Hi there tout la gang,

We don't have much to say about research in practice at the Café right now

but we are talking policy and practice over here now: Literacy Enquirers.

Monday, March 31, 2008

comings and goings

Melody Paruboczy starts today as the new executive director for The Movement for Canadian Literacy. You can read more about Melody at the MCL home page. Welcome Melody. We look forward to working with you.

And I guess this means it is really goodbye -- or, as we all hope, au revoir -- to the amazing Wendy Desbrisay, a fierce and respected advocate for literacy. We thank her for all her good work. Fare well dear colleague. We look forward to seeing what comes next - we know it will be just as awe-inspiring.

You can read a tribute to Wendy here.

Friday, March 28, 2008

labour unrest

One of us is on strike.

The 365 part-time contract academic staff members of the Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty Association (WLUFA) are on strike after negotiations broke down March 19.

The members had voted over 89 per cent in favor of job action prior to the collapse of talks. Their collective agreement expired last August.

At issue are job security and salary. WLUFA members are paid per course taught, and seniority is accorded through a system of points per course.

WLUFA wants pay parity with their neighbors at the University of Guelph, University of Toronto, York University, and the University of Waterloo where higher per-course rates are paid.

WLUFA says that the current method of awarding seniority by points per course taught is a mess and that overhauling the system to recognize the experience and qualifications of staff is imperative for job security.

It’s the first time a Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) contract staff unit has gone on strike alone, and the fourth strike at Canadian universities in this academic year.

WLUFA is getting support from students and from other university faculty. And of course from us.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

hippy hippy shake

Hippocampus: A part of the brain that is important for learning and memory.

Or this:

a free online educational resource from the United States of America

HippoCampus is set up to be homework and study help. They have graphic and audio content suitable for people working with a variety of reading skills covering these topics:

American Government
Calculus (Spanish)
Environmental Science
US History

Instructors can also create their own custom HippoCampus pages. Canadian content anyone?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

peep peep

We are having a snowy day here in the Big Smoke and I think that points east are experiencing similar un-springlike weather events. Don't despair -- the second annual Washington Post Peeps Diorama Contest drew more than 800 sugar-filled entries and you can see 37 of the vernal creations here. If that does not put a spring in your step, I am not sure what will.

In Toronto we are consoling ourselves with the fact that we are a mere 17 centimetres from beating our all-time snowfall record. Bring it on!

Friday, March 21, 2008

under/over the weather

Happy long weekend everybody.

Sorry about the quality of the posts this week but this blogger is a bit under the weather. Well, the weather has been fantastic in these parts but I am feeling a bit sick and writing on the computer is making me dizzy.

See you next week.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

attawapiskat petition - 1000+

Now there are 1024 signatures.

The online petition for the Attawapiskat school is here

Monday, March 17, 2008

the art of measurement

Background: I am working on a project about reporting requirements and accountability frameworks in adult literacy in Canada.

My coworker was just in New York and went to the MoMA. She saw the Marcel Duchamp sculpture called 3 Standard Stoppages. She described it to me and as she did, I started to see why she thought that this sculpture would resonate with me as I am doing this work. One of the things Duchamp did when building the sculpture was dip a metre length of string in ink and let it drop into what ever shape happened. Each shape was different but each one was a metre. If you cannot see that it is a metre, it is not because it is not a metre, it is just that you are not used to seeing metres that way.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhh! Immediately I felt better. Thank you M. Duchamp. Thank you art. Thank you Tannis.

Here is what it says on the MoMA page:

It is "a joke about the meter," Duchamp glibly noted about this piece, but his premise for it reads like a theorem: "If a straight horizontal thread one meter long falls from a height of one meter onto a horizontal plane twisting as it pleases [it] creates a new image of the unit of length." Duchamp dropped three threads one meter long from the height of one meter onto three stretched canvases. The threads were then adhered to the canvases to preserve the random curves they assumed upon landing. The canvases were cut along the threads' profiles, creating a template of their curves creating new units of measure that retain the length of the meter but undermine its rational basis.

As it pleases!


...undermine its rational basis!


Friday, March 14, 2008

what else the kids are doing

Hope you had/will have a nice break in March.
Happy, dreamy weekend.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

march break

It s the wee hours and I just finished part of a project I am working on. Whew!

I was going to write about the student who was hit with 147 academic charges for online study network at Ryerson University but, when I looked up the story, I found this video about winter cycling in the city and decided to watch that instead.

I like to ride year 'round and this video made me feel a little less crazy. And now I have drifted off into a dreamy bicycle ride and do not want to stop long enough to tell you what I think about Ryerson and all that. I'll leave you to make up your own minds.

Ding, ding. Catch you later.

The petition is at 357 signatures (see below).

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

attawapiskat petition - 327

I wanted to move this to the top. There were 327 signatures on Monday.

The online petition for the Attawapiskat school is here

Monday, March 10, 2008

somebody might wave back

Why didn't we talk about International Women's Day at the café? Well, I just feel kinda defeated this year and I did not want to rain on any parades. Perhaps it is the pillory of Hillary. Perhaps, as a child of second wave feminism, I am hurt by the part of the pillory of Hillary that refers to her as a second wave feminist supported by second wave feminists. Perhaps it that people are talking about waves of feminism as if they were movements pitted against each other rather than proof of a vibrant, dynamic movement that is able to respond to growing understandings and changing conditions.

Perhaps it is this report on conditions:
At 47%, women make up almost half the workforce, a 10% increase since 1976 -- but:
> only 22% of senior management positions are held by women, a decrease from 27% in 1996;
> a Canadian woman's annual income in 2006 was 63% of a man's;
> and in 2006, a Canadian woman earned 72 cents to every dollar a man in similar work earns, a decrease of 8 cents since 1999.

all from the ACTEW Canadian Women's Labour Patterns Fact Sheet

Perhaps it is the cynical use of feminism to justify wars and military occupations and all kinds of outrageous behaviour.

Perhaps it is, as a friend reports, the pink t-shirt for a two-year old girl emblazoned with the slogan "Love me, love my body."

I know that there is probably some good change happening somewhere, but as I engage in the popular, social and political culture of my community, I have a horrifying sense of being pulled backward into a pre-second wave time and I just do not want to live there again.

Or perhaps it is just me. Stuck somewhere between the second and third wave, wondering what the fourth wave will bring -- knowing that it may have already started without the 40-somethings like me.


For an interesting conversation across waves, click here. I had a weird reaction to this. Even though I agree with Ms. Harris-Lacewell that not acknowledging the ways that race and gender intersect is "the very worst of second wave feminism," I found myself feeling quite defensive about Ms. Steinem. Which of course is why I will not be invited to the fourth wave. But then again, as feminist riding any wave, why would I wait for an invitation?

Sunday, March 9, 2008

breaking news - ctv tells the story

Graham Richardson did a piece on the 11 o'clock CTV news last night about the school, Charlie Angus' video asking kids to support the Attawapiskat school, and some Toronto school children who were raising money to build schools in Africa but, shocked to find out the conditions in Aboriginal communities in Canada, have turned their attention there.

I tried to find the story on the CTV site because I missed the name of the Toronto School. The site is a bit of a nightmare. Those weird floaty ads keep popping up and jamming up one's ability to access information. But, if you can stand it, I found some stories here.

And the video is here. It wouldn't play for me unless I upgraded my Windows Media Player, which I am not inclined to do right now, but maybe you will have more luck.

Friday, March 7, 2008

a good school that gives them hope

Danny is not the only one supporting the Attawapiskat kids - the kids are supporting the kids:

A Chuck-Charlie exchange ensued:

Have a perfectly praiseworthy weekend. See you Monday.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

breaking news - sign the petition

There is now an online petition for the Attawapiskat school.

a school is like a heart

The first I heard of the situation in Attawapiskat was a forwarded email message from Danny Metatawabin.

Danny is the Education Administrator for the Mundo Peetabeck Education Authority in Fort Albany First Nations, situated along the shores of James Bay. In his email he asks, "How can there be effective teaching happening when certain communities have to teach out of portables? How can we provide for best programs and practices when we are working with an out-dated funding formula?"

Sound familiar?

Danny made this pledge:
"As a sign of protest for my fellow communities and fellow Education partners, and if I should receive 500 emails or more to support my protest for lack of action and commitment on the part of the Federal Government and INAC (Indian and Northern Affairs Canada), I will shut down my School for four days and light a Traditional Sacred Fire for those four days. This is as per our traditional Teachings for Prayers and Cause. I will also hope to acquire Board support and approval from Chief & Council in order to proceed with this process, and if I am to receive 500 emails or more."

You can read Danny's email message and find his address here:
Support from Fort Albany

You can read more about the eight-year campaign for the new school and how to support the Attawapiskat children at the Attawapiskat Blog.

Here is Chuck Strahl's email address: Strahl.C@parl.gc.ca

Monday, March 3, 2008

a place to do literacy

This is International Adult Learners Week and this IALW will highlight the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

"Having a place to do literacy is as important as the literacy itself."

Lyndsay Mollins Koene (yes, we are related).

From the Attawapiskat Fact Sheet:

Where is it? Attawapiskat is an isolated, fly-in community on the coast of James Bay. It is located 455 kilometres north of Timmins, Ontario.

Who are they? The residents of Attawapiskat are known as the “Mushkego” -- the Swampy Cree of western James Bay. There are over 1300 people in the community.

What's the issue? For 8 years, Attawapiskat children have had no school. In 2000, the grade school was closed because children were getting sick from a massive diesel spill under the school. The spill happened in 1979 while the government of Canada was operating the school. Since then, 400 students have had to rely on portables. The community has worked hard to get a new school built. Three federal Indian Affairs Ministers have committed to moving ahead with the project. In December 2007, however, the new Indian Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl arbitrarily cancelled the proposed school. The government claims there is no money for First Nation schools for the next five years. And yet, last year they refused to spend over $109 million that had been allocated for infrastructure projects like schools. This money was sent back to Treasury Board.

Why is this happening? There are two standards for education in Canada. Every non-Native child has guaranteed rights under provincial education standards. The First Nation children of Canada have no such rights. This means that reserve schools are built with inadequate classroom sizes, fewer resources and less special education dollars. A system of educational Apartheid exists in Canada. We must change this appalling double-standard.

(This issue will be a topic of discussion at the Great Moon Gathering next week.)

Happy IALW. Happy UDofHR.

Article 26.

    (1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.

    (2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.

    (3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.

Article 2.

    Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.