Category Archives: Modern Culture

Mike Smyth is at it again!

Before the last election, I had rather naïvely hoped that Mike Smyth, Postmedia’s King of Snide, might become that rarest of commodities in BC politics: a balanced pundit. He criticism of Christy Clark’s BC Liberals were strong, focused and on-point, if not a little obsessed with personality and salacious scandal. Alas, with the ascension to […]

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Choice and flexibility: some thoughts on the new curriculum

The latest drafts of the grades 10-12 English and social studies curricula and the recent announcement of BC’s new graduation requirements confirm what many secondary teachers have feared: the continued (and perhaps accelerated) slide towards a consumer-oriented education system that offers little accountability. Let’s start with the new curricula. [Because I am a secondary humanities teacher, […]

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Finding Alternative Media

What exactly is the “mainstream media” (aka MSM)? According to that paragon of media sensibility, Keith Baldrey, the MSM is the mass information apparatus that upholds standards and supports democracy. It apparently does not include bloggers and “citizen journalists”, who are part of an emerging trend called “alternative media”: Without so/called “mainstream media” Democracy would be […]

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A Review of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road

I have a rather equivocal opinion of  The Road. On one hand, it’s a beautifully phrased novel, full of powerful images and rich language. On the other hand, the plot is rather pedestrian, and the author’s defiance of writing conventions is tiresome. There’s no doubt that McCarthy is a gifted writer. Many passages are profoundly beautiful […]

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Let’s Hope High School Won’t Be Your “Glory Days”

After another day of classes, and another round of adolescent glowering and truculence, I am reminded of Springsteen’s classic, “Glory Days”. Nobody said it so well: let’s hope your years in high school won’t be your glory days. If they are, then the rest of your life will be a big disappointment! One of the most […]

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The Rip Van Winkle Effect: Back in the Classroom after Eight Years

Last September I knew I had to make a change, and so I took the plunge and moved back into the classroom after eight years in distance learning. I decided to leave DL because I really missed the classroom. I wanted to work face-to-face with students again, and embrace the challenges and rewards that come […]

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The Shock Doctrine Documentary

Though it’s been out for a few years, the documentary on Naomi Klein’s The Schock Doctrine remains a powerful and illuminating summary of her ideas. I thought I’d post it again. Klein has faced some criticism by those you might consider to be her natural allies on the progressive left. Perhaps it’s because she is an […]

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Riffing on MacLennan: The Two Solitudes of Education

After participating in today’s Twitter conversation (#bcedplan) with the Minister of Education, I’m more convinced than ever of the two solitudes in modern education. The ascendant group is made up of the so-called progressives. They seem naturally drawn to modern technologies, and, as a result, are over-represented on Twitter. The other group, what we might call […]

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The Rise of the Electives and the Smorgasbord Kids (And Why Trades vs Academics is Obsolete)

One of the most common dichotomies in modern education is “trades vs. academics”. Supporters of one (often the trades) will decry the predominance of the other, and demand equal consideration from educators, government and society as a whole. However, I think the debate is clichéd and misses something important. One of the most noticeable trends I […]

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Cornel West Speaks Truth to Power

Though the current status of “public intellectuals” is somewhat unclear, there is no doubt that Cornel West – a Christian, a socialist and an African-American human rights activist –  is one of the best in America. He is pugnacious, complex and passionate. The following provides a taste of what this articulate academic has to offer.

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