Dazed And Confused Op-Ed

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PRAY! BUT TO WHOM?

Re: ‘Pray for everyone in Florida-Sept. 11

Who would not want to respond to the heartfelt cry from Florida Gov. Rick Scott? It calls to us again in this harrowing description of Irma’s relentless advances, indeed a terrifying and devastating onslaught.

Pray! But to whom?

The U.S. Supreme Court has banned prayer in schools. In Canada, courts found that the use of The Lord’s Prayer in schools infringed on the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Defining the above rulings, as has been done, to mean that teaching religion in school is illegal, teaching about religion in school is legal, has excited argument rather than agreement.

Veteran education journalist Linda K. Wertheimer has written a book, “Faith Ed: Teaching About Religion in an Age of Intolerance.” She explores the diversity of cultures and religions as they meet in the classrooms and community, with many stories of teacher-pupil episodes, as well as parents getting involved.  Pray! But To Whom?  That’s a book I plan to read.

Cora Wright

Cambridge

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Pray Where?

Cora Wright’s Sept. 16 letter confuses and disappoints. “Pray! But To Whom?”  Doesn’t she know?  A clergyman could direct her.

Perhaps she could pray to an English teacher, who would help her differentiate between ‘where’, and ‘to whom.’ She expends much ink and angst, listing public places where the Christian religion may not be monopolistically imposed on the multicultural population.  She fails to mention her chosen place of worship, the privacy of her home, or the sanctity of her own mind.

As for whom she may pray to, in these locations she is free to pray to God, or Yahweh or Allah or Zeus or Odin, or The Flying Spaghetti Monster. It doesn’t really matter.  The observed results are all indistinguishable from random chance.

Yours truly

Grumpy Old (logical, freethinker) Archon

***

Aside from my negating arguments above, here in Ontario, in schools run by the Catholic School Board, teaching religion is still legal, although this unique privilege is being considered for cancellation. Catholic schools accept non-Catholic students (to increase their declining enrollment-generated Government grants), but they, and even Catholic students, are allowed to opt out of religious studies.

In both the American, and Canadian rulings, what has been banned is the exclusive use of Christian prayers, to the omission of all other religions.

While her letter seems to show her as open-minded, she puts a lot of energy into the Christian faith.  She may be surprised and disappointed when she finds that Wertheimer’s book doesn’t treat Christianity as an only child.

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Someone else had a Word to say.

Pray? What For?

Re: Trump’s National Day of Prayer

If we are to believe our religious friends, everything that happens is the handiwork of their all-powerful God. If this were true, it would be logical to assume that Hurricanes Harvey and Irma were the creations of their omnipotent and loving God.

With this in mind, I find it difficult to understand the declaration by Donald Trump of a National Day of Prayer, following Hurricane Harvey. It is a mystery to me what the prayers are meant to accomplish.  The devastation and destruction having already occurred to lives and property, it seems illogical to appeal through prayer to the very entity that created these hurricanes, guided their paths, and allowed said devastation and destruction to happen.

It is noteworthy that Trump did not declare a second National Day of Prayer following Hurricane Irma. Perhaps he was not impressed with God’s response to the first one.  😳

 

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The Vax Fax….uh, Facts

Hypo

A local high school teacher recently scared the Hell out of a couple of public nurses and some students. A science teacher, he should have known, and acted, better.  Apparently he’s an anti-vaccination conspiracy theory believer.  He abandoned his class and classroom three times, to go to the gymnasium, where booster shots were being given.

He banged on the nurses’ work table. He leaned in on his knuckles, nose to nose with them, and demanded that they provide proof that vaccinations were safe.  He paced around, yelling that the students had the right to know that the vaccinations could kill them.  The students were frightened, not of the shots, but of his behavior.

His school board censured him, the police were called, and charged him, and he got his 15 minutes of infamy in the media. A few days later, this letter appeared.  My response follows it.

VACCINATION DEBATE

Re: Anti-vaccination teacher guilty

I find it rather ironic that this week, an Ontario teacher was found guilty of misconduct for pushing his views on vaccination, and my nephew died after 32 years, as a result of uncontrollable seizures, after being vaccinated as a child.

This teacher was trying to assure that his students were aware of all the side effects, including possible death, as the result of vaccines.

Too much of this information is buried from the public eye. I’m not against vaccines, I’m just an apprehensive observer who doesn’t have enough information to make a proper decision on my own.

Jim Kuntz

VACCINATION PARANOIA

I was disappointed to see Jim Kuntz’s letter of support (Vaccination debate, Mon. Feb. 27) for the anti-vax teacher.

He was chastised not for his views, but for his actions. There is a proper time, place, and method of protest. Interrupting medical procedures, and frightening nurses and students was very inappropriate.

Kuntz was disingenuous to mention his nephew’s death after long-term seizures, and the fact that he had been vaccinated, with no proof that one caused the other. Epilepsy usually first presents just as children receive their first shots.

He complained that much of needed information is not available to the public. If either of these gentlemen need info, they need only contact their personal doctor, the local Medical Association, the Provincial Medical Association, the Canadian Medical Association, The World Health Organization, or the C.D.C. (Centers for Disease Control).

They are all available online, and unanimous in their stance that the benefits of vaccination far outweigh the slim possibility of a bad reaction. Or they could just Google ‘Disproven Vaccination Theories.’

The Archon

The anti-vaxer conspiracy theorists would rather believe stripper/porn star Jenny McCarthy, and some guy who ‘bought’ fame by faking results, than thousands of doctors with millions of hours of training and experience. What do you believe on this subject? Anybody want to weigh in – pro, or con?   😕

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CENSORSHIP BUREAU

When my letter above was printed, the newspaper removed the word ‘disingenuous’ (too big for local Mennonites?), along with any hint that Kuntz had intentionally misled readers.

The final paragraph, with its support of the opinions of trained physicians, and the idea of using Google to dispel at least one conspiracy theory, simply disappeared. You don’t think someone at the paper is an anti-vaxer, do you??! 😉

 

Op-Ed Joust

Op-Ed

During the recent Canadian Federal Election campaign, which threatened to become as long and strange as the American one, a failed municipal politician with very Liberal leanings had the following rant/letter about the Conservative Prime Minister published in the local paper.

A QUESTIONABLE TACTIC

I’m no fan of Stephen Harper. No surprise there.  But not withstanding my political leanings, I am deep disturbed that he is, by accounts, a five-question leader.

On a daily basis he has been limiting questions from the national media to four, and one from local media, with no follow-ups. I am unaware of any such limits by the other party leaders.

We are in the middle of a profoundly critical debate about Canada’s future, so we need to hear clear answers to the most difficult questions that face our country. But the person who wants us to continue to support him for four years is limiting reporters to a mere five questions a day.

My conclusions may be ungenerous, but I would call this hiding. Personally, I don’t think any of our leaders should be hiding behind arbitrary rules that limit our ability to ask tough questions of them every day of the campaign, and have them answer them thoroughly and comprehensively, so as to be transparent and accountable.

Perhaps, just perhaps, this limit of five is the most telling indicator of how accountable Harper really is and is prepared to be. Maybe not.

John Ryrie

Fortunately, a fresh shipment of snark had just arrived here at Grumps R Us, and I was able to provide him with the following.

 

ON THE JOB

In his, A Questionable Tactic letter of Oct. 14, John Ryrie may have missed a point because, like me, he’s an old fogy.

Today’s banal public media circus is all too full of inconsequential 140 character Kardashian Tweets and Instagram photos of someone’s lunch of baked beans.

By limiting the media to five questions, Harper is forcing them to focus and do their job.  They have to plan ahead and ask incisive questions, more relevant than, “What color socks are you wearing?” or, “Are you betting on the Blue Jays?”

Five serious questions per day should be enough.  This allows him to get on with the important job of governing the country, rather than stopping to feed the Info-tainment industry.

 

Grumpy Old Archon (as usual)

 

Things get strange during an election campaign, as the Americans continue to learn.  Media reporters, and Liberal opponents, feel they can just stop the Prime Minister and pump him for information so they can direct their counterattack.  He’s got two jobs.  One is to run a campaign.  The other is to run the country – until he was defeated (Sadly, in my opinion.)

Perhaps the other party leaders have the free time to kibitz with reporters.  That’s what the P.M.’s Media Office, and press releases are for.  I can hardly imagine, “President Obama, will we be bombing Palmyra?” or, “Pope Francis, are you going to sanctify gay marriage?”

Have you Americans got some odd election occurrences you’d like to make us Canucks aware of?

 

Can You Read This?

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Can you read this? Thank a teacher!

Over the past year, I have witnessed a miracle. My six-year-old son has learned to read.  He has gone from haltingly making his way through the lowest leveled readers, to having hundreds of sight words and reading with excitement and passion.  He loves to read.

His life has changed for the better – not just this year, but forever.

Kids don’t just learn to read on their own. They must be taught by specially trained teachers committed to ongoing professional learning.

My son has a teacher like that, but you won’t read a story about her in the newspaper. That’s because, while she is excellent, she is not unique.

Dozens of children at my son’s school learned to read this year. Hundreds of teachers taught thousands of kids across the Region to read this year.  Everyone reading this letter learned to read from a teacher. But we take them for granted.

Teachers doing their job well, year after year, are the norm. They’re not “news.”  The teacher who taught my son to read, and the thousands of other teachers like her in this Region, will continue to do amazing work that goes unnoticed and underappreciated.  That’s a tragedy!

Peter Stuart

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There are many ways to learn reading

As with the similar bumper stickers, when I read that headline, I laughed.

I’m glad that letter writer Peter Stuart found a dedicated teacher who taught his son to read. There are many more like her out there.  I had a couple who taught and inspired me.

I have to take extreme exception, though, with his blanket claim that kids don’t just learn to read, and need to be taught by specially trained teachers.

For centuries, people learned to read from others who were not even teachers. Later they learned from teachers who were barely trained, much less specially.

Back before the distraction of television, my mother read to me constantly, any decent book which came to hand, including Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings’ The Yearling, and T. S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, which went on to become the hit musical, Cats.

She did not teach me to read.  She did not point, and say, “This is A.  This is B.  This word is Cat.  This word is Dog.”  She just read to me.

One month before my fifth birthday, when she was sick in bed, I picked up a copy of Maclean’s magazine and read to her. I just learned to read!  I’ve never met another who made the same claim, but a few must exist.

Grumpy, Braggart, Old Archon

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Commitment Needed

I agree with letter writer, Archon, that some of us either seem to pick up reading on our own, or are taught quite well by “unqualified” teachers.

I taught myself to read around the age of four, mainly by being exposed to books, and the magnetic letters on the fridge.

My mother wasn’t surprised: she also read before starting school, and so did her mother.

As a home educator for almost two decades, I have seen many parents teach reading (and math, and much more) to their own children. Some children learned easily; some had challenges; some learned at three or four; some at the “normal” age; some not till much later.

Some used phonics and basal readers; some used computer software, and some used more informal methods.

Some families required extra help to deal with specific learning issues, but most of them managed extremely well.

Teaching reading does take commitment, patience and imagination! But it doesn’t require a teaching degree.

Anne White

***

As you can see, I’ve been at it again. I respect and admire teachers, but, like anything else, I’m not impressed with the, “Let someone else take care of it.” mindset which is all too prevalent.  Know how to take care of yourself, and your children.

Anybody else want to brag? How young did you learn to read?  Who “taught” you, using what?