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Friday, January 14, 2011

Neither Merit Pay nor Collaboration

I have been following the debate about merit pay and especially the unrealistic expectations of schools in B.C. that have cancelled their awards program.

Merit pay sounds nice but will not work. I was in favour of it as a young teacher but maturity brings realism at least to some teachers. Who would judge who deserves merit pay? If it is a principal, then "suck up" to his or her ideas and get merit pay. There is already too much of that in education. If it is fellow teachers, then suck up to each of them and make deals so you get merit pay this year and they will get your vote next year. Also teachers do acquire a disease from time-to-time called, at least by me, "ivory-tower-syndromitis".

This disease has symptoms such as falling for fads like taking phonics out of schools because some teachers merely copied work pages to teach them instead of actually teaching the tool of phonics. I learned to read before school by my parents helping me sound out words on cereal boxes and used that tool my whole life long. More mature teachers fit some phonics in despite the ban and students were the better for it. May I remind teachers about New Math, Cuisenaire blocks, and open classrooms?

Now the fad, which I thought had died out when I retired over 12 years ago of eliminating awards for top achievers in sports and academics is the latest reincarnation of the disease. Life is full of competition. The best teams win their respective cups. The top students get into medical school and get the plum jobs. The best newspaper reporters get jobs at the National Post! [Sorry still a bit of "sucking up" left in me. (:-)] 

Life is full of competition and when teachers try to live in a fantasy world usually inhabited mainly by movie stars that think they know things, they have contracted the deadly disease at its worst. To my fellow teachers who believe these ludicrous notions I say, "Come on out into the real world, the air is fine!" Delusion, illusion or seclusion do not lead to the world in which we live.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Autism Study Dismissed as Fraud

January 7, 2011 Reference to National Post article 

Within the last few years I have heard people afraid to allow their children to be vaccinated against once common childhood diseases as this 1998 study which claimed that the vaccinations caused autism. 

Now once and hopefully for all, this fear-mongering is over as explained in this article from Agence France-Presse with files from Reuters.

The article explains the so-called study was a fraud. No other studies have been able to replicate its results, the studies were drawn from a much too tiny group without a comparative control sample and based on parental recall which has been proven notoriously unreliable the British Medical Journal charged.

Hundreds of thousands of children in Britain are now unshielded against measles, mumps and rubella. Not just in Britain I may add as I first heard people here in North America being afraid to have their children vaccinated as well.

In 2008, measles was declared present in the wider population in the U.K.

I would ask "Why are we so eager to accept new ideas without checking out the scientific truth of them"?

When that happens hundreds if not thousands of lives could be at stake by following poorly researched "news" items which have NOT been proven.