Re: Answers For All, Oct.17
To the Editor:
I am writing with regard to Mr. Rick Campbell's letter. There are many flaws with his arguments, but I will focus on only one of them. In his letter, he states "we have a system where generically-trained educators are teaching music, art, library and physical education" and that we should bring in "musicians, artists and athletes to teach these subjects." As both a musician and a future public educator, I am not only incensed by this statement, but amazed at the absolute ignorance of it.
To insinuate that since music, physical education and art teachers are simply "generically trained" and, therefore, are not musicians, athletes, or artists, is utterly absurd. In order to be certified, teachers must be experts in their respective disciplines. I for one, have spent 23 years of my life immersing myself in the field of music through practice, solo performance, listening and playing in numerous ensembles. In addition to this, I have an honours degree in music education. I consider myself a "musician" in every sense of the word. However, all of that experience and education is merely a prerequisite for acceptance into a faculty of education.
Music teachers are musicians, just as physical education teachers are athletes, etc. Although teachers at the elementary level are expected to teach a broader array of subjects, I would venture to say they have the knowledge and expertise to teach students at that level. Consequently, I do not think your daughter's inability to "carry a tune" has anything to do with the teachers themselves. Instead, it is more a reflection of a government-formulated curriculum that does not appreciate the benefits of music and the arts and, therefore, does not stress these subjects nearly enough.
As a result, I do not understand how this "logic" of hiring non-professional teachers in these subjects would somehow "result in better education in these areas." First of all, teaching, like many other professions such as medicine or law, is one requiring specialized skills and training. If we follow your reasoning, then we could hire anyone with a bit of a science background to become a doctor or surgeon which would not only result in better health care, but save money at the same time. Does this make sense? Then why allow just anybody to teach? Solely possessing subject knowledge does not translate into an ability to teach. Secondly, why limit the hiring of non-teachers to the arts and physical education? Educators in these subjects follow the exact same "generic training" as educators in other subjects. So why not have a "book-of-the-month club" subscriber teach English or an elderly person teach history? What an excellent and innovative way to improve education.
I recommend that Mr. Campbell research his topic a little more before he starts suggesting he has "answers for all." His letter only proves how out of touch he is with the education system. Such blatant disrespect for teachers and their profession coupled with support for a bureaucratically-run education system can only harm education in Ontario.
Education I, B.Mus ('97)