Change in Canada

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5 thoughts on “Change in Canada”

  1. I would tell her 3 things based in research for ALL learning, not just languages:

    a) people with intrinsic interest in learning something do better in it, and retain more, than those who have extrinsic (reward-based) interest, or those who are forced to take things. If you want someone to hate a subject, force them to take it.

    b) in ANY subject, people who do not understand what they are being told/exposed to, and/or what they have to do, do poorly and don’t enjoy the subject. A bad math teacher is as bad as a French immersion teacher who won’t slow down/simplify for the kids.

    c) in ANY situation– not just school– people who are confused, stressed or frightened do not learn. It’s that simple. Stress responses, cortisol, etc…when this stuff kicks in, the higher mental functions shut down. Your kid is going to not only hate her stressful/confusing French class, she is also going to have to “recover” from it every time she has to do stupid homework, or leave the FI room miserable because she didn’t understand it.

    French Immersion in Canada is a great idea, and works well generally. However, it doesn’t work for all kids– I got booted from an FI school in grade 3, despite basically knowing French– and it frequently has a fairly elitist component to it. Many parents view it– frankly– as a way to put their kid in with “good” (read: wealthier, non-immigrant, academic) kids. FI kids are generally, but not exclusively, wealthier and whiter (and, more recently, more Asian) than their non-FI peers. There is also (among some teachers) a strong elitist component: a kid must be “smart” and “hard-working” enough to “qualify” for FI, which “not everyone” can do. One problem that can come up with FI is that people put kids with “issues” into FI because they think the good behaviour habits of those egg-head immersion kids will rub off. This does happen, but can also backfire hugely.

    Teachers in B.C. have a code of ethics, one part of which states that “the teacher is willing to review performance with parents.” “Mollie” needs to go and see the teacher, explain the problem, and ask how they are going to address this, ideally by slowing things down. Ideally, she would talk to her daughter’s peers, and see if they too are having this problem. If it’s just the kid, possibly FI is not the place for her. If it’s the whole class, there are issues. If no results are forthcoming– i.e. if the teacher doesn’t slow down, etc– then the Principal needs to be contacted.

    I would get “Mollie” to bring some Krashen: for people to learn a language, “All you have to do is give people messages they understand that they’ll pay attention to. And they’ll pay attention to them if they’re interesting.” — S.D. Krashen, address to NTPRS.

  2. We should consider adding the first part of this (the first three points) to the Primer as a separate tab. Or we could make the whole thing a tab that describes the immersion approach. And the Latinists have a version of the Primer in the works. I do want to add other tabs to it, as long as it is clear that Robert’s eleven points are the one to show principals..

    1. Hi Chris,

      Point 3 on stress and learning was something covered by Dr. Judy Willis – she has a number of books and does conferences for educators. If you need documentation on that point, she might be an easy source to find.

  3. What Alfie Kohn has to say in “The Homework Myth”, and really in most of his other works, resonates well with the comment made by this mother about how she resents the intrusion upon family time of meaningless “homework”.

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