Politics Run Amok

Politics Run Amok

Gotcha! I bet you thought I was going to blog about Rob Ford smoking crack. Nope, even though it would be fun. Nor am I going to blog about our dishonest senators and the chief puppeteer, Stephen Harper. If I did though, I could make many pithy, cutting statements. After all we know who these people are and the damage they are doing to the country. Instead I am going to go after something far worse and more insidious.

The school principal has a lot of power in their little fiefdom. They are in charge of the students, staff and faculty of their institutions. They are the arbiters of decency and morality in their schools. Most principals, I suspect, are benevolent dictators with a modicum of critical thinking skills. They understand that children develop at different rates and know that a one-size-fits-all approach is not effective. Principals who are secure in their ability to lead can give students and teachers the space needed to learn and grow; they understand that children need to learn to problem-solve for themselves without adult intervention. They further understand that unstructured play is one of the ways that children learn. Real world consequences on the playground[1] like hurting someone’s feelings because you played too hard or not being allowed to play if your peers think you are cheating are all important life lessons that teach children self-control and self-governance. Not allowing children to play in this manner is doing them a grave disservice; it means that children will be looking outside of themselves for the answer instead of figuring it out for themselves. Translate this to a young adult and you have a person with a serious deficit moving into the adult world of work.

I introduce to you, principal of Coghlan Fundamental Elementary School, Barbara Dayco, in Aldergrove, BC. Citing “a little bit of rambunctious play that resulted in a few incidents where there were some children getting hurt,” the school has banned play that involves children touching each other.[2] Stephen Quinn,[3] from On The Coast, interviewed Dayco yesterday afternoon. Dayco presented as someone who had little or no ability to think critically. When asked about the ban she said that they didn’t feel the children had the skills to play successfully and safely so they banned games like tag and imaginary fighting games until, such time, as they decided the children had ‘learned’ how to play. Now, correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t play something we all intrinsically know how to do? I can remember being a child of 5 or 6 outside with the neighbourhood kids and we would set up a game of whatever, agree on rules, negotiate, give and take and then play. It didn’t matter what game we dreamed up we played together hard. Sometimes feelings got hurt and of course there was the odd injury that rarely required more than a band-aid and a hug from a parent or nothing at all. According to Dayco, the plan at the school is to teach children how to play. Currently during their structured physical education time, teachers are instructing the students on how to play tag. Since when does playing tag require instruction? It is a pretty simple game that most kids learn with their siblings and family. Pedagogically speaking are there elements and complexities of tag that I am missing? Sure some games may require some instruction and adult supervision like musical chairs as it requires things adults control like furniture and music.  Dayco has said they will allow ‘touch’ games to happen once they feel the children have learned enough skills to do it safely and successfully. She was unable to say what this would look like.

I feel bad for children stuck in Dayco’s school. During the interview with Quinn she kept repeating herself like she was reading from a script that had been pre-approved by a lawyer. During the interview, Quinn was attempting to get her to discuss the nuances of the ban and play in general and Dayco didn’t have a clue; like an automaton she just carried on with the party line.

As our world grows ever more complex we need people who have critical thinking skills in position of leadership. We also need children who grow up learning lessons on their own from their interactions with their peers. If children can’t solve their own, age-appropriate issues, how on earth are they going to cope in this world?


[1] Note, I am not talking about bullying.

[2] The school had also initially banned passive acts like holding hands and hugging but has since said that is ok.

[3] Click here to hear the interview.

The strangest person I have ever known

This came up as one of the topics suggested by WordPress so I thought I would grab it. Some days it is hard to come up with blog worthy topics! I do have to say though that having C in my life for many years enhanced it.

I first met C when I was 12. We met at Louis Riel Junior High School in Calgary. Neither of us really fit in so we hung out together. We were completely opposite. We lived on the same street and it was always quicker to go there and out their back door as it cut off about 2 blocks on the way to school. One of the first things I noticed was that their house looked like it was from one of the hoarding shows. There were dirty dishes in the kitchen and stuff everywhere. We both lived a similar life with abusive stepfathers. Although, I am sure hers was worse than mine. Regardless, we both led lives of quiet desperation due to all the abuse in our families.

Together C and I were EVIL. She was extremely creative at doing things her parents did not want her to do. She hid cigarettes in a hollowed out book, which was brilliant. We would eat lunch at her house because we were locked out of our house until my parents came home. My mother figured it out quickly that C and I were bad together. She would forbid me to see her but I would ignore her. When I started to run away from home later in the school year, I would spend the night at C’s house in the basement. I am pretty sure that at some point my parents threatened to sue her parents if they let me go there anymore.

Almost as soon as we were adults we began to live together. There was always some tension and competition between us. For some reason, men were drawn to C in such a way that I could never really understand. I had not quite come out yet so it really did not matter to me that she got all the attention. She also milked the attention for all she could get. Men would pay her rent, by her groceries and look after her in general. I definitely benefited from this situation.

Now onto the weirdness – C was weird. She kept all sorts of strange animals like lizards and snakes. She read fantasy and science fiction and she always had a book with her. She was also into the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA). She would go to these events in a completely different persona. She wore elaborate costumes. I went a few times but it really did not do much for me.

As the years went by things got weirder with C. She got married and they had a child. C never wanted to be a mother and she had serious difficulties. Their house was out of control long before the baby came and it got much, much worse. C resented being stuck at home with a baby so as soon as she could she would go away for weekends and leave the boy with his father.

I cannot stress how bad the house was. She always blamed it on her husband. There was stuff everywhere and always something rotting. If you sat at the table there was nowhere to put down a glass. Their fridge was a science experiment and I would not eat anything there I did not bring in.

Then things got even weirder. She started to get into S & M. They opened up their marriage however it really meant that C was free to do whatever she wanted with whomever she wanted and he stayed home with the child.

I have not seen her years. I think ultimately our values were just too different to sustain a relationship past our thirties. I completely lost respect for her and I felt bad for her husband. When I was younger she certainly played a large role in my life. We were EVIL together as I mentioned before. I would think of things to do and she would implement. Just what every teenager needs!

25 Random Things About Me!

A new facebook meme has been floating around: 25 random things about me. I thought I would post it here instead.

1. First up – I am adopted. I was about 6 weeks old at the time.
2. I was born in Calgary. Many people living in Calgary are not from there.
3. I did the Katimavik program when I was 18. I went to Newfoundland to build a log cabin. We lived in tents for 3 months. I spent 3 month in Toronto and Baie St. Paul Quebec. It was the best thing I ever did. It taught me to finish something.
4. I played the accordion until I was 12. I hated it. It was uncool and heavy. My brother had to play it too. We all played it because my mother did. By the time my sister was ready for music lessons she got to play the organ because my mother had changed to that instrument.
5. I had a bit of a wild childhood. I won’t go into details but suffice it to say I did a lot of bad things, ran away from home and spent time in group homes. I will also say that my behaviour was caused by things that happened earlier in my childhood.
6. As a result of my childhood I spent my university undergrad in therapy.
7. I completed an honours BA in history from the University of Calgary in 1994.
8. I then went to Queen’s for my MA still in history. Which I finished in the fall of 1995.
9. My biggest academic achievement, in addition to my Queen’s scholarship, was being selected as 1 of 2 students to attend a conference put on by the Centre for the Study of the Presidency. The students selected were the ones who got the highest grades in an American political science course. Ironically it was 2 history students who earned this honour much to the chagrin of the political science students.
10. I knew I was a lesbian from a young child. I was sure I would not get married to a man. I hoped that I could be with a woman.
11. I am a television addict. I especially love reality shows like Survivor and the Amazing Race.
12. We moved to BC in 1999 – December to be exact. Only a couple of days before Y2K.
13. It was so creepy when we moved here. We started off in Burnaby. It was foggy for 3 weeks solid. We were pretty sure we had moved to a very strange place. The last decade here has pretty much borne this out.
14. I have been with my partner Deb for 12 years. We have been married for 7. We got married right after the court decision that made it legal but before the legislation hit. We hoped to increase the numbers of couples who had married in that time so that the government would have a harder time reversing them. Thankfully this never happened and we have remained happily and legally married for the whole time.
15. I have lived with dogs almost my whole life. I cannot imagine my life without a dog or several dogs.  I relate best to little dogs. If I can’t have a dog I don’t want to live.
16. I love computers.
17. My first computer was a Mac Plus. I then switched to PCs for almost 20 years.
18. Approximately a year ago, I switched back to Macs. I couldn’t be happier!
19. I have an interesting almost intuitive relationship with computers.
20. I end up being tech support every where I go. Sometimes I just walk into the room to fix a computer and it suddenly resolves. I cannot explain this but it has happened more times than I can count.
21. I love computer games. I have been known to spend days playing Civilization, Colonization and SimCity.
22. I love music. Listening to music has kept me sane since I was about 8 and I got my first record player with a radio.
23. As a teenager my favourite bands were Fleetwood Mac (Rumours) and Supertramp (Crime of the Century).
24. As an adult, I have continued my relationship with music. I have very diverse tastes that include Richard Shindell, Tori Amos, REM, Sinead O’Connor along with many other artists. Most recent addition: Lady Gaga!
25. I have been blogging since August 8, 2007. I have been trying to blog for every day of 2010. I have forgotten two days I think. Not bad!


Me at about 2

I had a very short childhood. By the time I was 7 I was a child with adult responsibilities. I was cooking dinner, helping to keep the house clean and looking after my little sister. I think I was about 2 or 3 in this picture and it pretty much sums up who I am.

I definitely liked being a girl! I am actually quite feminine. I have actually been exploring my feminine side in the last several years. When I began to embrace my lesbianism I threw my femininity out the door. I never wore make-up outside of my teen years and I still don’t. However, I have been wearing more dresses and using nail polish. I am wearing more jewelry like my new white gold bangles which completely adore!

The biggest thing this picture shows is my great reluctance to get my hands dirty! I find it fascinating that personality preferences like this are set in early childhood. It certainly begs the question about how much of our behaviour is nature vs nurture. There is no way my parents could have trained me to be this way so quickly. Certainly my younger sister is much different. She used to get filthy as a child. Meanwhile, I would want her to play ‘school’ where I could be her teacher. That never worked out so well for me.

Oh, and for the record, I still do not like to get my hands dirty!