In the name of honour…not: Teachable takeaway from the Shafia verdict

Turning on the car yesterday morning and the first words I heard from CBC were Shafia. On the television, in the newspaper, on my Internet browser…Shafia, Shafia, Shafia.

And honour killing.

Afghans around the world were interviewed to comment on honour killing.
Random people on the street felt their country’s values vindicated through the guilty verdicts with statements like – Canada is not a place for honour killing.
Facebook statuses were updated in the same vein: my country = no honour killing

This is what I take away as teachable from this case.

Somehow this case became more about honour killing and less about what it actually is – the killing of women. In Canada. We need to question this.

Is it because when we talk about honour killing we think we are talking about something that has been transplanted here by recent immigrants and therefore not Canadian?

Why was it that this particular murder of women got so much press? That this particular murder of women is taken so seriously by Canadians? Is it because of that lens? That honour killing lens that allowed us to look at it from a distance?

Is that why the Canadian public (news media, government…) doesn’t look at murders of women like the 600 and counting missing/murdered aboriginal women across Canada with such sensationalism and ease? Because we can’t reframe those murders as easily?

Reframe it in any way. What it comes down to is that there are people (many people) who still think it is ok to kill women. And yes, in Canada. And the Shafia case is but one example of this.

For that, I am happy about the verdict. But not for the reasons it is being lauded in the media. Not.

On learning

My young son learns by watching, by listening, by mimicking, by testing.

He learns how to eat by watching me eat and then eating.
He learns how to speak by hearing me speak and then speaking.
He learns how to stand by standing. And I’m sure it’s because he sees us moving around that he wants to as well.

Brought down to this simplicity, I am reminded of how important I am as a model in the learning process.

And how important it is to let students do.

“National Canine Latin Barking assessments” – Canadian version

I read Michael Doyle’s posts about the frustrations of the whole standardized hoop-jumping, I mean testing, situation with an odd sense of voyeurism. We just don’t have that kind of thing here…dare I say yet? In Ontario they do, maybe in other places in Canada, too. But Quebec is so involved in being unique that we have our own kettle of fish to conquer here in trying to balance uniform end of cycle examinations with individualized programming…

Though…this year I am working at a school whose school board is located in the US. Our students took Canadian Achievement Tests (CAT-4) this year, which are meant to be benchmark tests for the federal government. The powers that be at our central board decided to do PD around comparing results in different domains and then told teachers to look at the domains that scored higher and ask the teachers who taught those domains to share their secrets to success, so to speak. Suggesting that teachers who scored higher (that is the actual phrase she used) were more successful (better) teachers than those who scored lower.

That immediately raised my hackles. My domain, English Language Arts, scored the lowest. Given the logic of the recommendation given in our PD session, I should go speak with the Math teacher, whose domain scored the highest, for advice on how to raise our students abilities to score higher on timed standardized testing situations? Not to mention that our students took these tests in October at which time I had known them for approximately 4 weeks. And this situation was mirrored at different campuses in our school system.

The ire that shot through my system for just that moment was shocking to me. And I got a fleeting sense of what it would be like to live with this kind of reality on a day-to-day basis.

At the moment the Canadian version of the National Canine Latin Barking Assessments is contained to a few independent schools (at least in Quebec) but I fear it spreading. I really do. I don’t want to teach with an ounce of that bitter feeling I experienced when I heard the phrase, ‘teachers who scored higher on the tests’…