Posts Tagged ‘Canada’

Babies Brought into Schools to Teach Kids About Empathy

May 20, 2012

To be able to teach children about empathy one has to get them to understand that the world doesn’t revolve around them. They need to know that everyone has problems, insecurities and sensitivities. Children that struggle to show empathy can get self obsessed and insular.

That’s why I am surprised that some have confused caring for a totally dependant baby, to the understanding that their fellow classmate has problems too. A young baby is simply not threatening. They are cute, fun to play with and a great distraction for any classroom. I don’t understand how caring for a baby has any bearing on a child’s capacity to feel the pain of a classmate:

Babies are set to be brought into primary schools in Cardiff to help improve pupils’ empathy levels and help reduce any bullying and aggression.

The scheme, pioneered in Canada, encourages children to interact in a nurturing manner after observing a parent and baby in the classroom.

Reports suggest children who have taken part are more likely to help others, share, and accept peers as they are.

The programme is being run by the charity Action for Children (AfC).

Around 2,000 school children will take part in Roots of Empathy, as the scheme is known, which will see a local parent and young baby visit their school nine times over the course of a school year.

Debra Ennis, the charity’s children’s services manager, said the project had been running very successfully in Scotland for two years and a Big Lottery Fund grant had enabled them to bring it to Wales.

“We chose Cardiff as we have a really good relationship with the local authority and already run some programmes here.

“The results in Scotland have been amazing. I was a bit sceptical at first – babies going into classrooms – but the turnaround in behaviour in children’s classrooms and drop in anti-social behaviour has been amazing.

I think this program has some value when it comes to fostering maturity and social skills, but I just don’t understand how you can teach empathy for classmates by bringing in babies to the classroom.


Expert Criticises Lack of Action on Bullying

September 28, 2011

Leading expert on bullying, Professor Debra Pepler of York University condemns Canada for failing to manage its rampant bullying problem.  Professor Pepler’s criticisms are valid not just for Canada, but for all countries.  You would think that since we have a greater understanding of the issue and Governments have pumped mega dollars in fighting the problem  that we would have seen some results.  Unfortunately, this is not the case:

Canada is not doing a good job of addressing bullying so it remains a major problem, says one of the country’s leading experts on the issue.

“Here we are, a country that has an international reputation of being so nice and dealing with issues of diversity, inclusion and equity, and yet at the level of children, we really aren’t doing a good job,” said Professor Debra Pepler of York University, who is also a scientist at the Hospital for Sick Children.

“We are not keeping them safe; we are not providing them with the necessary supports to learn how to live in healthy relationships,” added Pepler, a founder of PREVNet (Promoting Relationships and Eliminating Violence Network), a national network of researchers.

With the recent news of an 11-year-old Pickering boy who killed himself earlier this month — with bullying one of the many factors involved — many now wonder what more can be done.

The parents of Mitchell Wilson say their son, who suffered from muscular dystrophy, began a downward spiral of depression and anxiety following a November 2010 mugging and subsequent bullying by older students at Westcreek Public School.

It’s time schools spent less energy trying to protect themselves from lawsuits and invest more into improving its culture and ramping up the consequences for bullying infringements.   Inept policies and programs may be enough to avoid legal suits but it has never come close to dealing with the problem.

Success in curbing bullying is every bit as important as academic achievement.  Ultimately, both go hand in hand.  You are unlikely to get a child to perform at their potential when they are being victimised and tormented.


Is it Really a Crisis when so Few Teachers are Male?

December 8, 2010

Two recent articles written in the last month discuss the scarcity of male teachers at Elementary school level.  On the 15th of November an article appearing in the Vancouver Sun, called the shortfall a “crisis.”

Where are the models for young boys? A new Canadian study reveals that only one out of 20 elementary school teachers are male — and the main reason men avoid these young grades is they don’t want to be accused of being pedophiles.

Just today, The Global Times, discussed the same issue – this time in Beijing.

Elementary schools in Beijing are hoping to recruit more male teachers, as there are not many men teaching these grades, and some primary schools do not have any male teachers on their staff …

Same problem as Canada, but a different reason is given:

One survey shows that university graduates who are qualified teachers are more interested in working in secondary schools, which is one reason for the imbalance. Another reason is that male teachers apparently often change jobs.

As a male 4th Grade teacher, I know from experience how outnumbered we are in Australia as well.  I was one of very few males at University and our school currently has only one other male teacher (a part-time sport teacher).  In fact, since it’s just the two of us, there is no male staff toilets at our school.  Instead, we have to use the disabled toilets!  To make matters worse, our Principal invites the school accountant and bus driver to take part in the staff photo to make it look like there is more male staff members.

I never wanted to teach secondary school because I wanted to spend a large block of time with the one group instead of having multiple classes.  I feel it’s more effective in helping make a difference.  Similarly, I enjoy being able to teach a host of different subjects, rather than just one or two subject areas.

Whilst I wish I could say I’m not concerned about being accused of  … (I can’t even finish the sentence it’s so repulsive), I’d be lying to you if I said I wasn’t.  Our school features tactile female teachers who regularly hug, kiss and have students on their laps.  As kids don’t see any difference with me, they naturally, at first, try to hug me too.  But I don’t let them of course.  I explain that I don’t do hugs.  They don’t understand.  I don’t really know how to explain.

I’ve never wanted to be seen a male teacher.  Just a teacher that happens to be male.  I’ve always thought that boys don’t need ‘male’ teachers, they need ‘good’ teachers.  But just recently, I’ve noticed how much easier I cope with the troubled male students than most of the female teachers.  Maybe it’s true.  Maybe we really do desperately need more male teachers.

But is it a crisis?  Perhaps it’s for the best that there are so few male teachers.  The men I speak to about my profession show absolutely no interest in teaching.  In fact, they would probably rather undergo root canal than teach a class.  If males tend not to show an interest in teaching, could it not be a good thing that they have chosen a different path in life?

What do you think?  If you are a male elementary teacher, why did you choose to be one?

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