Author: Mike Zlotnik
I don't know about you but I am getting tired of teacher bashing through media propaganda. In March of this year, the Vancouver Sun gave op-ed coverage to propagandist Michael Carbert with his article titled "When teachers lap-dance for students". Building his case against progressive pedagogy on a single lurid example from Manitoba, Carbert wrote, "This is one of the fruits of 'student-centred learning,' a hopelessly flawed philosophy wherein it's important to have fun and be cool and forget about all that intellectual achievement stuff". In other words if, as the Charter says, the learner is at the centre of public education, terrible things will happen, including teachers lap dancing to entertain their students. Like so many writers featured by reactionary media, Carbert presents a caricature of progressive, democratic pedagogy and then draws ridiculous causal connections. It would be like we attributed to all writers the sloppy thinking, careless research and logical errors Carbert makes. While it is pretty silly stuff, it has two damaging messages: you can't trust teachers; when students have an active role in their own learning, they don't learn anything worthwhile.
Closer to home, in mid-May, British Columbia media smeared two teachers and used their example to argue that the British Columbia College of Teachers is failing to protect the public interest. Allegations of child abuse were laid against the teachers but the cases are before the courts.
"Any person charged with an offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to law in a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal". [Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, section 11 (d).]Unfortunately, it appears there are no remedies for those Canadian citizens that are being tried by the media with their names published and their alleged crimes given as evidence of the failure of the BC College of Teachers to do their job. Appropriately, the College of Teachers will wait until after the allegations have been proved or disproved before considering disciplinary action.
An irony here is that professional associations are supposed to foster and demand ethical conduct. It is pretty hard to discern journalistic ethics here. Just yellow journalism.
Welcome to the PENS Blog on public education! Our bloggers include parents, teachers, education researchers, and other strong supporters of public education in BC and in Canada. Taking the lead is Bill Bruneau, Professor Emeritus UBC, ex-Vancouver School Board trustee, ex-President of his faculty association, and ex-president of the Canadian Association of University Teachers.