Dr StrangeJob: Corporal Punishment

We’d all do well to start over again, preferably with kindergarten. – Kurt Vonnegut

Protests in support of teachers at Nova Scotia's Province House (Photo via Twitter)

Protests in support of teachers at Nova Scotia’s Province House (Photo via Twitter)

The education system in Cape Breton needs a lesson plan. The P-12 system is in chaos, NSCC faculty are more than two years without a contract and the CBU Board of Governors has placed its president on administrative leave in connection with a tentative faculty contract. Labor turmoil dominates Cape Breton education. What’s wrong with that picture?

Before becoming Cape Breton’s first satirical blogger/mayoral candidate, I was an educator with 18 years’ post-secondary teaching experience. During my teaching career, I was honored to have worked with many successful students. Unfortunately, many of those students became successful despite the education system rather than because of it. Not only is the current system financially unsustainable, it is often no longer effective.

Various theories explain why the system is broken, but I believe the downward spiral began with the misguided belief that our “public” education system should be governed using a “private” business model, and that students should be viewed as customers. Bureaucrats must stop treating students as consumers and students must stop treating educational institutions like Walmart.

What about teachers? We often miss the impact that teacher and faculty negotiations have on educational support staff usually caught in the middle: teacher aids bearing the brunt of inclusion, student advisers struggling to counsel international students with limited English language skills and all other support workers surviving in the trenches. Why? Because every new teaching contract comes at a cost, often at the expense of the support groups. The money pie is only so big, so if one powerful group (whether management or teachers) gets a bigger slice, then another usually gets a smaller one.

However, the issue is not simply lack of money, it’s about the allocation of existing funds by politicians with priorities out of sync with the needs of those they serve. Politicians and bureaucrats argue that additional funds are not available because of the current state of the provincial economy. Could funds not be available because of current political spending priorities focused on re-election rather than on constituents’ needs? (Think Yarmouth Ferry, Bluenose refit, new schools in the Premier’s and Education Minister’s ridings, frivolous self-promotional kitsch, and MLA scandals). Yes, the pie is only so big, so stop giving it away for political or personal gain.

Call me old-fashioned, but I believe the first step in solving our educational woes involves the reinstatement of corporal punishment. Yes, that’s correct, I am advocating a short-term return to corporal punishment. No, I am not talking about strapping students; I recommend we instruct those involved in the current labor disputes to stop behaving like spoiled school children – otherwise, we are going to give them (figuratively speaking) a collective swift kick in the butt. If they cannot set a proper example for the students they all claim to support, then they are the ones in need of schooling.

Until next time—that’s my two cents’ worth.


Dr. StrangeJob


Dr. StrangeJob is a local satirical blogger, retired educator, social activist, and developer of the world’s first 12+1 step self-help group, Incompetents Anonymous.




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