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Teacher Newsmagazine Volume 20, Number 1, September 2007

Looking back

by Chris Bocking

70 years ago

Few occupations provide advantages equal to those enjoyed by the teaching profession in the matter of vacations. We are lucky, in this connection at all events, and should candidly recognize the fact. All over British Columbia, however, are bright, ambitious young teachers who year after year devote almost the whole of their summer vacation to strenuous studies. The additional pedagogical training thus acquired should make them increasingly valuable to their employers. Unfortunately, every well-informed person could name promising young teachers who are aging at a rate far exceeding 12 months per annum. If it be in the public interest that teachers should continually be returning for refresher courses, due provision should be made for sabbatical years. It is bad policy to kill the goose that lays golden eggs, even if the unfortunate bird be ready to acquiesce in the sacrifice!

– September 1937, The BC Teacher

50 years ago

A great deal has been written on the Bay City experiment regarding the use of lay-teacher aides to assist teachers with larger classes. The final paragraph of the report states: "The staff of the Bay City Public Schools still feels that it would prefer to have smaller classes with regular teachers. It recognizes, however, that the teacher shortage is so severe that this may not always be possible." The evidence to date would warrant the following conclusion: Teachers prefer a normal size class without an aide to a larger class with an aide.

– September/October 1957, The BC Teacher

30 years ago

What we ought to be very concerned about is the domination of television programming by commercial interests. The old saying, "He who pays the piper calls the tune," applies as much to television as it does to any other commercial enterprise. Networks sell air time to advertisers. Obviously, if the Neilson ratings indicate that seven million Canadians are engrossed in the intricate sociological intrigues of Gilligan’s Island, while only a mere two million are witnessing another murder in Hawaii, the company with the product to sell will be pleased to bring us Gilligan and his moronic friends rather than Hawaii Five-O.

– September/October 1977, The BC Teacher

10 years ago

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Russian launch of Sputnik, an event that had profound implications for education. Critics charged that our very freedom depended upon shifting the balance from humanities to the sciences. The pendulum has swung too far. Our democracy depends as much upon our citizens being well versed in the humanities as it does in our capacity to graduate physicists and chemists. Enrolment in Grade 12 humanities courses (history, world civilization, economics, geography, and English literature) are in decline. Tolstoy said, "Science can tell us how to build a house, but not how to live in it." The humanities provide students with opportunities to consider how the lessons of our past help us chart our future.

– September 1997, Teacher

Chris Bocking teaches at Keating Elementary School, Saanich.

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