and soulful causes that would motivate people to help each other.}

He said he was amazed, watching the parade of ill and injured, that doctors and nurses could work under the pressure they do and make so few mistakes. {He is not interested in exploring the reality of how many mistakes are made, and probably hasn't read Ivan Illich's book 'Limits to Medicine'. He doesn't want to hear about the lack of family violence questionnaires in schools and hospitals which might prevent a growth in family violence and the cycles of attendant violence associated with incest. I have sent him letters and called, to no avail. Is he making a case for the 'status quo' at the behest of his employer and their political cronies?} A miserable night had turned into something educational. And I was reminded that, given the right attitude, little is wasted in life's economy, that difficult moments usually bring lessons.

It was the notion I'd been tossing around about the disruption in Toronto schools last week and what kids could learn from it. For teaching often occurs when we least expect it, not in the lecturing but in the living, not in the theory but in the behavior {So true.}. In fact, the person with the wisest observations in this respect might have been Justin Trudeau, son of the former prime minister, who was in Toronto last week to speak to teachers {He teaches in British Columbia and is an ardent and eloquent example for good behavior, to be sure.}.

'How can you teach character?' he said. 'Well, I don't know that you can teach character. I think you need to teach with character. You have to model character, you have to demonstrate character. That's how we learn.'

{This does not obviate the need to build a joy of learning or encourage socialization through tolerant consideration of comparative religion. It does not contradict the 'co-operative education' programs that research shows should focus on group projects, results and less testing for competency in early life, to be followed by more testing for creative and worthwhile learning and productivity as well as emotional coping skills later. It doesn't mean that what is being done is anything much better than 'glorified baby-sitting' to produce 'followers' who fit the needs of industry and society. It doesn't mean that teachers learned how to teach, as Kaoru Yamamoto points our in the 'Social Sciences Encyclopedia' put together by the Kuipers in 1995.}

In that sense, there were many lessons to be learned during the strike. The first of these was courage. And the ones who displayed it were the strikers themselves, the support staff whose walkout eventually closed the schools for a week. They're the workers in the system who earn the least, people for whom even a week without pay is painful, who will take years to make up the wages lost. Yet, knowing this, they still struck.

{Where is the modeling of behavior for the kids to emulate? Should they emulate the poor downtrodden and uneducated janitors? Should they wonder why the parents didn't get together and do the work to keep the schools clean? Should they have policed their own schools or organized to keep them clean so they could still attend the school and learn the things that excite them? Where are the real ethics to learn character from in these simple strikes for something other than what will make any real changes – they only ask for money!}

... As angry as parents were at the disruption, it strikes me they should perhaps be grateful to the strikers for modeling the values that, presumably, we most want our children to absorb - self-respect, the willingness to stand up for themselves and the work they do, honouring principles even at a personal cost, courage.

Another useful lesson, there for the learning during the work stoppage, was that of civility.

As the garbage piled up in their schools, as washrooms were fouled beyond use, it must quickly have become apparent to the students - as it does to their elders in the looting that inevitably follows police strikes - how thin is our veneer of civilization...

It may well be worth a class or two, now that they've resumed, discussing why and how this happens and what it means." (1)

Yes, we all need to respect the workers and know that our students are being force-fed pablum that will make them drones for a system that accredits only certain paladins who endure the wishes and structures that exhibit so little compassion for cleaning up our messes. Yes, the journalist makes an interesting story out of the plebian strife but does he actually examine the soulful roots of respect for each other and how parents seek easy answers rather than accept responsibility for the education of themselves and their charges? If we paid janitors more than teachers would more respect occur? If teachers were paid on a non-union scale based on results and attendance of free choice by those who wished to learn what they are teaching, would teachers earn more that politicos or paladins of business? When will education and the soul's growth be held in higher esteem? This is 'different-thinking' that Michel Foucault might well encourage.

Do doctors who graduated forty years ago keep up their skills, and do herbalists perform a better function in health maintenance? Is there a benefit to making more people able to become doctors in a hierarchy that includes chiropractors and nurse practitioners doing what they can to help us at lower pay? Is the AMA interested in controlling the number of competitors in their 'old boys club'? What amount of education does it take to make a really good lawyer? Is education as important as other skills not being taught? Have you met many ethical lawyers who actually tell you about their failures or foibles? What is the necessary qualification to become a politician and who really knows enough to vote when they won't even address the important issues? There are more efficient and effective ethical systems that have proven themselves over long periods of time. Elder councils who answer to the needs of people who know they too will have the opportunity to perform these roles are worth re-evaluation. Porto Allegro, Brazil involved the people in a true participatory experiment that many thought would fail - it has succeeded. Asoka had real ecumenical and truly spiritual goals we can learn from. Words like ‘democracy' or 'representational government' do not ensure ethical bureaucracies with true compassion of an equal nature.

A sheepskin or a diploma does not accredit a person or ensure they know what they are doing, and why. 'Experts' are often salesmen from a few miles away who have a slide show that highlights only the things we want to hear. The 'chit system' of education might allow students to find educational environments that work FOR them. If it works for each person - then it will benefit society as a whole. The top-down Platonic model that seeks to homogenize us into classes of some nefarious structure (whether communistic, democratic or fascist) is not creative application or maximization of resources.

About Author Robert Bruce Baird :

Excerpted from my Encyclopedia which can be found at

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